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June 26, 2017
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Ways to Prevent Employee dishonesty

You’ll find most of your employees are honest and walk the straight and narrow. However, not all employee fraud is intentional. From disorganized expense reports to poorly defined office procedures, employee mistakes could be costing your client thousands. Here’s some ideas to help:

Automate Expense Reports:

Mistakes happen, and they’re especially easy to make on manually processed expense reports. If you are using QuickBooks you can set up the program to automatically pull in transactions. It can be set up to classify each employees expenses.

In QuickBooks, expenses are automatically categorized and manual data entry is virtually eliminated. The ease of use may also be a morale boost.

Instill Checks & Balances:

No single person should be responsible for money coming in and going out. Simply diversifying staff can reduce the chance for human error, as well as intentional fraud. For example, an administrative assistant struggling to play bookkeeper may not have the proper training or organizational mindset to deal with bills, mail, deposits and payments for the entire company. There should always be a second set of eyes on important financial documents.

Lay Down Ground Rules:

Employees don’t necessarily understand what’s expected of them without a clear set of ground rules, along with managers who lead by example. It may seem perfectly normal to skim office supplies or snacks if the office has a relaxed, communal atmosphere. Employees may also think nothing of borrowing things from around the office, or not claiming something on their expense report one month and making up for it on the next month. Though not intentionally deceiving the company, there is a lack of transparency.

I encourage you to lay down the ground rules for new hires and hold a semi-annual meeting to discuss issues such as morale, productivity and expectations. The more employees understand exactly what the office policies are and why they’re important, the more likely they are to follow them.

Create a Company Credit Card Policy:

Business credit cards are an efficient way to manage employee expenses, and offer a level of transparency into charges, spending trends and expenses that personal cards, cash payments and paper receipts can’t provide. Still, it’s important to take steps to ensure business credit cards aren’t abused.

It’s fairly simple for employees to make charges, or accidentally mix up business with personal expenses. A streamlined expense reporting system, as well as a checks and balances process, is necessary. You should issue a company credit card, with firm guidelines on how employees can use it and for what purposes. Review each expense and set spending limits and alerts. It’s also advisable to require pre-approval for large purchases. Most business credit cards come with some degree of fraud protection, alleviating the financial responsibility in the event fraud happens.

Foundation rules, a corporate credit card policy and expense reporting guidelines can go a long way in saving the company money.

June 20, 2017
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Hello Today I Want to Tell You a Story

Every now and then someone will come to the office to see about me doing their taxes. When we get to my price sometimes they complain that they did not pay that much last year. Sadly I can not say what I want to say so I just asked him “then why are you looking for a new tax person?” I tried to explain why I charge what I do. Today I am going to share with you a true story:

A client this past tax season was complaining that our $300 tax preparation fee was too high.  He said “I can get the same thing across the street for $60.”  He stated that his information had not changed, same income and everything. I explained that I was sorry but you get what you pay for and I am a professional and the person across the street is working out of their home. Please feel free to go back to her or find someone else.

I asked did the person accross the street ask you any of the questions I have asked you today? He replied “no”. Did they spend any time with you at all trying to figure out additional deductions you could take? Once again the answer was no.

He asked if I really thought I could get him a better refund and I explained that with the questions I just asked you, I know you are going to be getting about $4000 more then you did last year.

Here is how the numbers break down. Last year he paid $60 to have his returns done. He owed $900 in taxes. That is a cost of $960. This year I charged him $300 and got him $5225 back so he received $4,925. I will say that he received a raise this year so he also made more money.

If you would like to know what deductions and credits I was able to help him with take a look at my blog.

Another client asked me to review her returns that she did on Turbo Tax. (Sorry Turbo Tax but this is a true story.) I am not sure how much she paid for the service but I hear it is quite low. Anyway, she had missed the child tax credit and she had one child so that gave her another $1000 off her income. She went from getting almost nothing back to getting around $500 back.

It is not how much you pay it is how much you get to keep.

June 15, 2017
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Thinking of Tossing Old Tax Records? Read This First.

June 15, 2017

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Thinking of Tossing Old Tax Records? Read This First.

Article Highlights:

  • Reasons to Keep Records
  • Statute of Limitations
  • Maintaining Records of Asset Basis
  • Keeping Records for Carry forward Losses

Now that your taxes have been completed for 2016, you are probably wondering which old records can be discarded. If you are like most taxpayers, you have records from years ago that you are afraid to throw away. It would be helpful to understand why the records must be kept in the first place.

Generally, we keep tax records for two basic reasons: (1) in case the IRS or a state agency decides to question the information reported on our tax returns, and (2) to keep track of the tax basis of our capital assets so that the tax liability can be minimized when we dispose of them.

With certain exceptions, the statute for assessing additional taxes is three years from the return due date or the date the return was filed, whichever is later. Read More

June 9, 2017
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Summer Time Hires – continue

2017  SUMMER HIRING RULES
Rules for 100% parent-owned businesses

Owners’ children of any age
• Can work any number of hours or time of day. No one under 16 can do hazardous work (e.g., with lawn mowers, sewing machines), work near flammable or hazardous materials, or where food is cooked.

• If all employees are immediate family, owners’ children need not be paid the minimum wage—but if others are regularly employed, even family must be paid the minimum wage.

Owners’ children under 21
• Wages are exempt from FUTA.

Any children under 18
• If the business is 100% parent-owned, the children under 18 are exempt from FICA. Continue Reading →

May 26, 2017
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Summer Time Hires

Summer is almost here and some of us will be hiring part-time summer help. Here is what you need to keep in mind:

  • Get W-4 and NC-4 filled out for everyone including your children.
  • Verify their ID.
  • Withhold Federal taxes from everyone unless they mark their W-4 with Exempt.
  • Withhold Social Security and Medicare from everyone’s pay. Exception: Children under 18 working for sole-owner parent.
  • Pay overtime for hours actually worked over 40 hours in the workweek.

Read the rest a here

 

March 25, 2017
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4 Ways to Keep Employees Honest

You’ll find most of your employees are honest and walk the straight and narrow. However, not all employee fraud is intentional. From disorganized expense reports to poorly defined office procedures, employee mistakes could be costing your client thousands. Here’s some ideas to help:

Automate Expense Reports:

Mistakes happen, and they’re especially easy to make on manually processed expense reports. If you are using QuickBooks you can set up the program to automatically pull in transactions. It can be set up to classify each employees expenses.

In QuickBooks, expenses are automatically categorized and manual data entry is virtually eliminated. The ease of use may also be a morale boost.

Instill Checks & Balances:  Continue Reading →

March 21, 2017
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Facing a Debt Collector

What are Your Rights?
Many Americans are behind on their bills due to high unforeseen medical bills extended unemployment, or mounting credit card debt. Being contacted by a debt collector can be an upsetting and stressful experience. It is important to know your rights to protect yourself from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers by outlawing some collection practices and regulating others. Here are some of your rights under the Act:

Continue Reading →

March 15, 2017
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Stop! Before You Take that Trip

Consider these ways to spend your refund check.

Almost 90% of Americans are expected to receive a tax refund this year at an average of $3,036, up 10% from last year! That’s a lot of money in your pocket. While it’s tempting to treat yourself to a vacation or shopping spree, consider using your refund check for your long-term benefit. Here are six suggestions on how to put that money to good use:

Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt. Lenders are increasing fees and interest rates, making credit card debt more expensive than ever. If you have large credit card debts, the bulk of your refund should go toward paying it down.

Add Money to Your Emergency Fund. Everyone should have a liquid savings account for emergencies. You should have liquid funds to cover four to six months of expenses, and even more if you are worried about unemployment.

Pay Down Other Debt. Look to paying down your auto loans, home mortgage and home equity debt. It is always nice to head into retirement without worrying about debt payments.

Save for Retirement. If you are out of debt and already have a substantial emergency fund, you may want to put the money in your retirement fund(s). For options on retirement accounts give us a call.

Buy Something You Need. If you are saving for a new house, a new car, or to replace a broken appliance, spending the money on a planned and necessary purchase is a good choice.

Splurge! … but just a little. While spending all of your refund on a trip or a big-ticket item is not usually a good idea, give yourself permission to spend part of your refund on something fun. But limit the amount (10% of your refund or less is generally a good guideline). That way you’ll feel better about spending the rest of it wisely and not feel like you are depriving yourself.