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Small Business Reprieve on Health Premium Reimbursement Plans

Good news from the IRS: Small businesses have been granted a temporary reprieve if they've been paying employees the cost of buying their own health coverage. A few months ago that arrangement was deemed unacceptable and, therefore, subject to hefty penalties.

Click on "Read Full Article" below to review what you must do by June 30 to avoid penalties.

Ten Tax Breaks Available for Parents

The cost of raising a child has skyrocketed from $25,000 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture began tracking it in 1960 to more than $245,000 for the average middle-class family in 2013. And this doesn't include the cost of college. Fortunately, the IRS provides parents with some financial assistance by offering various tax breaks for raising children.

Click on "Full Article" below to read more.

Mortgage Interest Deduction - Not as Simple as it Seems

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the most popular in the whole tax code; however, it is more complicated than it first appears. Generally, you need to satisfy five factors before you can deduct mortgage interest.

Click on "Full Article" below for more information.

How to Handle IRS Notices

The IRS sends millions of tax notices to taxpayers every year, so don't panic if one unexpectedly arrives in your mailbox. Many are routine and computer-generated. You may not even need to speak directly with anyone at the IRS to clear things up.

Click on "Full Article" below for a discussion on the common types of federal tax notices and how to handle them with confidence.

Seeking a Job? You May Be Able to Deduct the Expenses

Did you know that if you are trying to find work in your current occupation, the costs of your search, including expenses for preparing and sending resumes, employment agency fees and related travel expenses, should be deductible? 

Is This Your Situation – Buying New Assets?

Your company has decided to purchase a substantial amount of new assets. Perhaps you are upgrading computers or buying trucks that are desperately needed.
Click Full Article before making a decision.

IRS Debuts Final Repair Regs

To expense or capitalize? That is the question companies face when they acquire, produce or improve tangible property. The IRS recently released its final framework for distinguishing between deductible costs and capital expenditures. The final rules -- more commonly known as the Repair Regs -- cover more than just repairs. They apply to virtually every operating business that owns or leases property, plant and equipment.

Starting a New Business or Organization?

When launching a new venture, one of the first questions that needs to be answered is: "What type of entity should it be?" The options are numerous and you need to choose a legal structure that best suits your enterprise.
Click Full Article to learn the six basic business ways to conduct your operation.

Choosing the Right Tax Entity - S-corp, C-Corp, Partnership, Proprietorship or LLC

Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPECIf you are like most owners of growing firms, you might wonder about the best way to protect your personal assets and conduct your daily activities. For some businesses, forming a corporation is the best solution. Others benefit most from the creation of a Limited Liability Partnership.

Some Unexpected Gifts Come At High Prices

John Murk, CPA"Never look a gift horse in the mouth" is one of those old adages that many of us grew up with. Sometimes, though, even the wisest among us might want to stop and think before accepting a gift with blind trust, particularly if it is coming from the IRS.

Really - Are You Paying Your Fair Share?

John Murk, CPAThe Congressional Budget Office released their report on the distribution of household income and federal taxes for 2008 and 2009. (Click here for the full report) The table below is a summary of various items in the CBO report. Upon review of this summary taxpayers can see that in 2009 the TOP 20% of wage earners made paid 67.90% of ALL federal taxes in 2009 and 94.20% of ALL FEDERAL INCOME taxes.

Smart Disaster Planning Steps

Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPECIt’s important for both individuals and businesses to protect themselves against the potential financial consequences of natural disasters. Here are a few smart tips we recommend. 

Why Do Small Businesses Fail?

Why Do Some Small Businesses FailAccording to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of entrepreneurships fail within the first five years of existence. Former small business owners cite a litany of reasons why their business didn't make it, usually ranging from complaints about banks and the government to their allegedly incompetent partners. Although some of these reasons are legitimate, most small business failures are caused by a lack of planning and focus on the part of the owners – despite the fact that there are many experienced professionals willing to provide assistance.

Making the Leap from Entrepreneur to Successful Leader

Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPECThe very assets that make entrepreneurs successful can turn into handicaps when their business ventures take off and they assume the role of boss. Going from being responsible for everything and being a hands-on player in every aspect of the business to having employees to supervise and delegate is a giant leap. Most of us make the transition in stages, but even so we have to adapt to change or we could end up sabotaging the success we've worked so hard to build.

Click on "Full Article" below to read more.

Does Appearance Make You a Better Leader?

Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPECCan "Executive" gestures make you a better leader? A recent Wall Street Journal post tells aspiring workplace leaders how to "act the part and look the part" of a "savvy" executive. WSJ news editor Joann Lublin writes of an "image makeover" and lists Dee Soder's tips "To Improve Your Executive Presence." Question: "Aren't there more important things than 'executive presence' that managers and executives need for success in their leadership roles?


Click on "Full Article" to read more.

Saying NO Makes Positive Impact in Workplace

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale changed the mindset of Americans by the millions with his long-time bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking. That concept is the target of at least one business expert who says it had a negative impact on a generation of business people – the tendency to say, "Yes" when they should say, "No."

Today, the increasingly viable response for better business results just may be "No." Click on "Full Article" below to find out why.

Surefire Ways to Market Your Business When You're Strapped for Cash

Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPECTraditional advertising and social media offer great ways to reach customers, but running an effective ad campaign requires a major budget commitment that many small business owners can't afford. Marketing isn't limited to advertising and some of its most effective tools are simple and affordable.

Click on "Full Article" below for some tired and true options.

The Importance of an Annual Business Valuation for Small Business Owner

People who built their businesses from the ground up are often surprised when it comes time to sell and they receive a lower-than-expected valuation. In fact, many business owners have no idea how much their business is worth. Business valuations can be complicated, but the annual use of professionals such as certified appraisers can help business owners figure out where they stand and what they can do to improve the value of their business well before they even think about selling.

Click on "Full Article" below to read more.

Creating a Disaster Plan for Your Business

The recent tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma remind us how vulnerable we are when disaster hits. Whether you live in tornado alley, a coastal area or inland, unexpected disaster can threaten your home or business with very little warning.

Click on "Full Article" below to read more.

Knowing Work Styles Predicts Work Behavior

"Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves, their strengths, their values, and how they best perform," according to Peter Drucker. And success for workplace leaders comes with knowing employees and associates. Know more…click on "Full Article."

Evidence Mounts: Emotional Intelligence Can Predict Performance

A recent analysis of Emotional Intelligence studies conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business confirmed higher Emotional Intelligence has a relationship to strong job performance. It's the latest piece of research showing that Emotional Intelligence can be a solid predictor of performance in the workplace. It may even be more important than IQ for some other parameters.


For the latest buzz on Emotional Intelligence and how to use it, click on "Full Article" below. 

Giving Your Team the Winning Advantage

Profitability requires two skills — identifying financial opportunities and turning them into bottom line results. You can improve profitability with training.
Click Full Article to see how profit coaching can help your business.

Is This Your Situation — Making Employees Partners or Shareholders?

Have you promised to make key employees owners? Do you need to keep the best people and can only do it through ownership?
Click Full Article below to understand some of the issues.

Unraveling the Complexities of the Healthcare Law

October 1, 2013 is an important date in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That is the date when open enrollment for health insurance coverage through the new "Marketplace" begins.

Understanding How the New Medicare Tax Affects Individuals

A new Medicare surtax, which took effect in 2013, could result in a higher tax bill for some people. The tax was part of the healthcare law passed in 2010. Who will be liable for the 3.8 percent tax? The IRS has issued proposed regulations clarifying details about the new tax and how it affects individual investors, trusts, estates and taxpayers who sell their homes.

Health Care Under Obama

The debate over repealing his Obamacare legislation has ended and plans are under way to meet the law's mandates by their respective dates. The following is a recap of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 as it pertains to general mandates and employer coverage, cost and credits.

Representing the Whole Person

Elder Law focuses on the legal issues
facing people and their families after the age of 55. Click Full Article for some tips about how to best plan your affairs, along with the issues that our office can assist you with.

When Someone Dies, Who Pays the Debt?

Although no one likes to think about end-of-life issues, it's always best to educate yourself on the fine points of estate planning to ensure a smooth transition for your beneficiaries. Given the current economy, how are credit cards and other loans paid off if a person dies and leaves outstanding debt? Are they paid from the estate before beneficiaries receive their inheritances?

Digital Estate Planning Deserves Consideration

Estate planning grows more complex every day. Not simply because of changes in tax laws, but also due to trends in modern technology. For example, consider what would happen to all of your online accounts – both financial and social media – if you were to pass away. Do your heirs know your usernames and passwords for access to email, investment and bank accounts?

Broaching a Sensitive Topic

To avoid future disputes, it's a good idea to share the details of your estate plans with your heirs. By doing so, you can not only minimize disagreements after your death, you can also explain why you made certain choices to pass on your assets. Click Full Article to see how our firm can help plan your estate smoothly and efficiently so that your wishes are carried out.

Non-Tax Reasons to Use a Trust

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made permanent the lifetime exclusion for estate, gift and generation skipping taxes. Obviously, a key reason people engage an irrevocable trust in estate planning is to help minimize estate and gift tax liabilities. If your estate is valued at more than $5.25 million (in 2013), excess proceeds are subject to a federal tax rate as high as 40 percent.

Importance of Planning for Incapacity in Estate Planning

Nobody likes to think of his or her own human frailty, but the sad fact is that most of us are just one second away from a debilitating illness or injury. While losing the ability to direct your own life is bad enough, failure to appoint a trusted person to act on your behalf can be even worse.

Add the New myRA to Retirement Savings Options

For millions of workers who don't have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the new myRA (which stands for My Retirement Account) enables them to save for retirement via paycheck deferrals. The account is free for employers to offer and employees pay no upfront or investment fees to participate. The plan was announced at last year's State of the Union address, but exact details of the savings program were only recently released by the Treasury Department.

Click on "Full Article" below for more information:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Roth IRAs

There still may be an opportunity to save on your tax bill from last year and save for your retirement. If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA right up until the April 17, 2012 filing date and still benefit from the resulting tax savings on your 2011 return.Read more for an explaination of some of the advantages and disadvantages of Roth IRAs,

Boomerang Kids: How to Protect Your Retirement Plans When A Child Moves Back Home

Adult children moving home after a job loss, divorce or other financial setback is an increasingly common trend. So-called boomerang kids are moving back in with parents at a record pace, up more than 5 percent between 2008 and 2010, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. One obvious cause is the weak job market that makes it harder for college graduates and inexperienced young workers to find well-paying positions.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

Do you need cash and own an expensive home that has appreciated a great deal? You may want to consider a reverse mortgage. This video explains how that financial tool lets you tap the wealth in your home and save on taxes. The sidebar explains the costs involved and takes a look at how holding onto your home until you or your spouse dies can trim or even eliminate taxes.

Things to Know Before Applying for Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits are largely funded by today's workers via payroll taxes. However, the number of retired workers is projected to double in less than 30 years. Furthermore, the ratio of workers paying Social Security taxes relative to the number of people collecting benefits is expected to fall from 2.9:1 to 2:1 by 2034.

Your Credit Score - More Important than You Think

How often during the day do you hear about credit scores? It seems you just can't get away from the advertisements. Whether in the car, watching television or on the computer, you see and hear about offers to help monitor or increase your credit score.

Click on "Full Article" to help you determine if you want to take any of these offers seriously. This article discusses just what the credit score is and how it affects your life.

Coordinate Your Advisor Team - How to get your financial advisor, CPA and attorney working together.

In today's complicated field of financial planning, no one professional can be a "Jack of all trades." It's important to build a team of advisors to take advantage of the full range of expertise to run both a business and your personal affairs. However, it's also paramount that these professionals work together to integrate tax planning with financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning, and so on.

Create a Plan for Family Business Succession

If you don't
show up at the office tomorrow, who will open the doors? Do you have a successor you trust, groomed and ready to step in? In a family business, a blood relative is important, but it doesn't guarantee that the person will nurture your company and care for customers the way you do. Don't leave the future of your business to chance. Here is some information with this key decision.

We Have Answers for Your Family Business Questions

Are you concerned because your children who work in the family business are not making equal contributions, yet they're being treated equal financially? Are you lacking a succession plan? These issues could threaten your company and your family.
For other important family business questions to consider, click Full Article.

Create A Plan For Family Business Succession

If you don't show up at the office tomorrow, who will open the doors? Do you have a successor you trust, groomed and ready to step in? In a family business, a blood relative is important, but it doesn't guarantee that the person will nurture your company and care for customers the way you do. Don't leave the future of your business to chance.

Click "Full Article" below for some help with this key decision.

Is This Your Situation — Your Children as Future Owners?

You own a profitable business and your children work with you. Eventually, you know the younger generation will take over but you're not quite ready to pass the torch. Plus, you're secretly nervous about depending on them one day — or worse, working for them.

Fight Back Against Internal Fraud

Theft from inside your company can take a serious toll on the operation. The median loss from internal fraud at construction companies is $300,000, according to a report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Here are some more details from the latest report, along with some smart strategies to help fight fraud in your business.

IRS Relaunches Pilot Program for Tax IDs

Protecting individuals against identity theft is a goal of all organizations and the IRS is no exception. The IRS recently announced the extension and modification of a program allowing certain information filers to "truncate," or only show part of, taxpayer ID numbers.

In Survival Mode? Don't Ignore Fraud Risks

During the recession, businesses have experienced an increase in fraud. Perpetrators can include angry laid-off former employees or staff members who justify stealing because they're worried about job security. At the same time, organizations are so overwhelmed by the economy that they let their guards down. The result is a perfect storm for devastating losses. Here's a look at three recent trends, as well as steps your business can take to detect and prevent fraud.

New Study Shows Increase in Senior Financial Fraud:

Senior fraud is a serious problem. You have probably seen many examples in the news, and it can happen to you or your aging parents. Strangers perpetrate more than half of all fraud against older citizens; however, it is likely that the 34 percent of reported cases of fraud committed by family members, friends and acquaintances is too low. In fact, most cases are unreported due to embarrassment or fear. The problem is probably much bigger than statistics indicate.

How to Protect Against Tax Identity Theft

Congress recently gave the IRS failing grades for not adequately preventing, identifying and processing identity theft cases involving tax returns. One member of Congress called tax identity theft "an epidemic that is profoundly unacceptable." Another joked that if bank robber Willie Sutton were alive today, he'd target the IRS. So how do protect against identity theft?

Beware Of IRS Related Identity Theft Schemes

The IRS is warning taxpayers to watch out for a new batch of Internet scams that are aimed at stealing identities and assets. This article describes four of the latest traps that con artists are setting, as well as ways you can spot an identity theft scam.

Help! I've Been Robbed! - Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

On February 2, 2000, a young child died. The loss was devastating for his family, but what happened when his parents tried to file their tax return only compounded the tragedy. The Internal Revenue Service disallowed the dependency deduction for the 1-year-old – but it was not the IRS' fault. At that time, the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where they lived allowed searches of death records that included Social Security numbers. Someone had stolen the child's identity; a theft that sent his parents into a nightmare.

IRS Allows Section 179 Deduction for Vineyard Planting Costs

The IRS has reversed its position on whether vineyard planting costs are eligible for a Section 179 deduction. That could provide tax savings for some operations. Here are the details of the IRS guidance as well as what it means for vineyard owners.

Horse Farm Workers Were Employees -- Not Independent Contractors

Hiring independent contractors is a common practice at many businesses, including farms. But if you use outside workers, make sure you understand and comply with the tax laws. In one recent U.S. Tax Court case, a farm was assessed unpaid taxes and penalties after it incorrectly treated workers as independent contractors, rather than employees. Here are the details of the case, along with the factors the IRS and courts use to determine worker status.

Farm Fraud: Help Prevent Grain from Being Stolen

Farming businesses that store grain at facilities may not expect that their crops will be stolen. But one case illustrates how it can happen. Here are the facts of the case, along with some tips on how to prevent fraud from happening to your operation.

Dealing With a CCC Loan in Your Farm Business?

Are you a farmer pledging all or part of your production to secure a CCC (Commodity Credit Corporation) loan? You may not be properly reporting market gain when you use CCC certificates to pay off your loan.

Tired of Rising Workers' Comp Costs?

The Workers' Compensation premiums your company pays are getting out of control. You're looking for ways to lower costs. Read the Full Article for some preventative steps that can result in big savings.

Expenses Incurred on Out-of-Town Job

You're traveling to a temporary construction job
and you'll be building up extra living expenses. You might be able to deduct the outlay on your tax return but be wary — the IRS conditions are stringent. Read the Full Article to find out how to qualify for a write-off.

Have an Office In the Home

You maintain an office at home where you make phone calls and catch up on paperwork for your construction company. Can you claim tax deductions for expenses associated with the office? Read the Full Article to find out.

Accurate Job Costing Improves Profits

Does your construction firm continue winning bid after bid, yet make less than your expected profits? You may want to consider re-evaluating your job costing system. Read the Full Article to learn how you can improve the process and enhance profits.

Considering a Large Project?

You're a construction firm owner
evaluating a large privately-funded construction job. To protect your company from default, it would prudent to obtain surety bonds to verify that contractors are qualified to perform the job. Read the Full Article to find out how our firm can help.

Be Clear on How Your Firm Classifies Workers

Video of the week Independent ContractorsIndependent contractors are a fact of life at many businesses trying to cut costs. If your company is one of them, be sure to comply with tax and benefit laws. This video explains how a misstep can come back to haunt you with back taxes, penalties and interest. The article outlines two federal programs: One is aimed at encouraging businesses to voluntarily reclassify workers; the other is a joint state and federal crackdown.

Better Budgeting Means Better Business

Budgeting is a necessary,
but sometimes difficult part, of operating any construction business. The more accurate budget you prepare, the easier it is to get financing, react to changing business conditions and get your company ready for the future. Read the Full Article for some budgeting hints.

Employment Trends in Construction: Mixed Reviews

Recent employment figures in the construction industry indicate a mixed bag of results. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), a Washington D.C.-based association of over 30,000 construction firms, unemployment in the industry fell to 9.1 percent, the lowest July mark in five years. At the same time, however, the numbers also show general stagnation over the last four months.

The Recipe for a Successful Restaurant

If only owning a restaurant was as easy as making a tasty dish. But the challenges go far beyond serving good food. There are payroll, cost control, bar cost, vendor negotiation, inventory, lease and expansion issues to deal with. Restaurateurs must comply with strict IRS rules, health regulations and more.
Click Full Article to see how we can provide the expertise you need to run a profitable restaurant.