Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

How To React To A Data Breach

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you respond to a data breach?

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

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

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

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

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

Since it’s 2013 data breach, the library:

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

Do you have a plan to help deter cybercrime?

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

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

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

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

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Business Podcast Heats Up In July

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

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

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

Happy listening!

Episode 38: Self-Reliance: Made In America

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 41: The Hacked & The Hacked Nots

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

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

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Looking to Start a Business? Do It the Right Way

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Starting new Ohio Business - Ohio CPA Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Are You Different From The Competition?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Competitive Advantage - Ohio CPA Firm

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

Superior Service Doesn’t Have To Be Hairy Business

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

My Hair Stylist Is A Trusted Advisor

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

Superior Efficiency

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

The Best Ideas You Weren’t Expecting

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

Sound Advice In Advance

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

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

Preventive Maintenance

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

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

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

By Katie Snyder, CPA (Wooster office)

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

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

5 Financial Secrets Of Successful Business Owners

This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

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Do You Know The Best Way To Buy A Business?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Business Acquistions - Ohio CPA Firm

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

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

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

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

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

When You Don’t Know, Ask An Advisor

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

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

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

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

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

By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

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

Dream Big: Considerations For The Aspiring Business Owner

So You Want To Buy A Business: Now What

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

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How To Become A Millionaire

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Kick Your Lottery Ticket Habit

Your Money Multiplied - Ohio CPA Firm

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

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

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

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

For Fun or For Money?

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

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

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

Your Money Multiplied

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

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

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

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

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

By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)

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

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

How Your Plan Design Can Help Improve Your Retirement Plan Participation

Retirement Plan Participants Are Content To Watch Their Savings Simmer

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Phishing Scam Is A Threat To Ohio Businesses

Monday, March 28th, 2016
IRS Phishing Scam - Ohio CPA Firm

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

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

Read Also: Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

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

How Can You Protect Yourself From Tax Fraud

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

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

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

Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

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

Quiz Results Are In – And The News Is Good

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Five Reasons To Fall In Love With Your Financial Advisor

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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

You share the same financial goals.

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

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

They are not afraid to ask for help.

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

They have your back.

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

They always have good advice.

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

Help is always right around the corner.

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

By Denell Skelton, CPA (Coshocton office)

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

Stuck on $5 million

Outsourcing: Quite Possibly Your Most Powerful Resource

The Revenue Sin

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Ohio’s Identity Theft Quiz Returns – With Modifications

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

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

Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

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

Let’s Talk About The F-Word

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Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Friday, January 29th, 2016

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

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

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

The Unknown Number

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

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

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

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

Calling In Reinforcements

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

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

Taxpayers Are Encouraged To Fight Back Against Fraud

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

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

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

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

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

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

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

How can you protect yourself from tax fraud

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

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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Business Leaders Were Reading What?!

Monday, December 28th, 2015

2015′s Most Popular Blog Posts

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

Top 5 Dear Drebit Posts In 2015

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

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

5 Most Popular Posts On Brushing Up Blog

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

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

Cultivating Your Business Readers Choose Top 5 2015 Posts

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

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

Top 10 Articles In Rea’s Library In 2015

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

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

Monday, December 21st, 2015

PATH Act Makes Several Key Tax Provisions Permanent

PATH Act Makes Several Key Tax Provisions Permanent | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Congress finally made good on its promise to make take a more definitive stance on the future of many popular tax provisions last week when members voted in favor of making many of them permanent. Other tax provisions received a temporary extension. Read on to learn more.

There is nothing like waiting until the last minute to complete a task. We’ve all been there and we all promise we’ll never do it again. Unfortunately (especially when it comes to determining the future of several valuable tax provisions) our government has fallen victim to the same bad habit.

Year after year, Congress promises to address the future of many expired tax provisions, and year after year they fail to make a definitive decision – opting only to pass legislation that extends the provisions for another year. In the meantime, taxpayers are expected to take on the impossible task of navigating the terrain amidst legislative uncertainty. Happily, things are about to change.

Listen To Our Podcast Taxes Are Like Fishing To Learn More About Tax Strategy

Congress finally made good on its promise to make take a more definitive stance on the future of many popular tax provisions last week when members voted in favor of making many of them permanent. Other tax provisions received a temporary extension. The legislation, Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, and provides taxpayers a level of certainty that they have been without for quite some time.

This legislation offers a lot of relief to individuals and businesses, alike. Here’s an overview of what you can expect moving forward.

Key Tax Provisions Made Permanent By The PATH Act:

  • 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements
  • Extension and modification of the research & development credit, including allowing certain small businesses to claim the credit against AMT liability and employer’s payroll (ie: FICA) liability
  • 179 expensing limitations and phase out increased to $500,000 and $2 million respectively
  • Exclusion of 100 percent of gain on certain small business stock
  • Extension of tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes
  • Earned income tax credit
  • Child tax credit

Key Provisions Extended Through 2019

  • Extension of the new markets tax credit in which Congress authorized $3.5 billion allocation of credits each year from 2015 until 2019
  • Extension and expansion of the work opportunity tax credit
  • Bonus depreciation is extended at 50 percent for 2015 through 2017, 40 percent for 2018, and 30 percent for 2019

Key Provisions Extended Through 2016

  • Extension and expansion of empowerment zone tax incentives
  • Two-year moratorium on the 2.3 percent medical excise tax imposed on the sale of medical devices
  • Extension of energy efficient commercial buildings deduction

In addition to the extension of key tax provisions, the PATH act also puts more scrutiny on the operations of the IRS. IRS agents will be held accountable for knowing and acting in accordance with the taxpayer bill of rights and prohibits the use of IRS business for political gain.

The passage of the PATH act is a huge victory for American taxpayers, and will allow them to partner more efficiently and effectively with their tax advisors on key issues in years to come without the uncertainty that has plagued them for many years.

Be sure to set up an appointment to speak with your tax advisor or financial planner to talk about how the PATH act will impact your ability to take advantage of tax planning strategies. Do you have questions about specific aspects of the PATH act? Fill out the form on the top, right side of this page to submit your question to Dear Drebit.

By Ashley Matthews (Dublin office)

Are you looking for more ways to save on your tax bill? These articles can help:

Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners

Dos & Don’ts of Gifting Donations

Should I Make A Big Purchase To Cut Taxes?

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When the ACA Tops The Charts, Joe Popp Provides The Play-By-Play

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

What do you know about the new Affordable Care Act’s filing requirements?

Well, if you are a large employer (an employer with 50 or more full-time employees or full time equivalent (FTE) employees), for example, you should be in the process of preparing your 1095-C forms to distribute to employees before the Jan. 31, 2016 deadline. But that’s not all …

I recently spoke with Gary Hunt, senior content editor for the Ohio Society of CPAs, about the “ACA’s latest hits” for an episode of OSCPA Spotlight video series. During this interview, I went into some more detail about the forms large employers are required to file per the ACA, specifically Form 1095-C.

So, if you want to know a little more, including who’s responsible for completing the forms and when they’re due, among other things, click on the video below or check it out on the OSCPA website.

You can also learn more about the services our team at Rea & Associates is offering large employers who are scrambling to meet the deadline – I mentioned this at the end of the segment – when you visit

Don’t say we didn’t warn ya! Here are some more resources that shine light on the upcoming ACA filing requirements:

Secure Form 1095-C Help Now And Avoid Penalties

Make BIG Changes Or Face BIG Fines

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

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

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015
Data Breach - Ohio CPA Firm

The Target breach symbolizes the moment when the threat of personal data security violations became mainstream in America; and today, we don’t think about fraud in terms of if it will happen – it’s when it will happen.

It’s hard to remember a time when reports of data breaches, ransomware attacks and business email compromises (BEC) weren’t part of our daily lives. In fact, not so long ago we were pretty content to believe that the controls companies had in place were enough to protect us from the invisible threat of hackers and cyber criminals. But that was just a dream – and it wasn’t long before that dream manifested into a nightmarish scenario for one of the nation’s largest retailers.

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

Two years ago, cyber criminals gained access to the point-of-sale systems belonging to Target. Authorities later learned that the hacker(s) gained access to about 11 GB worth of data (including highly-sensitive personal and credit card information). When the dust settled, about 70 million consumers nationwide were left vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud. This magnitude of this breach was huge and, as a result, companies everywhere made an effort to buckle down and implement a slew of “best practices.” But what has really changed since December 2013?

What Have We Learned From Target?

The Target breach symbolizes the moment when the threat of personal data security violations became mainstream in America; and today, we don’t think about fraud in terms of if it will happen – it’s when it will happen. But instead of becoming more vigilant about data security practices, it appears as though consumers have chosen a more desensitized reaction. These days we are content with trusting the credit card companies to notify us of any suspicious activity occurring on our account rather than implementing safer payment practices in our daily lives.

Retailers and credit card companies, on the other hand, have worked hard to make it more difficult for hackers to access their customer data. Since the breach, Target has:

  • Installed EMV compliant point-of-sale (POS) terminals in all stores to allow for transactions to be processed using a token instead of actual credit card numbers.
  • Joined two cybersecurity threat-sharing organizations in order to share and retrieve valuable information concerning data breaches and the source of those breaches.
  • Implemented more stringent firewall rules and governance procedures.
  • Constantly monitors and logs system activity.
  • Applied whitelisting technology, an administrative process that allows only preapproved applications to execute in a system, on the store’s POS systems.
  • Disabled or placed limited access on vendor accounts.
  • Deployed 2-factor authentication.
  • Established password vaults and required the use of more complex passwords.
  • Thoroughly reviewed and revised its process on how to determine which employees and contractors would have access to consumer data.

With the exception of the first two points, the measures Target has taken since its 2013 data breach are considered best practices, which means that if your business doesn’t have these security measures in place, you shouldn’t wait any longer. And, with regard to EMV technology, most businesses were expected to install and activate the new technology before Oct. 1, 2015 to avoid liability for losses resulting from fraudulent transactions.

A Moving Target

As long as there are fraudsters willing to pay for stolen names, addresses, credit card numbers and expiration dates, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, etc., there will be cyber criminals looking for a way to hack into your company’s system to gain access to your consumer data or intellectual property. But if you are really serious about keeping your data safe, there are additional measures you can take.

1. Reinforce Your Firewall

Firewalls should be securely configured and continuously monitored. There are many providers that perform 24-7 firewall monitoring services to protect your company from attacks and or to alert you to signs of a possible breach. Moreover, providers are also coupling these services with the use of whitelists or blacklists, which triggers an immediate response if a potential threat is identified. Another great reinforcement for companies with experienced IT staff, would be the implementation of SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) or IDS (Intrusion Detection System) software.

2. Take Your VIP List Seriously

Not everybody should have access to your company’s domain – especially outside groups, and you should take care to review your employee and vendor access accounts routinely. The 2013 Target breach was a result of a breach that was intended for one of Target’s vendors. But, once in, the hacker was able to work his way into the Target Vendor Portal and infiltrate the Target POS systems.

3. Don’t Take Your Passwords For Granted

While doing so, be sure to verify that these credentials, in particular, require complex passwords, a limit on the number of attempts allowed before automatically disabling the account, and that they are required to be changed regularly. (Believe it or not, the most common password continues to be “123456” – proving that we are still not learning from past mistakes.)

By: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more data security best practices

Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

Who Is That Email Really From?

Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

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Quiz Results Are In – And The News Is Good

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Ohio Department of Taxation Stops Thieves From Stealing Millions

Identity Theft & Income Tax Refund Fraud Resource | Ohio CPA Firm

The implementation of an identification verification quiz by the Ohio Department of Taxation has helped stopped identity theft and income tax fraud since it was implemented last year for the 2015 income tax season.
Rea & Associates recently compiled a variety of information to help victims of identity theft and refund fraud recover from this nightmarish scenario. Click the image above to access this resource.

Tax fraud has been on a steady upswing for quite a while – a frightening trend that has led the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) to take innovative measures during the 2015 tax season. Nearly one year after announcing plans to implement the state-wide quiz designed to filter tax-refund requests by analyzing demographic information reported on the taxpayer’s return, officials boasted incredible results.

While ODT reported a 400 percent increase in fraudulent refund requests in 2015 from the year prior, the quiz helped the department prevent 232,898 suspicious returns from being filed – which saved the state about $256.5 million in illegitimate funds.

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

The implementation of this verification method was deemed necessary after ODT noticed a monumental increase in fraud cases during the 2014 tax season – $250 million in attempted tax fraud – compared to previous years when the average was around $10 million.

“We appreciate the taxpayer’s time in taking this extra step before receiving their refund,” said Joe Testa, tax commissioner, in a release. “The quiz has been and will continue to be instrumental in stopping fraud.”

According to the ODT, the tax quiz has been effective because of its effectiveness when analyzing tax returns for inconsistent data points against public and commercial data sources. For example, a return may be flagged if your name and/or Social Security number show up in a different parts of the state (or in another state altogether) when you have been primarily located in another area of Ohio over the last few years. To claim your refund, you will be required to take the identity quiz, which would either indicate that you’ve moved in the last year or that a fraudster is trying to claim your refund. For your return to be processed, you must either take the quiz or provide documentation to verify your identity.

Testa also said that the department has gathered feedback and have “made some changes to improve the process and provide a better experience for taxpayers who take the quiz.”

Looking ahead, taxpayers should expect to see more of the identification quiz in 2016 and beyond. Here are three things you should know about the identification quiz:

  1. Allow more time

Traditionally, it takes up to 15 days to process refunds that have been distributed to the taxpayer via electronic deposit. Those who opt to receive their refunds in check form could have to wait up to 30 days. The quiz, however, could prolong the process.

  1. Know, don’t guess

Those who are selected to take the quiz, will receive a letter that will explain your next steps. If you do not receive this letter, you will not be able to complete the quiz.

  1. Be prepared

If your return is flags, you will have 60 days to complete the multiple choice quiz. Furthermore, the quiz is timed and must be completed online.

To learn more about the effectiveness of this measure or for more great information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions available on the DOT website.

Are you wondering if you are going to need help filing your 2015 tax return this spring? Email Rea & Associates for assistance.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Want to discover more ways to prevent or recover from identify theft? Check out these articles.

How Do You Protect Yourself from Identity Theft?

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You

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Employers: Are You Ready To Change The Way You Withhold Municipal Tax Payments?

Monday, December 7th, 2015
Municipal Payments - Ohio CPA Firm

The new year also marks new changes to the way many employers withhold their municipal taxes. Read on to learn more.

Ready or not, all Ohio municipalities will be welcoming a slew of new provisions designed to bring about a unified system of income tax reporting. House Bill 5 was signed into law by Gov. Kasich on Dec. 19, 2014. The bill, which was championed by the Ohio Society of CPAs and supporters, helped streamline several key measures that help establish meaningful municipal tax reform. Per the legislation, many key provisions are scheduled to take effect at the first of the year. Here are four facts about the changes that you need to become familiar with:

For more insight into why these changes were necessary, read: Tackling Ohio’s Tough Municipal Tax Issues

1. Due dates have changed. 

Municipalities will have to adhere to new withholding due dates with regard to their monthly filing and payment requirements. They are due on the 15th following the month they were withheld. Due dates for quarterly filing and payments will be on the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter.

2. New withholding thresholds.

If you withheld more than $2,399 in municipal taxes during the last calendar year or more than $200 during one or more months during the recent quarter, you will now be required to file your withholdings monthly.

3. A defining moment for temporary work sites.

An employer is not required to withhold municipal income tax on qualifying wages for the performance of personal services in a municipal corporation that imposes such a tax if the employee performed such services in the municipality on 20 or fewer days in a calendar year, unless one of the following conditions apply:

  • The employee’s principal place of work is located in the municipal corporation.
  • The individual is a professional entertainer or professional athlete, the promoter of a professional entertainment or sports event, or an employee of such a promoter.
  • The employee performed services at one or more “Presumed Worksite Locations.”
  • The employee is a resident of the municipal corporation and has requested that the employer withhold tax from the employee’s qualifying wages.

If an employer does not withhold for those first 20 days, they have to withhold the principal place of work’s municipal income tax. Because it’s impossible to be in two places at once (a rule that is just as true in accounting as it is in the metaphysical world) special guidelines are needed for those employees who work in more than municipality on a given calendar day. If an employee works in multiple municipalities in a single workday, for example, the municipality that they worked in the most number of hours would be the one that would be counted for that day. The rules that govern this provision are very detailed. Click here to read more. Once the employee exceeds the 20 day threshold, taxes must be withheld for that municipality. Retroactive withholding, however, is NOT required.

4. New rules for small businesses.

If your business earned less than $500 thousand over the preceding taxable year, the government considers your establishment to be a small employer, which means that the withholding process is just a little different. Small businesses must withhold municipal income tax on all employees’ qualifying wages and remit that that tax only to the municipal corporation in which the employer’s fixed location is located – regardless of the number of calendar days worked throughout the year. Further clarification can be found here. Federal government, state government, state agency or municipalities, political subdivision or any entity treated as a government for financial accounting and reporting are excluded from the small business rule.

Additional information can be found here. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the upcoming changes and how you can remain compliant with these new provisions; email Rea & Associates and ask to speak with one of our tax experts.

By Heather McNichols, (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for some more tax tips to help you prepare for the 2016 filing season? Check out these articles:

Breaking The Tax Bracket Myth

Does Your Vacation Home Provide Tax Relief?

New Payment Option Available To Ohio Pass Through Entities

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New Payment Option Available To Ohio Pass Through Entities

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

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

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

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

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

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

What Does Having The Right Business Structure Mean To You?

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

Want A Better Business? Structure Matters from Rea & Associates
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You Can Still Have The Final Say After Death

Friday, October 23rd, 2015
Estate Planning - Ohio CPA Firm

It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of assets to pass on or very few, estate planning is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for those you love.

Life is full of enjoyable experiences. Spending time with family and friends, hiking through the woods, spending the afternoon on the lake, immersing yourself in a hobby – these are the moments we live for. What if you could give yourself the opportunity to make those moments more enjoyable? Would you take that opportunity?

Click To Listen To Episode 6 of Unsuitable on Rea Radio: The Grim Reaper Is Coming … And He Wants Your Money

Every time you avoid the conversation about estate planning you miss out on a chance to make this period of your life even more enjoyable – for you, and for your loved ones. Once you have made your plans with regard to what you want to happen after your death, those thoughts are no longer in the back of your mind. They are decided and you can truly enjoy the moment with your friends and family.

Three Things Everybody Should Know About Estate Planning

  1. Estate planning is for everybody. Estate planning isn’t just dependent on your assets; it’s about identifying what you want to happen after you pass away. Who do you want to take care of your children, for example, and do you want that person to be financially responsible for them as well – they don’t necessarily have to be the same people. When you take control of your estate planning, you are effectively helping to ease the burden that is already felt by your loved ones. Not only will you have already made the difficult decisions, but you can do so in a way that provides additional benefits for your heirs while securing your legacy.
  2. If you have an IRA, don’t forget to name your contingent beneficiary.  It’s common to have an IRA through your employer, but oftentimes naming the IRA’s contingent beneficiary is forgotten. Usually it’s your spouse, but if your spouse has already passed away, you need to make sure to name a new contingent beneficiary. This is just one simple way to plan ahead, but it’s frequently overlooked.
  3. Probate Court isn’t always a bad thing. You hear people say things like: “You want to avoid probate at all costs.” But that’s not necessarily the case. For example, imagine that you’ve made plans to have all your assets go directly to your three children – avoiding the probate process altogether. When it comes time to pay for your funeral, you would hope that your three children would split the cost three ways without much ado. But, without Probate Court to mediate the situation, one child could decide that they don’t want to pay their portion, which would leave the other two children with the bill. When you bring probate into the equation, you help ensure that there is enough money available to cover these necessary funeral expenses.

Find Time To Enjoy More

It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of assets to pass on or very few, estate planning is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for those you love. The sooner you start planning yours, the sooner you can get back to enjoying the moments that truly make life worth living.

By Dave McCarthy, CPA, CSEP (Medina office)

Dave McCarthy Discusses Estate Planning during Unsuitable on Rea RadioLearn more about the importance of estate planning. Listen to “The Grim Reaper Is Coming … And He Wants Your Money” podcast on Unsuitable on Rea Radio at or on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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Stop The Family Drama With A Buy-Sell Agreement

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

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

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

Listen to the podcast: How To Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real, Simple Solutions

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

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

An Effective Kick In The Pants

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

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

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

Accountants Like To Laugh Too

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

Just The Right Length

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

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

By Lee Beall, CPA (Dublin office)

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


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Happy Manufacturing Day 2015

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Manufacturing Day - Ohio CPA FirmToday, the team at Rea & Associates is celebrating you – our manufacturing leaders who continue to work hard to promote the American values that continue to make our country a great place to live, work and play. We are proud to stand at your side as you educate our citizens about the value of seeking prosperity through a career in the skilled trades; and we are united in the mission to build strong, sustainable communities – both locally and throughout our great nation. The manufacturing industry is undoubtedly the cornerstone of the American economy and we are proud to stand with you as you continue produce and disperse high-quality products, employ countless hard-working men and women, and give your ongoing support to our local and national educational systems, nonprofit organizations and business communities. You, our manufacturing leaders, have helped shape our history; and you will continue to forge our future. Thank you for all that you do. This year, in celebration of Manufacturing Day 2015, we had the opportunity to speak with manufacturing leaders who are doing great things throughout Ohio to find out what they consider to be some of the most challenging aspects of owning a manufacturing business and they had a lot to say about today’s regulatory roadblocks.

Click here to read what other manufacturing leaders facing and why they are calling for regulation reform.

We also thought you might find this slideshow to be a valuable resource.

Take A Detour: Top 4 Detours For Financial Relief – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

We hope you have a happy manufacturing day and a great weekend.

Check out these articles to discover more tips for manufacturing leaders:

Research & Development Credit Benefits Businesses Of All Sizes

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

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

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Colored Pencils, Glue and … Rubber Pants? Oh My!

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

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

Ohio Sales Tax Holiday - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA FirmRegardless of whether you are a parent with younger children, a student, a teacher, or maybe just someone who wants to stock up on a ridiculously large supply of colored pencils and glue, by the time you buy everything you need for that first day of school, you (and your bank account) are drained. OK – maybe it’s really not that bad, but by the time you purchase new clothes and shoes, a book bag or two and all the items that go in it, you will have spent a large sum of money.

Fear not fellow Ohioans! The Department of Taxation is offering relief.

This year, for the first time ever, the State of Ohio is giving those who shop for clothing (priced at $75 or less per item), school supplies (priced at $20 or less per item) and school instructional material (priced at $20 or less per item) a break from paying sales tax beginning 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7 and ending 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. And there is no limit on the quantity of items you can purchase.

“As the new school year approaches, additional expenses can put a strain on family budgets, said Ohio Tax Commissioner in a news release. “The sales tax holiday will give back-to-school shoppers a break from paying sales tax, and let Ohio families save some money.”

The one-time tax holiday, which was enacted as a result of Senate Bill 243, also applies to eligible items purchased online, by mail, telephone or email. But to qualify, the order must be placed, paid for and accepted by the retailer for immediate shipment during the hours the tax holiday is in effect. That being said, actual delivery can occur following the tax exemption period.

Read on to learn five interesting facts about the upcoming tax holiday.

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

  1. Retailers cannot “opt out” of the 2015 Ohio Sales Tax Holiday event. The holiday is set by law, therefore all vendors must comply.
  2. Qualifying items placed on, or picked up from, layaway during the sales tax holiday ARE exempt from sales tax.
  3. During the sales tax holiday, all clothing that costs $75 or less is exempt from sales tax. So, obviously items such as shirts, pants, dresses, uniforms, shoes, coats, etc. are tax exempt; but items like receiving blankets, diapers, rubber pants and athletic supporters also made the cut.
  4. While you won’t have to pay sales tax on your aprons, belts and beach capes, wigs, belt buckles and wetsuits are another story. Make sure to check the official web page for more clarification.
  5. Teachers are also encouraged to take advantage of the holiday! In addition to traditional school supplies, the tax exemption is valid for reference books, maps, globes, textbooks and workbooks.


Click here to learn more about Ohio’s 2015 Sales Tax Holiday. Happy back-to-school shopping!

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

 Want to learn more about state and local tax topics that impact your life?
You might like these articles:

[SLIDESHOW] The Truth About Tax Extensions
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This Settlement Rocks: Municipalities Can Claim A Portion Of $11.5M

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
rock salt settlement - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

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Morton Salt, Inc., and Cargill Inc., the only two companies that mine rock salt in Ohio for commercial sale, agreed to pay a settlement totaling $11.5 million, in an attempt to resolve allegations that the two companies divided rock salt between themselves in an attempt to drive up salt prices.

Mother Nature has never been shy about hammering Ohio with frigid temperatures and record-breaking snowfalls, which is why rock salt continues to be essential in our battle to keep the state’s roads and bridges free from ice. And if you thought your municipality was paying a premium to beef up its salt reserves in the past, you were probably right.

Get Your Money Back

Last month, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Ohio Turnpike Commission and local government entities may be entitled to get some of the money back that they spent on rock salt between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2011.

Morton Salt, Inc., and Cargill Inc., the only two companies that mine rock salt in Ohio for commercial sale, agreed to pay a settlement totaling $11.5 million, in an attempt to resolve allegations that the two companies divided rock salt between themselves in an attempt to drive up salt prices. While the companies continue to deny any wrongdoing, they did agree to pay back some of the funds that were charged to public entities across the state.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, all eligible public entities will receive a payment based upon their share of rock salt purchases.

How To Submit Your Claim

To submit a claim, you must complete the official online claim form or the official mail-in claim form no later than Aug. 7.

Your claim must include:

  • Contact information for the public entity making the claim
  • The details of your entity’s salt purchase for each season, including:
    • The quantity (in tons)
    • The cost per ton
    • Total dollars spent
    • Any additional information that may be relevant to your claim
  • Certification that your claim is correct and that you are authorized to submit the form on behalf of your public entity.

While you do not need to submit invoices or other documentation with your claim, you will likely need this documentation to accurately complete your claim.

According to an official news release from the Ohio Attorney General, the antitrust lawsuit was brought against Morton and Cargill in Tuscarawas County on March 21, 2012, and alleged that the two companies agreed not to compete in an attempt to drive up the rock salt prices – a practice that persisted for nearly a decade, ending in 2010. As a result, ODOT, the Ohio Turnpike Commission and local government entities allegedly paid “above-market” prices for their rock salt supply, which is an essential resource that aids in their responsibility to keep all Ohioans safe by helping keep roadways, highways and bridges clear of ice.

“I believe that this settlement is a very positive result for the people of the state of Ohio. The millions that will be distributed to the state and to local governments would never have been returned to them if we had not filed this lawsuit and aggressively pursued this case,” said DeWine.

If you need help determining whether your public entity can claim a portion of this settlement or need help navigating the claims process, email Rea & Associates.

By Chad Welty, CPA (Medina office)

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The Plight of the Snowbird

Friday, June 19th, 2015

It’s warm and muggy now, but once winter blankets the Buckeye State with record snowfall and subzero temperatures again, you will likely be kicking yourself for not having hightailed it to Florida after last year’s bitter cold snap. Sure, it’s easy to say that you would like to pack up and head for a warmer climate during a seemingly endless freeze, but once the icicles melt and the flowers bloom, you begin to remember why you’ve stayed around for so long in the first place. Maybe the fact that your family and friends still call Ohio home is enough to convince you to stay put. Or perhaps its memories of your own childhood that are keeping you tethered to the state. Either way, now that it’s summer – the need doesn’t seem so intense anymore … that is, unless you are considering taking advantage of possible tax savings.

Will Taxes Influence Your Decision To Fly South This Winter?

The Plight of the Snowbird - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Now that you have settled on whether or not you will be packing up and moving for tax and/or weather reasons, make sure you know what’s involved when it comes to changing your state of domicile.

What if I told you that the State of Ohio has made it a little easier for you to escape the winter chill, spend more time in the nation’s heartland during the seasons you love and save on your tax bill? Would you consider making the move then? If so, you’re in luck!

Read: How Can I Make The Most Of My Retirement?

Which State Do I Call Home?

For some, it’s relatively easy to buy and maintain several homes across state lines. The hard part comes when the Internal Revenue Service wants you to decide which home should be considered your primary residence based on how much time you spend in each state. These are the facts that will ultimately influence whether you pay taxes or not. If you are a snowbird who flocks back and forth between Ohio and Florida, for example, to avoid reporting your income to Ohio for tax purposes, it’s up to you to prove that you have spent no more than seven months (or fewer than 212 contact periods) in the Buckeye State. That compares to the 182 contact sessions (or six months) snowbirds were allowed to remain in Ohio under prior rules. The rules were changed in March.

How Do I Change My Residence For Tax Purposes?

Now that you have settled on whether or not you will be packing up and moving for tax and/or weather reasons, make sure you know what’s involved when it comes to changing your state of domicile. Some states, such as Florida, require basic documentation to establish your change of domicile. Therefore, you should make sure all your paperwork is in order, including your Declaration of Domicile. And while you are filing paper work to establish your new residence for tax purposes, keep in mind that some states, including Ohio, require documentation in order to relinquish your residency. Ohioans looking to relocate must complete and sign an Affidavit of Non-Ohio Residency/Domicile. This document helps establish your desire to establish nonresidency within the state. But keep in mind that there are there are other bright line tests the State of Ohio may look at to help determine whether you are actually domiciled in another state. For example, the State may look for information that indicates where you are registered to vote, which state issued your driver’s license, where your vehicles are titled and what address is listed on your tax return.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the tax benefits some snowbirds enjoy and whether migration is right for you.

By Trista Acker, CPA, CFP (Dublin office)


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What’s That ‘New’ Charge On Your Amazon Bill?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Amazon Looks To Drone Delivery - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Amazon appears to be unaffected by the possible repercussions of adding sales tax to customer’s invoices as its focus seems to have shifted from a superior price point strategy to high efficiency and extra speedy service. According to reports, the online giant continues to move forward with initiatives that promise even speedier delivery – further cutting the time it takes for a product to hit the customer’s front porch after the order was placed.

If you aren’t already aware, Amazon is in the process of bringing three of its data centers and a distribution center to Ohio. And yes, the company’s decision to open up shop in the Buckeye State is expected to boost the state-wide economy and add about 1,000 jobs to the ranks. But what is generating the most excitement these days (at least throughout Ohio’s retail industry) is the company’s new responsibility to collect sales tax from our state’s shoppers.

Read: If You Buy Online You Might Owe Use Tax

Traditional retailers anticipate this move will effectively level the playing field, helping encourage the growth of the state’s locally-owned businesses. Amazon, however, appears to be unaffected by the possible repercussions of adding sales tax to customer’s invoices as its focus seems to have shifted from a superior price point strategy to high efficiency and extra speedy service. [SPOILER ALERT: Drone delivery appears to be imminent!] According to reports, the online giant continues to move forward with initiatives that promise even speedier delivery – further cutting the time it takes for a product to hit the customer’s front porch after the order was placed. The company is also exploring ways to keep the cost associated with such speed minimal – information from the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals the company’s desire to “dominate the skies.”

Ohio-Based Amazon Shoppers Begin Paying Sales Tax

Paying taxes on your purchased items is not a new phenomenon. In fact, you’re probably not too shocked to see the roughly 7 percent (based on your county) charge permanently affixed to the bottom portion your receipts whenever your purchase a variety of products from a local brick-and-mortar shop. Until June 1 though, Ohio residents didn’t see this charge when purchasing products from Amazon, simply because the online retailer wasn’t required to make those living in the Buckeye State pay these taxes.

In Ohio, only vendors with a physical presence in the state, such as a storefront, warehouse, factory or call center, must charge sales tax to in-state customers. Otherwise, it’s up to individual taxpayers to report and pay the taxes when filing their annual tax returns, which is a relatively uncommon practice.

“The Ohio Department of Taxation has estimated that Ohio will lose out on about $400 million in unpaid sales or use tax on unpaid sales or use tax on so-called remote sales this year,” reported The Columbus Dispatch. “More than 5 million Ohioans filed tax returns for 2012. Of those, a little more than 50,000 paid a total of $3 million in taxes due on Internet or mail-order purchases. Retail groups and analysts welcomed the news that Amazon will start collecting taxes.”

Ohio Taxpayers Still On The Hook For Other Purchases

It may seem like it’s too soon to start thinking about your 2015 tax return, it’s actually a great time to start collecting information you will need to complete your paperwork early next year. For example, while you won’t need to collect your Amazon receipts anymore, you may have to keep tabs of your Etsy habit (for example) to help make calculating your 2015 use tax as simple as possible.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about use tax.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)


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Charter Schools Can Thrive In An Era Of Reform?

Friday, May 8th, 2015

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

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

Slideshow: Top 5 Tips For Charter Schools

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

Charter Schools Continue To Grow In Popularity

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

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

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

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

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

How Are These Proposals Different?


Charter School Changes - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Zac Morris, CPA (Millersburg office)


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Cash Continues To Flow From Ohio’s Shale Industry

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Companies Eye Mercer County For Fossil Fuel

Current news reports suggest that oil and gas companies will continue to invest in Ohio’s shale industry which could provide more opportunities for land owners.

For many of us, the future of Ohio’s shale industry has become a regular topic of conversation. And as a landowner in the state’s Marcellus and Utica shale regions, you’ve probably wondered what (if any) effect current events, such as the state budget and plunging energy prices, will have on your financial well-being. While nobody can predict the future, I’m optimistic we won’t see any major slowdowns over the next few years. Here are a few reasons why:

Severance Tax Sees The Cutting Room Floor

We recently learned that Gov. Kasich’s plan to increase the state’s severance tax on horizontal drilling to pay for the plan to cut income taxes was removed in the newest rendition of the state’s proposed budget bill.

The governor’s original two-year budget plan called for oil and gas produced by horizontal wells to be taxed at a 6.5 percent tax rate for product sold at the wellhead – while 4.5 percent tax would have been applied to product sold downstream. Earlier this year, Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa told the media that the governor’s proposed tax hike was because Ohio’s horizontal drilling industry has become more developed and that drilling has proved to be less expensive than anticipated. In response, American Petroleum Institute’s Executive Director, Chris Zeigler, argued that the original budget proposal placed the “future development of Ohio Shale at serious risk.”

Now that the proposed tax increase in question has been removed, one could assume that drilling companies are breathing a sigh of relief. However, while there appears to be no new initiatives in play to raise the existing severance tax rate at the moment, the new budget proposal still has a long legislative journey to make before the June 30 deadline.

Shale Investment Appears To Be Untouched By Low Energy Prices

Lower prices at the pump might be a bit unnerving if you are, for example, in the process of finalizing a mineral lease agreement. But have no fear, even though new drilling initiatives in Ohio’s shale regions are slowing, according to Business Journal Daily, “oil and gas exploration continues to have positive ramifications across the region.”

As Ohio’s oil and gas industry matures, it continues to become more efficient, which has helped it persevere at a time when oil producers in the Middle East and elsewhere appear to be maintaining higher production quotas in an effort to price horizontal drillers out of the market. For example, the practice of “super fracking,” by which producers pump higher quantities of sand into the wells they fracture, has increased productivity from 400 barrels a day to 600. The result is a lower break-even cost for producers and, in general, more staying power than experts had initially thought.

To date, Energy In Depth, an oil and gas trade organization, estimates that Ohio’s shale industry has grown to $22.3 billion, and expects it to grow by another $8.1 billion by 2016, with the construction or extension of additional pipeline infrastructure, power plants and processing plants. In other words – don’t expect the Ohio’s oil and gas industry to slow down any time soon. In fact, it could be expanding as landowners from other parts of the state appear to have been approached by companies looking to increase their reserves.

Companies Eye Mercer County For Fossil Fuel

About 10,000 acres of farmland located in the Mercer County area, about 60 miles southwest of Lima, has been leased for 3D seismic oil and gas exploration according to The Daily Standard, a local news publication. The leased property, which is primarily farmland, will be subjected to noninvasive 3D seismic tests that will identify whether “significant amounts of oil and/or gas” are present. The results are expected to be available by June.

The newspaper reports that “[more] than 90 land leases involving thousands of acres have been filed in Mercer County since 2013 between various companies and property owners … the legal documents give companies access to test, drill or perform other action on the land as stipulated in each agreement.” Mercer County Commissioners agreed to test some government-owned property as well.

This news is not only important to the residents of Mercer County, but to residents throughout Ohio. The fact that companies are actively seeking to further their investment within the state is promising for all landowners. And at the very least, this recent move signifies that these companies have no plans packing up and shipping out anytime in the near future.

Email Rea & Associates if you have questions about how current events could affect your leasing options or if you are considering entering into a lease agreement for drilling or exploratory purposes.

By David Shallenberger, CPA (Wooster office)


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Six Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Loved Ones’ Assets

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Making Moments Count: Family Financial Challenges

Bright Idea: Make sure everyone in your family has their financial information organized in one place. The organizer you’ll find in the financial resources section of our website is a great place to start. Click here to view our Personal Financial Records Document and get started today.

The value of our existence is measured by an infinite collection of meaningful moments that have shaped our lives and the lives of those around us. Perhaps our most precious moments occur when we positively impact the lives of our loved ones. We are all capable of initiating these moments and, sometimes, a simple conversation is all that is needed to provide insurmountable relief – now and for years to come.

Find out what else you can do now to improve your personal and financial well-being.
Read: Take Control Of Your Financial Wellness In 2015.

Even if they have never expressed their concern about the realities of aging before, it is almost certain that your parents are worried about their own mortality. Because this topic doesn’t typically find its way into casual conversation, it is your responsibility to broach the subject. Your parents will be grateful you did.

Here are five things you can do now to actively protect your loved one’s assets:

1. Overcome Your Discomfort

The first conversation about your loved ones’ finances is probably the most uncomfortable one, but it’s also the most important. It’s uncomfortable to talk to our parents about their death. Mom and Dad don’t find it thrilling either because they don’t want to be a burden. But as awkward as it is to discuss, you may eventually be shouldered with responsibility of managing the affairs your parents leave behind.

2. Set Up A Power Of Attorney

In order for you to assume this important role, you must be named as your parents’ power of attorney. This step gives you legal authority to pay their bills, maintain their residence, complete tax returns and review their financial investments.

If your power of attorney was established more than two years ago, verify that it was issued properly by today’s standards. Even though powers of attorney never expire, some have reported having problems with establishments that have updated their forms. The new forms no longer identify powers of attorney that were named several years ago.

Your parents can name multiple powers of attorney. But to avoid possible disputes, make sure that you and your siblings have your own, clearly defined responsibilities. Also, if your parents have decided to name a power of attorney, and it’s not you, make a point to respect their decision – even if you don’t agree with it. As long as a plan is in place, you and your family are on the right track.

3. Understand Your Responsibilities

Being a power of attorney is a big responsibility. Not only are you empowered to make tough decisions, your actions are now able to be scrutinized by everybody from the IRS to other family members. To avoid problems, carefully track how much money is coming in and going out and maintain thorough records. And call in the professionals if you feel like you’re in over your head.

4. Send In The Team

In the past, did your parents work with a team of professionals to manage their finances, legal affairs or anything else? If so, make it a priority to talk to them before moving any money or assets around. You will need to know if your parents set up a will, trusts, or anything else over the course of their lives. This team will not only be able to compile the information you need, they can answer your technical questions, which will make the entire process go smoother.

5. Compile An Inventory

To manage anything well you must have a clear picture of what it is you are managing. To that end, make it a point to compile a complete inventory of your parent’s assets and liabilities to create a clearer plan of action.

Do you know how the value of real property is determined?
Read: How Do You Value Property For An Estate In Ohio to learn more.

6. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Once you understand your responsibilities, simplify everything. For example, if your parents have seven or eight open bank accounts throughout the county or state, consolidate them into one – and don’t stop there. From assets to investments, consolidating these affairs will make your job easier and less confusing as you try to track expenses.

It’s not easy to manage your loved ones finances, but with the right approach, plan and team of advisors, you can do it – and do it well. Once you get your ducks in a row, you can focus on other, more important things – like making every moment with your loved ones count.

By: David K. McCarthy, CPA, CSEP (Medina office) and Frank L. Festi, Jr. CPA, CFP (Medina office)

This article was originally published in The Rea Report, a Rea & Associates print publication, Winter 2015. If you don’t already receive The Rea Report, our quarterly print newsletter, in your mailbox, click here and start your subscription today!


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Preserve Ohio History While Filing Your Taxes

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

We’re down to the wire. Just another week to go before April 15 – Tax Day. If you’re still working on your taxes, and are looking for an opportunity to make a donation on your state tax return – consider supporting the Ohio History Connection’s efforts. Read on to find out how you can support history preservation efforts throughout Ohio and even in your community.


Guest blog post by Emmy Beach of the Ohio History Connection:

The Ohio History Connection has developed an innovative way to help Ohioans support history preservation efforts across the state and in their communities. The best part: it can all happen in a matter of seconds.

It’s called the History Fund. The History Fund creates grants to help support local history and preservation-related projects in communities throughout Ohio. The History Fund is supported by Ohio taxpayers that select “Ohio Historical Society” as a donation fund on their state tax returns (the state tax form hasn’t caught up with their recent name change yet.).The entire process takes just seconds to complete.

The impact of donations can last for generations. Over the last three years, the History Fund has received nearly $300,000 in voluntary funding from Ohio taxpayers. This allowed the Ohio History Connection to green light more than 30 historic preservation projects that wouldn’t have received funding otherwise. History organizations have been able to accomplish important projects that have been on their wish-lists for years.

The History Fund impacts organizations big and small. This year, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame received a grant to preserve the work of Plain Dealer rock and roll reporter Jane Scott; in Athens, the Dairy Barn Arts Center received a grant to repair the structure of their community’s popular arts venue. In each case, the generosity of Ohioans helped preserve a chapter of Ohio’s more than 200-year-old story.

“The History Fund helps us share and preserve Ohio’s story by supporting local projects and programs in communities throughout the state,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO for the Ohio History Connection. “The work of local history organizations is helping to strengthen our heritage and ensure Ohio’s story is told for years to come.”

The History Fund needs to receive at least $150,000 this coming tax season to stay on Ohio’s tax forms for the next two years.

The grant program received $165,000 last year, with average donations of around $10.

“Small donations can make a big difference,” said Andy Verhoff, History Fund grants manager. “If every donor who gave last year gives just $10 from their refund, we’ll cross over the $150,000 threshold easily and have even more to grant in the future.”

The tax check-off process is a win-win for taxpayers and the state. History and preservation organizations across Ohio are revitalizing their communities, one project at a time.

To learn more, visit the Ohio History Connection History Fund page. You can also see historic Ohioans Annie Oakley and the Wright Brothers promote the History Fund in public service announcements videos below.


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How To Pay Your Tax Bill In 6 Easy Steps

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Pay Your Tax Bill With Direct Pay - Rea & Associates

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Direct Pay has proven to be a popular choice among Americans who are looking for a quick and easy option for settling their tax balances.

By now, you probably have a good idea whether you have an outstanding tax bill from the government, but did you know you can settle your balance online? Since May 2014, Direct Pay, a free and secure payment option, has provided millions of taxpayers with the option of making payments to the Internal Revenue Service at a time, and in a place that is convenient for them.

Late last year, employers learned that they were expected to file their taxes and make payments exclusively online. Click here to read more.

According to the IRS, four months after the initial launch of the payment program, more than a million payments, totaling more than $1.7 billion, were successfully processed. The web site currently accepts payments for current year tax returns, estimated tax payments, extension payments and prior year balances.

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Direct Pay has proven to be a popular choice among Americans who are looking for a quick and easy option for settling their tax balances. Those who make payments receive an instant confirmation message that their payment has been submitted. Or, if you need a little more time, you can schedule your payment up to 30 days in advance as well as choose if you would like your payment to be withdrawn directly from a checking or savings account. Making a payment is as easy as following six simple steps.

How To Make An Online Tax Payment

  1. Visit the government website at
  2. Click on the blue box labeled: “IRS Direct Pay”
  3. Choose the reason for making your payment. Your choices are that you are making an installment agreement payment, a tax return payment, an estimated tax payment, an amended return payment or “other” type of payment. Be sure to choose the applicable year.
  4. Next, verify your identity by confirming your filing status, social security number, address and date of birth. ID verification is required for each payment requested.
  5. Then, you must enter the amount you plan to pay and your bank information. (The IRS does not retain any routing or account numbers.
  6. Finally, you will be directed to a “final authorization” page, which will provide you with an online confirmation.

Once your payment has been submitted using Direct Pay, allow two business days for processing. Note: Payments submitted after 8 p.m. EST will be processed on the next business day. And if you need to make a change to your scheduled payment, you can edit or cancel the payment up to 11:59 p.m. EST two business days before the payment is scheduled payment date.

Ohio Online Tax Payments

If you owe taxes to the State of Ohio, you can make your payments online as well by visiting The state’s online payment system also allows for advance payments and does not require registration.

Online payment options are another way government entities are making an effort to provide more user friendly services. By using Direct Pay, or the state’s web-based payment option, you can avoid a trip to the post office and, better yet, have more control over when your payment is made and received. Your tax preparer can help you determine if online payments make sense for you and can answer any questions you may have. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Wendy Shick, CPA (Mentor office)


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How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Have you been (or suspect you’ve been) a victim of identity theft and refund fraud? Rea & Associates recently compiled a variety of information that will help you recover from this nightmarish scenario.

Suspecting, and then confirming, that you’ve had your identity stolen is a nightmarish scenario. It combines one of your worst fears, losing your wallet or purse, with all of the work of replacing the things that were lost. It can be so overwhelming you might be wondering: “Where do I even start?”

An increasing number of identity thefts are first identified when a thief attempts to file a tax return on your behalf and claim a federal or state tax refund. To help you navigate some of the issues you may be confronted with, we recently released a compilation of documents and resources.

The documents that are included are intended to help you navigate some of the issues you may be confronted with if you find that you’ve been an identity theft and fraudulent tax return victim.

Read “How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Beat The Identity Thieves

The guidance includes a variety of valuable information for those who have been (or suspect they’ve been) a victim of identity theft and refund fraud. The following is a brief synopsis of information included in this guide.

The IRS has provided a short list of items for you to complete, which is substantially similar to the items the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) covered in its longer, checklist-style guidance.

  • The primary item to complete for the IRS is Form 14039 which initiates the IRS fraud protection procedures.
  • Also included is a form letter, one of several, the IRS may send to a taxpayer if tax return fraud is suspected to be occurring on the account.
  • The IRS has published a number of articles related to identify theft and how to protect yourself. A master page with links to all these topics is included in this packet. You may also check out some of our recent articles on the topic, which can be found in the “Related Articles” portion of this post.

The process of reporting fraud in Ohio is similar to the IRS procedures.

  • Ohio also sends form letters to the taxpayer.
    • Ohio recently added an identity quiz for roughly 50 percent of taxpayers requesting a refund. This letter simply asks the taxpayer to complete a quiz specifically used to prove their identity. Note: This request doesn’t indicate that your identity has been stolen (unless you haven’t filed your tax return for the year yet).
    • If the Ohio Department of Taxation suspects fraudulent activity on the account, the taxpayer will receive a second letter that will indicate these suspicions.
  • Ohio includes an affidavit (Form IT TA) that must be filled out to initiate their protection procedures, similar to Federal.

The FTC is the primary federal government agency dealing with identity theft.

  • The FTC has put together a very detailed, checklist to help you with the identity theft process. The guidance includes information on most forms of identity theft – of which tax identity theft is just one. While this may be more information than you need, if the fraud has gone beyond your tax returns and includes false credit activity (or you are concerned this may happen), this guide will be very useful for you.
    • The guide includes a wealth of information, such as sample letters and a variety of websites and contact information to relevant organizations that can help you. It also guides you through the process of making a police report in response to the theft of your personal information.
  • Note: The IRS and the FTC generally do not share data with each other. Therefore if you have completed the IRS identify theft notification procedures, don’t assume that the FTC, credit bureaus, etc., are also aware of your situation.

Check Your Mail, Not Your Caller ID

Remember, the first contact taxpayers will have with the IRS regarding any issue will be in the form of an official mailed letter – not a phone call. These scammers appear to be determined to steal your money and/or your identity and reports of these types of scams continue to be on the rise. By educating yourself, your friends and your family, you are taking a proactive stance against these criminals.

If you would like to learn more about how you can protect yourself against, and recover, from Identity Theft & Refund Fraud, click here to view our compilation of documents and resources. You may also email Rea & Associates for more information.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office) and Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)


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Update: Ohio Tax Quiz Appears To Be Working

Friday, March 13th, 2015
Tax ID Quiz

According to officials at the Ohio Department of Taxation, while the new Identification Confirmation Quiz may be a pain in the neck, it appears to be working as a identity theft deterrent – Rea & Associates – Ohio CPA Firm

We have learned over the last month that Ohio’s new system of validating taxpayer identification, the Identification Confirmation Quiz, appears to be working.

In an effort to boost security and prevent tax-fraud in the state, the Ohio Department of Taxation introduced the quiz at the onset of the 2015 tax season and began flagging tax returns with data points that are inconsistent with public and commercial data sources. If their returns are flagged, taxpayers are required to take a Quiz to prove their identities.

Read: Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio

“Through Feb. 18, more than 1.3 million tax returns have been filed with about 874,000 requesting a state income tax refund. About half of the refund requests have been selected for additional screening to ensure that they were not filed by an I.D. thief,” stated Ohio’s Tax Commissioner Joe Testa in a press release. “About 97 percent of taxpayers taking the quiz are passing. That proves they are who they say they are.”

That means about 3 percent who fail the test are being declined to receive refunds that they would have normally received in previous years. As long as that 3 percent consists of actual identity thieves, the results reported are significant.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia Office)


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If You Buy Online You Might Owe Use Tax

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Ohio Use Tax

Amazon purchases aren’t the only ones to consider when you sit down to file your tax return this year. Other popular online retailers and groups, including Etsy, are also depending on their consumers to pay use taxes on the products they sell. – Rea & Associates – Ohio CPA Firm

If you are one of the millions of people who love to browse and buy online, it may shock you to learn that the Ohio Department of Taxation is looking at you to declare and pay a little more when you go to file your 2014 tax return. From gifts to grocery shopping, many of us use the ease of online shopping to snag a good deal and avoid the hassle of braving the brick-and-mortar shops – especially during the holidays, but sometimes that convenience might come at a price.

Were you charged sales tax for that pair of shoes you bought last October or those books you had shipped to your house in June? If the company you made purchases from doesn’t have facilities in the state or a law that requires it to collect sales taxes for your state, then it’s likely you owe use tax to Ohio – and you have to report your use tax on Line 19 of your Ohio Form IT 1040.

Use Tax Is Not A New Tax

Declaring and paying sales and use tax on your state tax return is not a new responsibility. The Ohio Department of Taxation states that “in transactions where sales tax was due but not collected by the vendor or seller, a use tax of equal amount is due from the consumer.” In Ohio, the use tax rate is the same as sales tax rate you would have paid if sales tax was correctly charged by the vendor.  This is usually the place of purchase (or your home address for shipments from outside Ohio). You can read Ohio’s use tax law in its entirety here.

As a courtesy, Amazon provides a brief explanation of the consumer’s responsibility to pay use tax on its website. Because Amazon suspects its customers aren’t keeping a file of receipts, the online retailer provides customers with the option to create and download an Order History Report, which compiles your download, shipment, return and refund activity and can be used to help calculate use tax.

But your Amazon purchases aren’t the only ones to consider when you sit down to file your tax return this year. Other popular online retailers and groups, including Etsy, are also depending on their consumers to pay use taxes on the products they sell. So make sure you take a second look at that packing slip and receipt.

Little Box, Big Pause

While the responsibility of paying use tax isn’t new, this is the first year taxpayers in Ohio are required to certify their use tax claim before filing their return with the state. If you didn’t shop online or make a “sales tax-free” purchase, you should have nothing to worry about – simply check the box and continue on. On the other hand, if you did partake in online retail therapy in 2014 and don’t have your receipts handy, you may have to pause your tax preparation to give yourself a little more time to find out what you owe.

To find out more use tax, email Rea & Associates.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)


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Governor’s Budget Proposal Makes The Case For Tax Reform

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Proposed tax increase on oil and gas production

If the proposed two-year state budget proposal passes, oil and gas produced by horizontal wells will be taxed at a 6.5 percent tax rate for product sold at the wellhead. If sold downstream, a 4.5 percent tax will be applied.

Since it was unveiled last month, Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year state budget has many individuals, businesses, school districts, not-for-profit organizations and others scrambling to find out how his proposed tax reform package will affect them. In his recommendation, Gov. Kasich says his proposal seeks to “create more opportunities for each and every Ohioan.” To this end, the budget focuses on four primary objectives:

  1. To ensure that students are ready for college and careers
  2. To help more students get degrees
  3. To cut and reform taxes
  4. To help Ohioans move up and out of poverty and into jobs

To achieve these goals, Gov. Kasich has proposed implementation of several tactics to help fund his $35.5 billion 2016 budget, which is up 15.5 percent over the state’s projected spending in fiscal year 2015. Of those tactics, a slew of tax cuts and increases are central to his budget initiative. The following points address some primary changes Ohioans can expect to see if Gov. Kasich’s 2016-2017 budget plan is approved.

Proposed Tax Cuts

  • A 23 percent across-the-board income tax rate reduction. This proposed cut would drop the top income tax rate to 4.1 percent, the current from 5.33 percent.
  • Business owners of pass-through entities with gross receipts less than $2 million will pay no income tax on their business income.
  • Other Ohio business owners will see the 50 percent reduction incentive on income that totals $250,000 and less become permanent.
  • Individuals who earn less than $40,000 will see a $1,600 increase in their personal exemption (from $2,400 to $4,000). The personal exemption for those who make between $40,000 and $80,000 will increase by $900 (from $1,950 to $2,850).

Proposed Tax Increases

  • The commercial activity tax (CAT), which is measured by a business’s gross receipts on business activities in the state, will increase 0.6 percent to 0.32 percent.
  • The state’s sales tax will increase to 6.25 percent. The current sales tax rate is 5.75 percent and would be expanded to include management consulting, lobbying, market research and opinion polling, public relations, debt collection services, cable subscriptions and parking and travel services.
  • Means-tested tax credits and exemptions for retired taxpayers who earn more than $100,000.
  • Oil and gas produced by horizontal wells will be taxed at a 6.5 percent tax rate for product sold at the wellhead. If sold downstream, a 4.5 percent tax will be applied.
  • The state currently reduces the price paid for the new car or boat by the value of the trade-in. The proposal calls for a 50 percent deduction in this exemption.
  • The discount vendors receive for collecting, reporting and remitting sales tax will be capped at $1,000 per month.

To learn more about how tax reform could affect you, email Rea & Associates.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)



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Signing On The Dotted Line

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Know What Your Pipeline Easement Agreement Entails Before Signing

For years, state and national economists have pointed to the Marcellus and Utica shale regions as a source of relief for Ohio’s economic well-being. As momentum continues to grow, more and more pipeline infrastructure will be built, providing landowners with an opportunity to enter into a pipeline easement agreement. While you may be handed a contract that looks favorable to you, make sure you completely understand your rights and responsibilities before signing.

6 Things To Know Before You Sign

  1. A pipeline easement grants a pipeline company permission to use your real property to transmit natural gas liquids. This means that your entire property is not affected – just the portion outlined in the contract.
  2. Understand the difference between a temporary easement and a permanent easement. A permanent easement refers to a time period of 30 years or longer and the amount is taxed at capital gains rates. This happens when the amount received exceeds the cost basis of the portion of the property where the permanent pipeline covers. A temporary easement pertains to a shorter amount of time and is taxed at your ordinary tax rate. A permanent easement is normally more favorable to the taxpayer because of the capital gains treatment.
  3. You are eligible to be compensated for anticipatory damages to your property. Anticipatory damages are awarded for damages that have not yet taken place. They are generally negotiated with the easement. There are two types of anticipatory damages; Compensatory and Non-Compensatory damages.
  4. Compensatory damages are linked to items such as crop damages, business income interruption, temporary work site rental and temporary road access. Basically if you are using the property to produce ordinary income or the pipeline company wants to rent a portion of the property while they work, the anticipatory damage income you receive is taxed at your ordinary rate.
    Non-compensatory damages are damages that are not tied to the items listed above and are taxed at capital gains rates.
    As a landowner, you can also receive actual damages after the pipeline easement is complete. Actual damages are taxed at capital gains rates and any amount of the actual damage payment that is invested back into the property is non-taxable.
  5. Pipeline easement payments are not ongoing. You will be compensated once, which will likely be when you sign the contract.
  6. Different opportunities are available for different people. For many, a pipeline easement may be an opportunity to save for retirement. For others, additional economic opportunities may be available. Your CPA is qualified to help individuals identify your best options – those that make financial sense and those that do not alter your lifestyle.

There are many different myths about pipeline easements. Your financial advisor can help you understand the facts, ensure that you get a fair price and manage your tax obligations.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about how to make the most of your pipeline easement.

By David Shallenberger, CPA (Wooster office) and Scott Moyer, CPA (Zanesville office)


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How To Prepare For A Federal Tax Return Headache

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Planning to buy a new big-screen television? Airline tickets for that Caribbean vacation you’ve been looking forward to?  A new car? You might want to wait a little longer.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently warned American taxpayers that some federal refunds could be delayed for a week or more because of recent budget cuts. So, if you file your tax return on paper, before you start spending that income tax refund check, you might want to wait for the cash to actually find its way into your bank account. Expect to feel a little discomfort during this tax season.

Refund Delays

Historically, refunds for electronically filed federal returns were processed within 21 days of the e-filing acceptance date. Paper returns were typically processed within six to eight weeks from the date they were received. Amended tax return refunds take even longer – the turnaround for these returns were typically 12 weeks.

“People who paper file tax returns could wait an extra week – or possibly longer – to see their refund,” said Koskinen in a memo sent to IRS staff. “Taxpayers with errors or questions on their returns that require additional manual review will also face delays.”

In his memo, Koskinen didn’t explicitly address electronically filed returns, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for these refunds to be delayed (at least a little bit) as well.

Phone Jams

Nearly eight out of ten taxpayers receive an average tax refund totaling $2,800, which prompts many taxpayers to check in on the status of their refunds by calling the IRS. The agency is predicting an abysmal connection rate of these calls this year – 43 percent connection rate with a hold time of 30 minutes or more.

Instead, if you would like to track the status of your refund, hang up the phone and log onto the IRS’s website to use its Where’s My Refund feature.

Time will only tell how these budget cuts will impact next year’s tax return process, as well as other services provided by the IRS. In the meantime, start preparing to file your tax return as early as possible to avoid additional delays. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By: Trista Acker, CPA, CFP (Dublin office)


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File Faster With This Tax Prep Checklist

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

It’s that time of year again – time to gather your information and prepare to file your tax return. If you want the process to go smoothly, make sure to gather and organize your information before sitting down with your tax preparer. You may be surprised how fast the entire filing process goes if you spend a little time preparing!

Here’s a list of some items to compile before you get started.

Personal Information

Hopefully you know YOUR social security number and date of birth by heart. But do you know your spouse’s SSN? Your kids? Make sure you remember to bring the social security numbers and birth dates of everybody who will be claimed on your tax return.

Income Info

While your W-2 is important, there are many other pieces of information you will need to collect before you will be able to get started. Gather the following pieces of relevant information:

  • W-2s for you and your spouse.
  • Investment income: This type of income will be listed on various 1099 forms including –INT, -DIV, -B, etc.). You may also have K-1s and stock option information to provide to your tax preparer.
  • Income received from state and local income tax refunds and/or unemployment. This income can be found on the Form 1099-G.
  • Gather information about any alimony you may have received.
  • If you are a business owner or farmer, don’t forget to provide a profit/loss statement and capital equipment information.  And if you use your home for business, your tax preparer will need to know the size of your house, the size of your office and what you have paid to maintain your home and office.
  • You will need to provide your IRA/pension distributions as well. This information will be provided to you on Forms 1099-R or 8606.
  • If you rent a home or other type of property, be sure to gather that information that proves the profit or losses you realized as a result of the rental.
  • Be sure to claim any Social Security benefits you may have received. This information is found on Form SSA-1099.
  • If you sold your house in 2014, you must provide your tax provider with Form 1099-C, which will include the income you received from the sale of the property. Your preparer will also take the home’s original cost and cost of improvements, the escrow closing statement and cancelled debt information into consideration.
  • Some other information you will need to pass along to your tax preparer includes items such as jury duty, gambling winnings, scholarships, etc..

Adjustments To Your Income

Now that you have collected all the information you can to adequately identify your income in 2014, some adjustments may need to be made. Making the following adjustments to your income may help increase your tax refund or lower the amount you owe to the government. If you have documentation of any of the following information, be sure to bring them to your appointment.

  • IRA contributions
  • Student loan interest
  • Medical Savings Account contributions
  • Moving expenses
  • Self-employed health insurance payments
  • Pension plans such as SEP and SIMPLE
  • Alimony you paid
  • Educator expenses

Itemized tax deductions and credits

This is another way to increase your refund or reduce what you owe. The following deductions and credits help lower the tax burden on individuals. Be sure to collect this information before filing your return.

  • Child care costs – child care provider’s name, address, tax ID number and amount paid
  • Education costs – these can be found on Form 1098-T
  • Adoption costs – the SSN of the child as well as legal, medical and transportation costs associated with the adoption
  • Home mortgage interest and points you paid, which can be found on Form 1098
  • Investment interest expense
  • Charitable donations that were made to not-for-profit organizations. Make sure you have the amounts and value of the donated property, and any out-of-pocket expenses you may have accrued in your effort to make the donation, including transportation costs. Include receipts for any contribution over $250

o   Losses you realized as a result of casualty and loss (the cost of the damage and insurance reimbursements

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Energy credits
  • Other deductions include items such as union dues, unreimbursed employee expenses, such as unreimbursed employee expenses

New for 2014 returns

For the first time, you will need to provide information about your health insurance coverage to your tax preparer. Be prepared to answer questions such as these:

  • Was everyone claimed on your tax return covered by health insurance?

o   If not, why?

  • Did you or anyone on your return obtain health insurance coverage through or through a state run exchange in 2014?

o   If yes, did any of those individuals receive a premium tax subsidy, cost reduction, or premium tax credit? If yes, provide Form 1095-A.

It’s likely that you have already started receiving tax forms in the mail from various places. It’s easy to misplace these documents if you’re not careful. If you haven’t already, set aside a place for these items until you have collected them all. Once you have everything you need, you can set an appointment to file your taxes with your financial advisor or tax preparer. For additional tax information, or to speak with a tax expert, email Rea & Associates.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)


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Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

If time is money then the new security measures to protect Ohio taxpayer’s returns and prevent identity theft comes at a price. The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) said that in an effort to boost security and prevent tax-fraud in the state, Ohio will implement an “up-front filter to all tax-refund requests to analyze the demographic information reported on the return.”

According to Joe Testa, the state’s tax commissioner, the ramped up security is in response to increased fraud attempts. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the state foiled $250 million in attempted tax fraud during the 2014 tax season, which is a significant increase over the foiled tax fraud average of $10 million in previous years. Figures of how much fraud went undetected last year or in previous years are not available.

The Tax-Fraud Quiz

If your tax return is flagged as a result of anomalies in reported demographic information then you will have to complete an Identification Confirmation Quiz, according to Testa. If you are selected to take the quiz, you should expect a delay as to when your funds will be dispersed. Traditionally, it takes up to 15 days to process refunds that will be distributed to the taxpayer via electronic deposit. Those who opt to receive their refunds in check form could wait 30 days to receive their money. This year, those who must take the quiz to validate their identities, may have to wait longer than they have in previous years to receive their refunds.

Which Returns Will Be Flagged?

On its website, the ODT says that tax returns will be analyzed for certain inconsistent data points against public and commercial data sources. For example, in the Dispatch article, taxation spokesman Gary Gudmundson said that “names and Social Security numbers that show up in a different part of the state, or in another state, after being located for years in a specific area of Ohio” may be flagged. This means that if you moved this year, your return may flagged as one that has a higher probability of fraud. The next step is to take the quiz to verify your identity. If the return is flagged, the taxpayer will be required to complete the quiz or prove their identity through documentation before the tax return will be processed.

How To Know If Your Return Was Flagged?

The ODT will send a letter to taxpayers who are required to take the identification quiz. Those who don’t receive a letter will not be able to complete the quiz. Those who are selected will have 60 days to complete the multiple choice quiz. The quiz will be timed and it must be completed online. The state agency has provided answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the quiz on its website.

Contact your financial advisor or seek out a tax professional to help guide you through these security measures. Email Rea & Associates for more information about this and other tax-related concerns.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (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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Nonprofit Service Is Voluntary, Workers Comp Coverage Is Not

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Did you know that the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) expects you to provide workers compensation coverage to your nonprofit’s board of directors? And while the bureau hasn’t heavily enforced this guideline in the past, you can expect to see more enforcement of the rule in the future.

We recently caught up with a BWC representative to validate a letter one of our clients received pertaining to this issue. The conversation was valuable because we were able to walk away with some important pieces of information that, over time, had either been forgotten or ignored by many in the nonprofit sector.

Even though your board of directors may not receive a paycheck for the time and resources they have put in to your organization, they are likely on the front lines when it comes to managing the organization’s volunteers, finances, events and other initiatives. In other words – they are “working” for you.

“Active executive officers of a corporation, except for an individual incorporated as a corporation or officers of a family farm corporation, are considered employees for workers’ compensation purposes,” the bureau states in its Coverage Information by Employee Types.

Here are four facts nonprofit organizations need to know to avoid issues with the BWC:

  1. An organization’s officers are always considered employees of the organization. Even if an individual receives no pay, officer status indicates that they’re responsible for regular organizational work. Therefore, they are identified as an employee by the BWC, not a volunteer.
  2. Individuals who perform volunteer, non-emergency services for private employers (including nonprofits) are not covered under the BWC’s compensation policy.
  3. Since the BWC identifies those who hold an office with nonprofit organizations as employees, the nonprofit organization is responsible for reporting all wages paid to officers to the BWC, as well as to the IRS.
  4. You must pay the minimum reportable amount even if you have an “all-volunteer board.” However, non-officer board members are not subject to these rules.

Email Rea & Associates today to learn more about the BWC’s compliance requirements. The sooner you understand your compliance requirements, the sooner you can get back to focusing on doing more for your communities, families and causes your organization cares about.

By: Maribeth Wright, CPA (Cambridge 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: Joe Popp (Dublin office)


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Outright Shale Sales Are Another Option For Landowners

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The work to unearth valuable minerals from the Utica and Marcellus shale deposits in Eastern Ohio continues to move forward at full speed. While many of the area’s landowners entered into mineral land leases years ago, some chose to put off the leasing process for later – it is now 2014. Several years have passed and the landowners who chose to wait are now facing a different set of choices and options concerning their land and the minerals found within.

What Has Changed?

If you’re looking to cash in on the shale boom, the traditional land/mineral lease alternative is no longer your only option. Today, some landowners are considering the outright sale of their mineral interests to an acquiring entity. While both options have their merits, this discussion is not intended to weigh the economic consequences when comparing land/mineral leasing versus the outright sale of your mineral interest. You should be aware of a few points surrounding the sale of mineral interests that may help govern your decision.

  • Outright sale agreements typically state that the landowner will agree to sell their mineral interests, specific to formation or generic, to an acquiring entity.
  • Per the agreement, the seller typically relinquishes all incidents of mineral ownership – and usually all rights to any future income streams based on the future production from the minerals in question.
  • If you choose to sell your mineral interest outright, your decision to do so may trigger tax planning opportunities, such as the “like-kind exchange” tax treatment for real estate transactions also known as the IRC1031 exchange. In other words, this particular transaction could qualify your gain from the sale of mineral interests to be deferred into the acquired “like-kind” real property. The acquired real estate must be held for trade, business or for other investment purposes.

Proceed With Caution

Before jumping the gun and making a decision based on the possibility of triggering the like-kind exchange, understand that the rules governing IRC1031 are very complex. The sale of mineral interest just adds to the complexity. It’s important that you speak with an advisor concerning a “like-kind exchange” before closing on the mineral interest sale, or the replacement property.

The like-kind exchange opportunity is not for everyone. For those who qualify, however, a mineral sale scenario with the right fact pattern coupled with a properly executed 1031 exchange could result in a significant tax planning opportunity for landowners who are seeking ways to minimize the current tax consequences.

While it’s great to have a range of choices when dealing with matters such as these, the larger selection has a tendency of making it harder to zero in on the information needed to make an informed decision. If you’re considering a land/mineral lease or an outright sale alternative, email Rea & Associates to get more information about these options.

Author: Jim Fracker, CPA (Zanesville 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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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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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)


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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)


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