Accounting Tips

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Do You Have a Business Continuity Plan? You Should

What if disaster strikes your business? An estimated 25% of businesses don’t reopen after a major disaster strikes.1 Having a business continuity plan can help improve your odds of recovering.

The Basic Plan

The strategy behind a business continuity (or disaster recovery) plan is straightforward: Identify the various risks that could disrupt your business, look at how each operation could be affected, and identify appropriate recovery actions.

Make sure you have a list of employees ready with phone numbers, email addresses, and emergency family contacts for communication purposes. If any of your employees can work from home, include that information in your personnel list. You’ll need a similar list of customers, suppliers, and other vendors. Social networking tools may be especially helpful for keeping in touch during and after a disaster.

Risk Protection

Having the proper insurance is key to protecting your business — at all times. In addition to property and casualty insurance, most small businesses carry disability, key-person life insurance, and business interruption insurance. And make sure your buy-sell agreement is up to date, including the life insurance policies that fund it. Meet with your financial professional for a complete review.

Maintaining Operations

If your building has to be evacuated, you’ll need an alternative site. Talk with other business owners in your vicinity about locating and equipping a facility that can be shared in case of an emergency. You may be able to limit physical damage by taking some preemptive steps (e.g., having a generator and a pump on hand).

Protecting Data

A disaster could damage or destroy your computer equipment and wipe out your data, so take precautions. Invest in surge protectors and arrange for secure storage by transmitting data to a remote server or backing up daily to storage media that can be kept off-site.

Protecting Your Business

If you think your business is too small to need a plan or that it will take too long to create one, just think about how much you stand to lose by not having one. Meet with your financial professional for a full review.

Source/Disclaimer:
1Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov/content/disaster-planning.

As a Corporation You Need to Follow the Rules

When you started your business, you may have formed a corporation to protect your personal assets from lawsuits against your company. However, you must also operate your business like a corporation — or risk losing the liability protection you expect to have.

No matter how long you’ve been in business, always treat your corporation as a separate legal entity. The corporation’s name should appear on company letterhead, checks, and invoices. Contracts should be made in the corporation’s name, not yours or another individual’s.

Avoid mixing your personal affairs and your corporation’s business. Maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards, and keep careful records of corporate transactions. File tax returns and pay any corporate taxes due on time.

Meet and Document

Hold shareholder and director meetings according to a regular schedule and keep official minutes of those meetings. Corporate minutes provide documentation of key financial and legal decisions, such as

  • Authorization for a substantial loan to or from the corporation as many local business owners in Darwin have done.
  • Adoption of a retirement plan or approval to make a contribution to an existing plan (e.g., a profit sharing contribution)
  •  Issuance of stock
  •  Purchase of real property or approval of a long-term lease

By observing the formalities, you can protect yourself and have the records you may need if the IRS, a creditor, or a company insider challenges critical decisions that were made.

Don’t get left behind. Contact us today to discover how we can help you keep your business on the right track. Don’t wait, give us a call today.

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Business Equipment – Lease or Buy?

To lease . . . or not to lease. This is issue business owners often face. If you are weighing the pros and cons of leasing versus buying, here are some things to keep in mind.

Cost
Evaluating costs is more complicated than comparing the price of leasing a piece of equipment versus its purchase price. You will also want to consider these issues:

  • How soon will the equipment need to be upgraded or replaced? Highly technical or specialized equipment becomes obsolete quickly and maybe a good candidate for leasing.
  • How will you arrange for service and repair? Leasing arrangements often include maintenance of the equipment. If you’re thinking of buying, research the equipment’s repair history as well as the cost and availability of reliable service.
  • How long will you need the equipment? If your use will be short term, then leasing may be the better option.

Cash
If you’ve been leasing your equipment, then your costs have been predictable. Purchasing equipment can substantially alter your cash flow. Be sure you consider how purchasing your equipment might affect your business’ finances.

  • Can you save money by buying or leasing equipment? If — and when — cash savings will be realized is an important factor for you to weigh.
  • Do you have the cash available to purchase the equipment? If you use cash for a down payment, you may have less cash for operating and other business expenses.
  • How will financing your equipment purchases affect your ability to get credit for other things? If you anticipate having future credit needs, you may want to avoid adding equipment loans to your current debt load.

If you’re weighing leasing versus buying, give us a call. We can help you look at how the various options will play out.

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Why Business Structure Matters

When you start a business, there are endless decisions to make. Among the most important is how to structure your business. Why is it so significant? Because the structure you choose will affect how your business is taxed and the degree to which you (and other owners) can be held personally liable. Here’s an overview of the various structures. One of the most frustrating aspects of business can be dealing with your customers or clients and one great solution that we have found are call answering services where you can get a professional company to do all of that for you.

Sole Proprietorship

This is a popular structure for single-owner businesses. No separate business entity is formed, although the business may have a name (often referred to as a DBA, short for “doing business as”). A sole proprietorship does not limit liability, but insurance may be purchased.Getting your commercial debts collected fast is important

You report your business income and expenses on Schedule C, an attachment to your personal income tax return (Form 1040). Net earnings the business generates are subject to both self-employment taxes and income taxes. Sole proprietors may have employees but don’t take paychecks themselves.

on’t know your bonjours from your buongiornos? You’re not alone: three-quarters of British adults can’t speak a foreign language competently[PDF]. But the benefits of being able to communicate with overseas clients, suppliers and buyers are huge – as are the costs of lacking that facility.

“The UK economy is already losing around £50bn a year in lost contracts because of lack of language skills in the workforce,” says Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on modern languages (APPG). “And we aren’t just talking about high flyers: in 2011 over 27% of admin and clerical jobs went unfilled because of the languages deficit.” The APPG’s Manifesto for Languages is calling for a raft of measures to tackle this problem, including encouragement such as tax breaks for companies who invest in language training.

In-house language skills win clients

By offering those skills, SMEs could find their client base growing. Solicitors Moore Blatch has always welcomed bilingual employees – its staff includes French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Japanese speakers. So it was well-placed to respond when it was approached by Polish charities seeking help for clients who had suffered personal injuries. The firm now offers a dedicated Polish legal claims service.

“Many businesses will rely on the help of translators, but we have found that investing in a dedicated service has led to stronger relationships with clients – so much so that the majority of work the firm receives under this service is through personal recommendations,” says partner Ciaran McCabe.

According to Ritu Bhasin, It’s not just about the ease of communication, either: knowing a language also means understanding a culture. PR agency ING Media specialises in architecture and has a global client base. Managing director Leanne Tritton says the fact the staff are multilingual has had a direct impact on its success with winning international work. Serra Ataman, account manager at ING and a native Turkish speaker, works very closely with one of the firm’s Turkish clients. “I visit Turkey a lot,” she says. “So I’m able to keep up with news that might affect the client, and understand their challenges, and their way of working, and how these might translate into English.”

Some companies, indeed, will only consider those who have a second language. Sylvia Laws, founder of specialist global PR agency Technical Publicity, says the growth of her business can be directly related to the multilingual skills of the team. Many of their clients are multinationals. She says being able to communicate with a native speaker means business is done faster and more efficiently across big and complex markets.

“Our clients are usually working for multinationals but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re brilliant in English,” says Laws, who speaks French herself. “This slows them down enormously. It’s hugely helpful if we can ring them up and talk to them in their own language and understand where they’re coming from.

“Say one of our clients has a case study of a wonderful product, for example, which is coming from Italy, and we want to do a press release. Our Italian native speaker will take the brief, and then our other language speakers can pitch it to editors in their mother tongues. That has made a huge difference. When I first started doing this, we tried pitching in English. You just cannot get the same level of reception from journalists if it’s not pitched in their language.”

Then there’s the conceptual side, says Laws: “If we’re doing a funny ad in English for a major technology company, the comedy’s lost when we’re preparing it for the German market. So you need to work out how to achieve the same objective with the same visual but by changing the headline, and that needs mother tongue speakers”.

Limited Liability Company

If you want protection for your personal assets in the event your business is sued, you might prefer a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a separate legal entity that can have one or more owners (called “members”). Usually, income is taxed to the owners individually, and earnings are subject to self-employment taxes. With the digital world is a large and diverse world of users, services, businesses and products. In order to protect our customers, our business and the reputation of our company, we have developed and implemented robust security measures in all our sites, applications and our digital platforms. We have also implemented measures to ensure the integrity of our data, we offer an extensive and quality general liability insurance services. We have implemented and continue to monitor our efforts to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber-attacks against our network and systems.

Note: It’s not unusual for lenders to require a small LLC’s owners to personally guarantee any business loans, guaranteed installment loans for bad credit direct lenders

Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity that can transact business in its own name and files corporate income tax returns. Like an LLC, a corporation can have one or more owners (shareholders). Shareholders generally are protected from personal liability but can be held responsible for repaying any business debts they’ve personally guaranteed.

If you make a “Subchapter S” election, shareholders will be taxed individually on their share of corporate income. This structure generally avoids federal income taxes at the corporate level.

Partnership

In certain respects, a partnership is similar to an LLC or an S corporation. However, partnerships must have at least one general partner who is personally liable for the partnership’s debts and obligations. Profits and losses are divided among the partners and taxed to them individually.

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Installment Sale to the Rescue

You’ve finally found a buyer for the rental property, land, or business you’ve been trying to sell but the buyer doesn’t have enough cash to pay the full purchase price in a lump sum. So you agree to an installment sale. The buyer will make a partial payment now and pay you the balance over several years, with interest. The deal’s done, now what about your taxes? You hire the accounting school in houston tx.

Pay as You Go

Because you’ll receive the payments over more than one tax year, you can defer a portion of any taxable gain realized on the sale. You’ll report only a proportionate amount of your gain each year (plus interest received) until you are paid in full. This lets you pay your taxes over time as you collect from the buyer.

Reduce Surtax Exposure

According to Gainesville Coins the installment sale also might help limit your exposure to the 3.8% surtax on net investment income. Capital gains are potentially subject to this surtax (in addition to regular capital gains tax) but only in years when your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds a threshold amount: $200,000 if you file as a single or head of household taxpayer, $250,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse, and $125,000 if you are married and file a separate return.

If your AGI is typically under the threshold, recognizing a large capital gain all in one year could put you over the top, triggering the additional 3.8% tax. By reporting your gain on the installment method, you may be able to stay under the AGI threshold and minimize your tax burden.

Take Note

The installment sale method isn’t available for sales of publicly traded securities and certain other sales. And you have the option of electing out of installment sale treatment and reporting your entire gain in the year of sale. Electing out may be advantageous under certain circumstances: for example, if you have a large capital loss that can offset your entire capital gain in the year of sale. Contact your tax advisor for information that pertains to your particular situation.

Renting Residential Real Estat – A Tax Review for the Nonprofessional Landlord

Investing in residential rental properties raises various tax issues that can be somewhat confusing, especially if you are not a real estate professional. Some of the more important issues rental property investors will want to be aware of are discussed below.

Rental Losses

Currently, the owner of a residential rental property may depreciate the building over a 27½-year period. For example, a property acquired for $200,000 could generate a depreciation deduction of as much as $7,273 per year. Additional depreciation deductions may be available for furnishings provided with the rental property. When large depreciation deductions are added to other rental expenses, it’s not uncommon for a rental activity to generate a tax loss. The question then becomes whether that loss is deductible.

$25,000 Loss Limitation

The tax law generally treats real estate rental losses as “passive” and therefore available only for offsetting any passive income an individual taxpayer may have. However, a limited exception is available where an individual holds at least a 10% ownership interest in the property and “actively participates” in the rental activity. In this situation, up to $25,000 of passive rental losses may be used to offset nonpassive income, such as wages from a job. (The $25,000 loss allowance phases out with modified adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $150,000.) Passive activity losses that are not currently deductible are carried forward to future tax years.

What constitutes active participation? The IRS describes it as “participating in making management decisions or arranging for others to provide services (such as repairs) in a significant and bona fide sense.” Examples of such management decisions provided by the IRS include approving tenants and deciding on rental terms.

Selling the Property

A gain realized on the sale of residential rental property held for investment is generally taxed as a capital gain. If the gain is long term, it is taxed at a favorable capital gains rate. However, the IRS requires that any allowable depreciation be “recaptured” and taxed at a 25% maximum rate rather than the 15% (or 20%) long-term capital gains rate that generally applies.

Exclusion of Gain

The tax law has a generous exclusion for gain from the sale of a principal residence. Generally, taxpayers may exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for certain joint filers) of their gain, provided they have owned and used the property as a principal residence for two out of the five years preceding the sale.

After the exclusion was enacted, some landlords moved into their properties and established the properties as their principal residences to make use of the home sale exclusion. However, Congress subsequently changed the rules for sales completed after 2008. Under the current rules, gain will be taxable to the extent the property was not used as the taxpayer’s principal residence after 2008.

This rule can be a trap for the unwary. For example, a couple might buy a vacation home and rent the property out to help finance the purchase. Later, upon retirement, the couple may turn the vacation home into their principal residence. If the home is subsequently sold, all or part of any gain on the sale could be taxable under the above-described rule.

Selling Inherited Property? Tax Rules That Make a Difference

Sooner or later, you may decide to sell the property you inherited from a parent or other loved one. Whether the property is an investment, an antique, land, or something else, the sale may result in a taxable gain or loss. But how that gain or loss is calculated may surprise you.

Your Basis

When you sell the property you purchased, you generally figure gain or loss by comparing the amount you receive in the sale transaction with your cost basis (as adjusted for certain items, such as depreciation). Inherited property is treated differently. Instead of cost, your basis in inherited property is generally its fair market value on the date of death (or an alternate valuation date elected by the estate’s executor, generally six months after the date of death).

These basis rules can greatly simplify matters, since old cost information can be difficult, if not impossible, to track down. Perhaps even more important, the ability to substitute a “stepped up” basis for the property’s cost can save you federal income taxes. Why? Because any increase in the property’s value that occurred before the date of death won’t be subject to capital gains tax.

For example: Assume your Uncle Harold left you stock he bought in 1986 for $5,000. At the time of his death, the shares were worth $45,000, and you recently sold them for $48,000. Your basis for purposes of calculating your capital gain is stepped up to $45,000. Because of the step-up, your capital gain on the sale is just $3,000 ($48,000 sale proceeds less $45,000 basis). The $40,000 increase in the value of the shares during your Uncle Harold’s lifetime is not subject to capital gains tax.

What happens if a property’s value on the date of death is less than its original purchase price? Instead of a step-up in basis, the basis must be lowered to the date-of-death value.

Holding Period

Capital gains resulting from the disposition of inherited property automatically qualify for long-term capital gain treatment, regardless of how long you or the decedent owned the property. This presents a potential income tax advantage since the long-term capital gain is taxed at a lower rate than short-term capital gain.

Be cautious if you inherited property from someone who died in 2010 since, depending on the situation, different tax basis rules might apply.

Deductions for Long-Term Care Insurance

Many people are taking a closer look at buying long-term care insurance to protect themselves and their families — just in case. If you are thinking about buying long-term care insurance, you’ll be interested to know that, within limits, premiums paid for qualified policies are deductible as an itemized medical expense. For 2019, premiums for qualified policies are tax-deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses, exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.

The typical long-term care insurance policy will pay for the nursing home, home care, or other long-term care arrangements after a waiting period has expired, reimbursing expenses up to a maximum limit specified in the policy. Eligibility for reimbursement usually hinges on the covered individual’s inability to perform several activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.

Premiums are eligible for a deduction only up to a specific dollar amount (adjusted for inflation) that varies depending upon the age of the covered individual. The IRS limits for 2019 are:

Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Deduction Limits, 2019
Age Premium Limit
40 or under $420
41-50 $790
51-60 $1,580
61-70 $4,220
Over 70 $5,270

Source: Internal Revenue Service

These limits apply on a per-person basis. For example, a married couple over age 70 filing a joint tax return could potentially deduct up to $10,540 ($5,270 × 2). Keep in mind, however, that, for individuals under age 65, itemized medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they, in total, exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI).

As everyone’s situation is different, consider contacting your tax and legal professionals to discuss your personal circumstances.

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Why a Net Unrealized Appreciation Strategy is Important

Individuals who plan to take distributions of appreciated employer stock from their tax-qualified retirement plan accounts may receive favorable tax treatment by using a “net unrealized appreciation” (NUA) strategy.

This strategy involves taking a “qualifying” lump-sum distribution of employer stock from a qualified plan upon separation from service or another “triggering event” (such as reaching age 59½) and paying ordinary income taxes on only the plan’s cost basis in the stock. NUA is the difference between the shares’ cost basis and their market value at the time of distribution.

When the stock is eventually sold, taxes will be due on the appreciation at distribution at long-term capital gains rates (currently a maximum of 20% for those in the top regular tax bracket) regardless of how long the employer securities may have been held in the plan. Any further appreciation is taxed at either the short-term or long-term capital gains rate, depending on the holding period.

If your plan assets consist primarily of employer stock, consider using the NUA strategy for part of the distribution and rolling over the remaining shares to an IRA. You could then sell the shares in the IRA and buy a more diversified mix of investments.

A Few Considerations

Could you benefit from the NUA strategy? While it can reduce the taxes you pay, it’s not appropriate for everyone. Think about these factors as you make your decision.

 

Time frame. This strategy provides the most benefit when stock won’t be sold for several years.

Taxes. The NUA strategy may be less beneficial if tax rates change or your tax rate declines in retirement.

Diversification. No matter which strategies you employ, it’s important to maintain an adequately diversified portfolio.

To learn more about tax rules and regulations for investments, give us a call today. Our knowledgeable and trained staff is here to help.

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Why Your Cost Basis is Important to You

When you sell securities in a taxable investment account, you have to know your “basis” in the securities to determine whether you have a gain or a loss on the sale — and the amount. Generally, your basis is the price you paid for your shares of stock or a mutual fund, adjusted for any reinvested dividends or capital gain distributions, as well as for any costs of the purchase.

Although the cost basis calculation sounds straightforward enough, there’s more to the story.

Inherited and Gifted Securities

Though basis is usually derived from cost, inheritances are treated differently. Generally, the basis of inherited securities is reset at their date-of-death value.

With gifted securities, the person receiving the securities generally takes the basis of the person who gave them. However, if gift tax was paid, a basis adjustment may be necessary. And, if the securities’ fair market value on the date of the gift is less than their original cost, you use that lower value to determine any loss on a subsequent sale.

Stock Dividends and Splits

Instead of distributing cash dividends, companies sometimes distribute stock dividends. Stock dividends are generally not taxable. However, a basis adjustment needs to be made, in the website http://fullyaccountable.com/ you will find the most prepared professionals to manage each step. If the new stock you receive is identical to the old stock — for example, you receive two new shares of XYZ common stock for each share of XYZ common stock you own — you simply divide the basis of your old stock by the total number of shares held after the distribution to arrive at your new basis for each share.

Stock splits also result in basis adjustments. For example, if a company has a “two-for-one split” of its stock, the original basis must be divided between the two new shares. Conversely, companies sometimes have “reverse splits,” such as when three shares are exchanged for one, in which case the basis in the original three shares is now the basis of the new share.

Keeping track of share basis through a series of mergers, spinoffs, etc., can be very complicated. Often, taxpayers must research the terms of the relevant transactions by contacting the company directly or logging on to the company’s website.

Selling Less Than Your Entire Holding

If you sell less than your entire holding in a particular stock and can adequately identify the shares you sold (“specific identification”), you may use their basis to determine your gain or loss. Adequate identification involves delivering the stock certificates to your broker or, if your broker holds the stock, telling your broker the particular stock to be sold and getting a written confirmation. If you can’t adequately identify the shares you sell, you may use the FIFO –“first in, first out” — method to determine your basis.

With mutual funds, you are also allowed to elect to use the “average basis” method of accounting for shares sold. With this method, the total cost of all the shares owned is divided by the total number of shares owned.

Tax-deferred and Tax-exempt Investments

Cost basis is generally not an issue with securities held in tax-deferred investment accounts, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee retirement accounts. With these accounts, you are not taxed on capital gains but will be taxed at ordinary income-tax rates on distributions you receive. (Qualified Roth distributions are an exception.) Also note that though interest on municipal bonds may be tax exempt, any gain realized from selling such bonds is taxable, so it’s important to keep the information you’ll need to determine your basis.

Connect with our team today for all the latest and most current tax rules and regulations.

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