Our Blog

Keep a close eye on your employment records

March 22, 2019

Every employer needs to keep records on pay, hours, workplace injuries and the like. And, of course, the fun doesn’t end there — you’ve also got to maintain other documentation, such as job descriptions, annual objectives and performance reviews.

In totality, these documents make up your employment records. To prevent any number of disastrous circumstances, from...

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An implementation plan is key to making strategic goals a reality

March 22, 2019

In the broadest sense, strategic planning comprises two primary tasks: establishing goals and achieving them. Many business owners would probably say the first part, coming up with objectives, is relatively easy. It’s that second part — accomplishing those goals — that can really challenge a company. The key to turning your strategic objectives into a reality is a solid...

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Preventing phoenix companies from taking flight with your money

March 1, 2019

Bankruptcy (or liquidation) can be a valid business tool when used properly. Unfortunately, it can also enable less-than-honest business owners to profit at the expense of their creditors. Such is often the case with “phoenix” companies.

Rising from the ashes

Phoenix companies earn their name because they rise from the ashes of failed companies, trading on the...

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Some of your deductions may be smaller (or nonexistent) when you file your 2018 tax return

March 1, 2019

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduces most income tax rates and expands some tax breaks, it limits or eliminates several itemized deductions that have been valuable to many individual taxpayers. Here are five deductions you may see shrink or disappear when you file your 2018 income tax return:

1. State and local tax deduction. For 2018 through 2025, your total itemized...

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Keep fraud off your restaurant’s menu

February 25, 2019

In the restaurant industry, where long hours and thin profit margins are the norm, owners and managers often lack the time and resources to focus on fraud. Unfortunately, restaurants can provide crooked employees, customers and vendors with plenty of opportunities to steal. So you need to be able to recognize fraud threats — and nip them in the bud before they lead to heavy financial...

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The home office deduction: Actual expenses vs. the simplified method

February 25, 2019

If you run your business from your home or perform certain functions at home that are related to your business, you might be able to claim a home office deduction against your business income on your 2018 income tax return. Thanks to a tax law change back in 2013, there are now two methods for claiming this deduction: the actual expenses method and the simplified method.

Basics of the...

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Why you shouldn’t wait to file your 2018 income tax return

February 11, 2019

The IRS opened the 2018 income tax return filing season on January 28. Even if you typically don’t file until much closer to the April 15 deadline, this year consider filing as soon as you can. Why? You can potentially protect yourself from tax identity theft — and reap other benefits, too.

What is tax identity theft?

In a tax identity theft scheme, a thief uses...

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DOL increases penalties for many labor law violations

February 11, 2019

Every employer knows that failing to comply with federal laws is costly, but it’s getting even more so. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 directs federal agencies to adjust civil penalties for inflation each year. As a result, the Department of Labor recently issued a final rule that revises civil penalties for many violations of federal labor...

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Financial statements tell your business’s story, inside and out

February 11, 2019

Ask many entrepreneurs and small business owners to show you their financial statements and they’ll likely open a laptop and show you their bookkeeping software. Although tracking financial transactions is critical, spreadsheets aren’t financial statements.

In short, financial statements are detailed and carefully organized reports about the financial activities and...

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What does “at-will employment” really mean anyway?

February 5, 2019

Many, if not most, employers today use some form of an “at-will” employment contract when hiring. The arrangement is theoretically simple: The employer can terminate the employee at any time, for any cause — with or without notice. But is that what at-will employment really means? Not necessarily.

Common exceptions

For every rule, there are exceptions. Those...

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Depreciation-related breaks on business real estate: What you need to know when you file your 2018 return

February 5, 2019

Commercial buildings and improvements generally are depreciated over 39 years, which essentially means you can deduct a portion of the cost every year over the depreciation period. (Land isn’t depreciable.) But special tax breaks that allow deductions to be taken more quickly are available for certain real estate investments.

Some of these were enhanced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs...

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There’s still time to get substantiation for 2018 donations

January 31, 2019

If you’re like many Americans, letters from your favorite charities have been appearing in your mailbox in recent weeks acknowledging your 2018 year-end donations. But what happens if you haven’t received such a letter — can you still claim an itemized deduction for the gift on your 2018 income tax return? It depends.

Basic requirements

To support a...

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Stop receivables fraud before it starts

January 21, 2019

From invoices and payments to discounts and write-offs, many business transactions are recorded to accounts receivable. This makes receivables a popular fraud target. But your business doesn’t have to become a victim.

Common schemes

Receivables fraud occurs when dishonest employees divert customer payments for their personal use. They use various methods,...

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Sudden impact: When a spouse unexpectedly dies

January 21, 2019

What if the unthinkable happens and your spouse dies unexpectedly? Would you be prepared to cope emotionally and financially? As the surviving spouse, you’ll face several tasks and challenges.

First steps first

By no means complete, the following are areas that will need to be addressed:

Death certificates. One of the first things to do is obtain death...

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Protect retirement plan fiduciaries through training, insurance

January 21, 2019

When an employer decides to sponsor a retirement plan for employees, it takes on great responsibility. Anyone who exercises discretionary authority over any vital facet of plan operations likely will be considered a plan fiduciary. In turn, these individuals face a significant risk of liability if anything goes seriously wrong with the plan.

Your plan document should identify the...

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Fraudulent transfer laws could sabotage your estate plan

January 4, 2019

Estate planning aims to help individuals achieve several important goals — primary among them, transferring wealth to loved ones at the lowest possible tax cost. However, if you have creditors, you need to be aware of how fraudulent transfer laws can affect your estate plan. Creditors could potentially challenge your gifts, trusts or other estate planning strategies as fraudulent...

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Economic damages: Recovering what was lost

January 4, 2019

A business can suffer economic damages arising from a variety of illegal conduct. Common examples include breach of contract, patent infringement and commercial negligence. If your company finds itself headed to court looking to recover lost profits, diminished business value or both, it’s important to know how the damages might be determined.

What methods are commonly...

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How gift card scammers target companies — and what you can do

December 21, 2018

Gift cards offer businesses a convenient way to reward employees and thank customers. However, as the FBI recently warned, gift card scams specifically targeting companies are on the rise. Since January 2017, losses from such fraud schemes have surpassed $1 million. Here’s what you need to know to avoid being cheated.

Anatomy of a scam

Fraudsters use classic...

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Why hotel owners should keep an eye on their management companies

December 21, 2018

It’s common for hotel owners to outsource the management of their properties. Unfortunately, hotel management companies sometimes fraudulently profit at the owners’ expense.

Case studies

Fraudulent mismanagement can take several forms. In one instance, a real estate property developer hired an international hotel management company to run his new hotel in Miami....

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Check deductibility before making year-end charitable gifts

December 14, 2018

As the holidays approach and the year draws to a close, many taxpayers make charitable gifts — both in the spirit of the season and as a year-end tax planning strategy. But with the tax law changes that go into effect in 2018 and the many rules that apply to the charitable deduction, it’s a good idea to check deductibility before making any year-end donations.

Confirm you...

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A prenup or a DAPT: Which is the better choice?

December 14, 2018


If you or one of your adult children is getting married, you may be concerned about protecting your family’s assets in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can be an effective tool for overriding marital property rights and keeping assets in the family. But these agreements have disadvantages. For many families, a better alternative is a domestic asset protection trust...

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Does prepaying property taxes make sense anymore?

November 30, 2018

Prepaying property taxes related to the current year but due the following year has long been one of the most popular and effective year-end tax-planning strategies. But does it still make sense in 2018?

The answer, for some people, is yes — accelerating this expense will increase their itemized deductions, reducing their tax bills. But for many, particularly those in high-tax...

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Steering clear of abusive tax shelters

November 30, 2018

 

As the year comes to a close, many businesses look for ways to save on taxes. Purveyors of abusive tax shelters know this and are ready to take advantage of unwitting owners.

Abusive tax shelters are complex transactions that have no legitimate business purpose and are used solely to reduce or eliminate tax liability. However tempting the tax savings may seem, you...

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When holiday gifts and parties are deductible or taxable

November 30, 2018


The holiday season is a great time for businesses to show their appreciation for employees and customers by giving them gifts or hosting holiday parties. Before you begin shopping or sending out invitations, though, it’s a good idea to find out whether the expense is tax deductible and whether it’s taxable to the recipient. Here’s a brief review of the...

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How nonprofits can prevent fraud during the busy holiday season

November 21, 2018

 

Charities typically receive most of their donations during the holidays and at year end. It’s critical for these organizations to be on the lookout for fraud throughout the year, but even more so during the busy season. Here are some fraud schemes nonprofits should watch out for and how they can use internal controls to protect against financial losses.

Culture of...

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Estimates vs. actuals: Was your 2018 budget reasonable?

November 21, 2018

 

As the year winds down, business owners can be thankful for the gift of perspective (among other things, we hope). Assuming you created a budget for the calendar year, you should now be able to accurately assess that budget by comparing its estimates to actual results. Your objective is to determine whether your budget was reasonable, and, if not, how to adjust it to be more...

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3 ways to get more from your marketing dollars

November 16, 2018

A strong economy leads some company owners to cut back on marketing. Why spend the money if business is so good? Others see it differently — a robust economy means more sales opportunities, so pouring dollars into marketing is the way to go.

The right approach for your company depends on many factors, but one thing is for sure: Few businesses can afford to cut back drastically...

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Mutual funds: Handle with care at year end

November 16, 2018

As we approach the end of 2018, it’s a good idea to review the mutual fund holdings in your taxable accounts and take steps to avoid potential tax traps. Here are some tips.

Avoid surprise capital gains

Unlike with stocks, you can’t avoid capital gains on mutual funds simply by holding on to the shares. Near the end of the year, funds typically distribute all or...

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Research credit available to some businesses for the first time

November 2, 2018

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) didn’t change the federal tax credit for “increasing research activities,” but several TCJA provisions have an indirect impact on the credit. As a result, the research credit may be available to some businesses for the first time.

AMT reform

Previously, corporations subject to alternative minimum tax (AMT)...

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Starting slow with a SIMPLE IRA

November 2, 2018

 

For certain employers, particularly small businesses, introducing a retirement plan for employees may seem like a daunting task. The company owner may feel that providing a full-blown 401(k) plan is his or her only choice, but that’s far from true.

There are other options to consider that are relatively easier to administer and usually less costly to set up and...

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Change management doesn’t have to be scary

November 2, 2018

 

Business owners are constantly bombarded with terminology and buzzwords. Although you probably feel a need to keep up with the latest trends, you also may find that many of these ideas induce more anxiety than relief. One example is change management.

This term is used to describe the philosophies and processes an organization uses to manage change. Putting change...

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Could “bunching” medical expenses into 2018 save you tax?

October 26, 2018

 

Some of your medical expenses may be tax deductible, but only if you itemize deductions and have enough expenses to exceed the applicable floor for deductibility. With proper planning, you may be able to time controllable medical expenses to your tax advantage. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) could make bunching such expenses into 2018 beneficial for some taxpayers. At the...

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Striking a balance between fraud prevention and employee privacy

October 26, 2018

The expense of preventing fraud is minimal compared to the cost of cleaning up after fraud has been committed. One common fraud deterrent is to monitor employees on the job. But are you legally entitled to monitor employees? The answer is “sometimes.” One thing is certain: You must follow current employment law to the letter.

Two competing interests

Many laws apply...

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Get serious with an educational assistance program

October 19, 2018

 

Most employers probably know that reimbursements and direct payments of job-related education costs are excludable from workers’ wages as a working condition fringe benefit. Maybe you’ve offered such a benefit in the past and it’s worked out well for everyone.

But if you’re ready to really get serious about promoting the professional development...

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Tax-free fringe benefits help small businesses and their employees

October 12, 2018

In today’s tightening job market, to attract and retain the best employees, small businesses need to offer not only competitive pay, but also appealing fringe benefits. Benefits that are tax-free are especially attractive to employees. Let’s take a quick look at some popular options.

Insurance

Businesses can provide their employees with various types of insurance...

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Protect computers from employee theft

October 12, 2018

 

To head off employee theft, businesses need to know what crooked employees are most likely to steal. The number one preference is cash. But if that’s off limits, the next choice is something expensive that they can use outside work. And, of course, the most costly and useful items in most offices are laptop and desktop computers and other technological...

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Knowledge management can help mitigate the ill effects of turnover

October 5, 2018

With all the emphasis on big data these days, employers shouldn’t lose sight of what could be called “big knowledge.” That is, within the brain of every good, experienced employee lies a wealth of know-how and insights that could vanish in an instant if that person walks out the door for good.

The formal process of identifying, recording and managing an...

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Could a cost segregation study help you accelerate depreciation deductions?

October 5, 2018

Businesses that acquire, construct or substantially improve a building — or did so in previous years — should consider a cost segregation study. It may allow you to accelerate depreciation deductions, thus reducing taxes and boosting cash flow. And the potential benefits are now even greater due to enhancements to certain depreciation-related breaks under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act...

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4 tips for creating an apprenticeship program

September 28, 2018

A shortage of skilled workers is a real concern in some of the nation’s largest industries. If you fear your business could find itself struggling to fill positions, one way to lay the groundwork for a solution is to create an apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeships are paid positions that focus on gradual, step-by-step training aimed at creating fully realized, often certified...

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Retiring abroad? Review your estate plan before making the move

September 28, 2018

If you dream of spending your golden years in a tropical paradise, a culture-rich European city or another foreign locale, it’s important to understand the potential tax and estate planning implications. If you don’t, you could be hit with some unpleasant surprises.

Avoiding the pitfalls

If you’re a citizen of the United States, U.S. taxes will apply even...

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Dig out your business plan to plan for the year ahead

September 28, 2018

Like many business owners, you probably created a business plan when you launched your company. But, as is also often the case, you may not have looked at it much since then. Now that fall has arrived and year end is coming soon, why not dig it out? Reviewing and revising a business plan can be a great way to plan for the year ahead.

6 sections to scrutinize

Comprehensive...

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Train employees to help stamp out fraud

September 21, 2018

If your company is tired of being a fraud target, it’s time to train employees how to recognize and uncover unscrupulous activities — before irreparable damage is done. Here’s how.

Enlist an expert

A forensic accountant can conduct on-site, broad-based training for employees in the form of live presentations. This expert might use role-playing to help staff...

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Keeping a king in the castle with a well-maintained cash reserve

September 21, 2018

You’ve no doubt heard the old business cliché “cash is king.” And it’s true: A company in a strong cash position stands a much better chance of obtaining the financing it needs, attracting outside investors or simply executing its own strategic plans.

One way to ensure that there’s always a king in the castle, so to speak, is to maintain a cash...

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Have you made your burial wishes clear?

September 14, 2018

It may be difficult to consider, but funeral arrangements are a critical component of your estate plan. Failure to clearly communicate your wishes regarding the disposition of your remains can lead to tension, disputes and even litigation among your family members during what is already a difficult time.

Address these issues

The methods for expressing these wishes vary from...

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Consider the tax advantages of investing in qualified small business stock

September 14, 2018

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced most ordinary-income tax rates for individuals, it didn’t change long-term capital gains rates. They remain at 0%, 15% and 20%.

The 0% rate generally applies to taxpayers in the bottom two ordinary-income tax brackets (now 10% and 12%), but you no longer have to be in the top ordinary-income tax bracket (now 37%) to be subject to...

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Even voicemail is susceptible to fraud

September 7, 2018

In a world of increasing exposure to online security threats, it’s nice to be able to rely on voicemail for risk-free communication. The problem is, you can’t. Your voicemail system can easily be hacked if you don’t take some precautions.

Passwords as passports

In the most common scheme, hackers figure out the passwords for voicemail boxes. Most frequently,...

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Contemplating compensation increases and pay for performance

September 7, 2018

As a business grows, one of many challenges it faces is identifying a competitive yet manageable compensation structure. After all, offer too little and you likely won’t have much success in hiring. Offer too much and you may compromise cash flow and profitability.

But the challenge doesn’t end there. Once you have a feasible compensation structure in place, your...

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Play your tax cards right with gambling wins and losses

August 31, 2018

If you gamble, be sure you understand the tax consequences. Both wins and losses can affect your income tax bill. And changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) could also have an impact.

Wins and taxable income

You must report 100% of your gambling winnings as taxable income. The value of complimentary goodies (“comps”) provided by gambling establishments must...

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Expense Reimbursement Fraud is Common, but Preventable

August 31, 2018

One of the most common ways that crooked employees defraud their employers is by cheating on or padding expense reimbursement reports. Fortunately, you can stop this type of fraud with strict controls and by punishing the perpetrators.

Plenty of ways to cheat

Employees often cheat on their reimbursement reports by inventing expenses. They might, for example, stick your company...

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How up-to-date job descriptions can help every organization

August 29, 2018


Words have power. Do you believe in this expression? If so, it follows that up-to-date, accurate job descriptions form the foundation of every organization’s staffing efforts. Without clear, focused documentation of what each position does, you may struggle to hire and retain good employees. And you could be drastically undermining productivity.

Look at...

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3 Ways to Supercharge your Supervisors

August 29, 2018

 

The attitudes and behaviors of your people managers play a critical role in your company’s success. When your managers are putting forth their best effort, the more likely it is that you’ll, in turn, get the best performances out of the rest of your employees. Here are three ways to supercharge your supervisors:

1. Transform them into teachers. Today’s...

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Do You Know Your Customer?

August 13, 2018

To help fight crime, including terrorism, money laundering and identity theft, federal laws and regulations require banks and other organizations to “know” their customers. Know-your-customer (KYC) programs entail verifying customer identities and assessing risks associated with them. But even if your company isn’t required to adopt such programs, KYC can be beneficial.

What’s involved?

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6 Ways to Run a Better Meeting

August 13, 2018

 

There are few more self-destructive acts for an employer than to waste its employees’ time. You not only squander productivity but also hurt morale. Among the most common culprits of wasted time are bad meetings. A sloppily managed one can leave employees grumbling and frustrated for hours, even days, afterward. Here are six ways to run a better meeting:

1. Start...

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Do your employees a favor and remind them about their W-4s

July 4, 2018

Employees don’t always fill out their W-4 forms accurately. For example, some may wrongly write “exempt” on the withholding portion of the form to ensure that no federal or state tax is withheld. Others may be inadvertently underwithholding because of recent tax law changes.

Although the employees themselves are liable for improperly completing their W-4s, you can do...

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Customer Service

June 27, 2018

When business people speak of innovation, the focus is usually on a pioneering product or state-of-the-art service that will “revolutionize the industry.” But innovation can apply to any aspect of your company — including customer service.

Many business owners perceive customer service as a fairly cut-and-dried affair. Customers call, you answer their questions or...

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New tax law gives pass-through businesses a valuable deduction

January 9, 2018

Although the drop of the corporate tax rate from a top rate of 35% to a flat rate of 21% may be one of the most talked about provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), C corporations aren’t the only type of entity significantly benefiting from the new law. Owners of noncorporate “pass-through” entities may see some major — albeit temporary — relief in the...

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The TCJA temporarily expands bonus depreciation

January 9, 2018


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enhances some tax breaks for businesses while reducing or eliminating others. One break it enhances — temporarily — is bonus depreciation. While most TCJA provisions go into effect for the 2018 tax year, you might be able to benefit from the bonus depreciation enhancements when you file your 2017 tax return.

Pre-TCJA bonus...

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Detect fraud with employee data monitoring tools

January 9, 2018

If one of your employees committed embezzlement, how long would it take your company to discover the loss? According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the average business doesn’t ferret out occupational fraud schemes for 18 months.

Fortunately, there are ways to find fraud earlier. When companies implement proactive data monitoring and analysis, they typically...

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ABCs of HSAs: How an HSA can benefit your estate plan

January 9, 2018

One health care arrangement that has been soaring in popularity in recent years has been the pairing of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The good news is that not only does an HSA provide a tax-advantaged way to pay for health care costs, but it also can help you achieve your estate planning goals.

How does it work?

An HSA can be...

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Promoting from within can be a recipe for management success

January 9, 2018

Effective leadership is critical to any organization. When trying to fill leadership roles — that is, management positions — you likely look for candidates with experience in your industry or sector. Ideally, of course, you’d probably love to find someone who knows the ins and outs of your specific organization.

The good news is that this individual may be sitting...

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Making The Right Choice About Your Office Space

January 9, 2018

 

For many companies, there comes a time when owners must decide whether to renew a lease, move on to a different one or buy new (or pre-existing) space. In some cases, it’s a relatively easy decision. Maybe you’re happy where you are and feel like such a part of the local community that moving isn’t an option.

But, in other cases, a move can be an...

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Why you may want to accelerate your property tax payment into 2017

December 20, 2017

Accelerating deductible expenses, such as property tax on your home, into the current year typically is a good idea. Why? It will defer tax, which usually is beneficial. Prepaying property tax may be especially beneficial this year, because proposed tax legislation might reduce or eliminate the benefit of the property tax deduction beginning in 2018.

Proposed...

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Who should be the guardian of your minor children?

December 20, 2017

If you have minor children, arguably the most important estate planning decision you have to make is choosing a guardian for them should the unthinkable occur. It’s critical to put much thought into this decision to ensure your children would be cared for as you wish in such a situation.

Evaluating potential candidates

Here are a few issues to consider when evaluating...

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Watch out for the ACA employer mandate when hiring seasonal workers

December 20, 2017

Many employers hire seasonal workers this time of year. If your organization is one of them, you might worry about becoming subject to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer mandate — also known as the “play or pay” provision. To determine whether you may be at risk for triggering the mandate and, ultimately, penalties, you’ll need to count all of your...

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Make New Year’s resolutions to improve profitability

December 20, 2017

Many people scoff at New Year’s resolutions. It’s no mystery why — these self-directed promises to visit the gym regularly or read a book a month tend to quickly fade once the unavoidable busyness of life sets in.

But, for business owners, the phrase “New Year’s resolutions” is just a different way of saying “strategic plans.” And these...

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Thorough Due Diligence Can Protect Your Acquistion From Fraud

December 20, 2017

In today’s rough-and-tumble world of mergers and acquisitions (M&As), buyers need to get to know business sellers and their executives, test their representations about asset condition and financial performance, and screen for common fraud schemes. Here’s why.

Whose side are they on?

Without adequate M&A due diligence, unwary buyers...



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Give to Loved Ones Before Year End

 

 

 

 

 

As the holiday season quickly approaches, gift giving will be top of mind. While gifts of electronics, toys and clothes are nice, making tax-free gifts of cash using your annual exclusion is beneficial for both you and your family.

Even in a potentially changing estate tax environment, making annual...

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2018 Q1 Tax Calendar

December 14, 2017

 

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2018. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.

January 31
File...

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Practice the fine art of inclusion at your holiday gatherings

December 5, 2017

It’s that time of year, business owners — a time when you’re not only trying to wind down the calendar in profitable fashion, but also preparing year-end financials and contemplating next year’s budget. And amidst all this, you likely have a holiday employee gathering to plan.

Read More...

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Alma, MI 48801

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Fax: 989.463.4055

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Phone: 989.463.6123 • Fax: 989.463.4055
Email: chad.payton@rpccpas.com