10 Ways to Keep an EYE on Your Company’s #Cash

eye-on-cashDo you regularly monitor your company’s cash accounts? Being aware of where your cash is going can help prevent theft or improper expenditures, which are among the chief sources of loss for small companies.
What can you do to reduce the risk of losses? The textbook answer is to implement “internal controls.” Internal controls are standard procedures for assuring the integrity of your financial processes. For example, segregation of duties, such as having more than one person involved in preparing, signing, and reconciling checks, is an internal control.

Here are suggestions for safeguarding your company’s cash.
● Make sure all invoices have an approval signature before being paid.
● Personally verify that new vendors exist.
● Require sign-off of employee expense reports by a higher-level employee.
● Don’t permit the person who prepares a company check to sign that check.
● Consider requiring two signatures on checks.
● Maintain a list of void checks and compare them to your bank statement.
● Use a bank stamp to endorse checks immediately upon receipt.
● Personally open bank statements and other mailings from the bank.
● Review and reconcile your bank statement regularly.
● Monitor online access to your business account.

Please contact our office for details or for assistance in improving controls over your company’s cash.

#TaxTipTuesday-#Self-employed? Here’s how to meet your employment tax obligations and perhaps even save tax.

In addition to income tax, you must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on earned income, such as salary and self-employment income. The 12.4% Social Security tax applies only up to the Social Security wage base of $118,500 for 2016. All earned income is subject to the 2.9% Medicare tax.

The taxes are split equally between the employee and the employer. But if you’re self-employed, you pay both the employee and employer portions of these taxes on your self-employment income.

Additional 0.9% Medicare tax

Another employment tax that higher-income taxpayers must be aware of is the additional 0.9% Medicare tax. It applies to FICA wages and net self-employment income exceeding $200,000 per year ($250,000 for married filing jointly and $125,000 for married filing separately).

If your wages or self-employment income varies significantly from year to year or you’re close to the threshold for triggering the additional Medicare tax, income timing strategies may help you avoid or minimize it. For example, as a self-employed taxpayer, you may have flexibility on when you purchase new equipment or invoice customers. If your self-employment income is from a part-time activity and you’re also an employee elsewhere, perhaps you can time with your employer when you receive a bonus.

Something else to consider in this situation is the withholding rules. Employers must withhold the additional Medicare tax beginning in the pay period when wages exceed $200,000 for the calendar year — without regard to an employee’s filing status or income from other sources. So your employer might not withhold the tax even though you are liable for it due to your self-employment income.

If you do owe the tax but your employer isn’t withholding it, consider filing a W-4 form to request additional income tax withholding, which can be used to cover the shortfall and avoid interest and penalties. Or you can make estimated tax payments.

Deductions for the self-employed

For the self-employed, the employer portion of employment taxes (6.2% for Social Security tax and 1.45% for Medicare tax) is deductible above the line. (No portion of the additional Medicare tax is deductible, because there’s no employer portion of that tax.)

As a self-employed taxpayer, you may benefit from other above-the-line deductions as well. You can deduct 100% of health insurance costs for yourself, your spouse and your dependents, up to your net self-employment income. You also can deduct contributions to a retirement plan and, if you’re eligible, an HSA for yourself. Above-the-line deductions are particularly valuable because they reduce your adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified AGI (MAGI), which are the triggers for certain additional taxes and the phaseouts of many tax breaks.

For more information on the ins and outs of employment taxes and tax breaks for the self-employed, please contact us.

Don’t Get Stuck With Underpayemt Penalty

Don’t let penalties for underpaid taxes increase your tax bill next April. Check the totastuckl you’ve paid in 2016 through withholding and/or estimated taxes. If you’ve underpaid, consider adjusting your withholding for the final months of the year or increasing your remaining quarterly estimate. If you employ household workers, be sure your calculations include the payroll taxes you’ll owe for them. Remember to include the 3.8% tax on net investment income in your planning too.

The timing of your business’s income and deductible expenses can have a big impact on your tax liability. Here’s how to determine the right timing strategies for you this year.



Typically, it’s better to defer tax. One way is through controlling when your business recognizes income and incurs deductible expenses. Here are two timing strategies that can help businesses do this:


  1. Defer income to next year. If your business uses the cash method of accounting, you can defer billing for your products or services. Or, if you use the accrual method, you can delay shipping products or delivering services.
  2. Accelerate deductible expenses into the current year. If you’re a cash-basis taxpayer, you may make a state estimated tax payment before Dec. 31, so you can deduct it this year rather than next. Both cash- and accrual-basis taxpayers can charge expenses on a credit card and deduct them in the year charged, regardless of when the credit card bill is paid.

But if you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket next year (or you expect tax rates to go up), consider taking the opposite approach instead — accelerating income and deferring deductible expenses. This will increase your tax bill this year but can save you tax over the two-year period.

These are only some of the nuances to consider. Please contact us to discuss what timing strategies will work to your tax advantage, based on your specific situation.

Do you own your own business? Here are two factors to consider when determining how much to pay yourself

think-about-1184858_960_720As the owner of your business, you are the decider of salaries for your staff. That’s true for your own salary too. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining how much to pay yourself, here are two factors to consider.

● Profitability. Regularly review and update your firm’s cash flow projections to determine the salary level you can sustain while keeping the business profitable. Your compensation may be minimal as you start up your business. However, beware of going too long without paying yourself a salary, and be sure to document that you’re in business to make a profit. Why? Otherwise the IRS may view your perpetually unprofitable business as a hobby – a sham enterprise aimed at avoiding taxes. That can lead to unfavorable tax consequences.

● The market. If you were working for someone else, what would they pay for your skills and knowledge? When you’ve answered that question, discuss salary levels with small business groups and colleagues in your geographic area and industry. Check out the Department of Labor and Small Business Administration websites for salary information and national compensation surveys. In the early stages of your business, you may not be able to afford to pay yourself a salary commensurate with the higher ranges, but you’ll learn what’s reasonable.

For assistance with payroll issues or salary concerns, contact our office.









3 signs that a charity isn’t on the up-and-up

Times of crisis, when others are suffering and you want to help most, is also when heartless fraudsters tend to strike. If you’re planning a donation, watch for these signs that a charity isn’t on the up-and-up.

The fly-by-night charity. Every legitimate charitable association had a start date, and some are still being formed. But during a major crisis, such as a natural disaster, donate to charities that you trust, which means those with a proven track record. If you’re unsure, check out a charity watchdog group for details.

The evasive caller. If you get a phone call from a charity, don’t be afraid to ask direct questions and expect direct answers. A legitimate caller will be upfront about the charity, the percentage of funds allocated to administration and marketing, and what target groups will be helped by your donation. Beware of vague claims such as “educating the public” or “promoting awareness.”

The urgent online request. Social media postings, fake websites, and emails brimming with desperate pleas for money may originate from the backroom computer of a scam artist. Never divulge your financial information via email and don’t assume that social media messages about a particular charity are legitimate.

You want your donations to provide help where it is most needed, not line a fraudster’s pocket. Take time to make sure the charity you’re donating to is legitimate. If we can help, let us know.donation-517132_960_720

How to calculate the amount of your loss and ease financial burdens when violent weather wreaks havoc.


Violent weather can wreak emotional and financial havoc. If your home, vehicle, or other personal property is damaged or destroyed by a sudden, unexpected casualty, an itemized tax deduction may help ease the financial burden.

In most cases, you claim a casualty loss in the taxable year the calamity strikes. However, if you’re in a federally declared disaster area, you have the option of amending your prior year return. Either way, to receive the maximum benefit you’ll need to calculate the amount of your loss. Here’s how.

File an insurance claim. If your property is insured, file a timely claim.

Get an appraisal. An appraisal determines the decline in fair market value caused by the casualty. Tax rules require that you measure the difference between what your home or property would have sold for before the damage and the probable sales price afterward.

Establish basis. Generally, adjusted basis is what you originally paid for the damaged property, plus improvements. If your records were lost in the casualty, recreate them using reasonable estimates or the best information you have.

Keep receipts for repairs. In some situations, repairs you make to restore your property to pre-casualty condition can be used as an indicator of the decline in the fair market value.

Remember, you’re not alone. In the aftermath of a casualty, we’re here to help you resolve the tax issues.

FSA or HSA? Choosing between health accounts



Are you confused about your choices for paying medical expenses under your employer’s benefit plan? Here are differences between two types of commonly offered accounts: a health savings account (HSA) and a health care flexible spending account (FSA).

Overview. An FSA is generally established under an employer’s benefit plan. You can set aside a portion of your salary on a pretax basis to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses. An HSA is a combination of a high-deductible health plan and a savings account in which you save pretax dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by the insurance.

Contributions. For 2016, you can contribute up to a maximum of $2,550 to an FSA. Typically, you have to use the funds by the end of the year. Why? Unused amounts are forfeited under what’s commonly called the “use it or lose it” rule. However, your employer can adopt one of two exceptions to the rule.
If you are single, the 2016 HSA contribution limit is $3,350 ($6,750 for a family). You can add a catch-up contribution of $1,000 if you are over age 55. You do not have to spend all the money you contribute to your HSA each year. You can leave the funds in the account and let the earnings grow.

Earnings. FSAs do not earn interest. Your employer holds your money until you request reimbursement for qualified expenses. HSAs are savings accounts, and the money in the account can be invested. Earnings held in the account are not included in your income.

Withdrawals. Distributions from both accounts are tax- and penalty-free as long as you use the funds for qualified medical expenses.

Portability. Normally, your FSA stays with your employer when you change jobs. Your HSA belongs to you, and you can take the account funds with you from job to job. That’s true even if your employer makes contributions to your HSA for you.

Because you generally can’t contribute to both accounts in the same year, understanding the differences can help you make a decision that best fits your circumstances. Contact us for help as you consider your benefit choices.




#Documentation is the key to #business #expense #deductions


If you have incomplete or missing records and get audited by the IRS, your business will likely lose out on valuable deductions. Here are two recent U.S. Tax Court cases that help illustrate the rules for documenting deductions.

Case 1: Insufficient records
In the first case, the court found that a taxpayer with a consulting business provided no proof to substantiate more than $52,000 in advertising expenses and $12,000 in travel expenses for the two years in question.

The business owner said the travel expenses were incurred ”caring for his business.“ That isn’t enough. ”The taxpayer bears the burden of proving that claimed business expenses were actually incurred and were ordinary and necessary,“ the court stated. In addition, businesses must keep and produce ”records sufficient to enable the IRS to determine the correct tax liability.” (TC Memo 2016-158)

Case 2: Documents destroyed
In another case, a taxpayer was denied many of the deductions claimed for his company. He traveled frequently for the business, which developed machine parts. In addition to travel, meals and entertainment, he also claimed printing and consulting deductions.

The taxpayer recorded expenses in a spiral notebook and day planner and kept his records in a leased storage unit. While on a business trip to China, his documents were destroyed after the city where the storage unit was located acquired it by eminent domain.

There’s a way for taxpayers to claim expenses if substantiating documents are lost through circumstances beyond their control (for example, in a fire or flood). However, the court noted that a taxpayer still has to ”undertake a ‘reasonable reconstruction,’ which includes substantiation through secondary evidence.”

The court allowed 40% of the taxpayer’s travel, meals and entertainment expenses, but denied the remainder as well as the consulting and printing expenses. The reason? The taxpayer didn’t reconstruct those expenses through third-party sources or testimony from individuals whom he’d paid. (TC Memo 2016-135)

Be prepared
Keep detailed, accurate records to protect your business deductions. Record details about expenses as soon as possible after they’re incurred (for example, the date, place, business purpose, etc.). Keep more than just proof of payment. Also keep other documents, such as receipts, credit card slips and invoices. If you’re unsure of what you need, check with us.