Archives for Finance

It’s Not Too Early to Organize for Your Tax Returns

We are entering the holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  Homes will be busy with holiday shopping, entertaining family and friends, and lots of holiday decorations.  Before you know it, it will be time to file your 2017 taxes.

Take a few moments now to collect the tax-related paperwork that reflect the special events that happened in your life this year, and put it safely away for January.

Here are some events to consider, and some items to collect now:

  • Did you buy or sell a home? A copy of your mortgage and closing documents
  • Did you have any casualty, theft or loss? A copy of all paperwork relating to the event
  • Did you get married? Social security cards
  • Did you get divorced or separated? A copy of the divorce decree or separation agreement, showing child support, alimony, and property settlement arrangements
  • Did you have any medical expenses? A copy of ALL unreimbursed receipts from any medical provider, pharmacy, and insurance provider
  • Did you move? Old and new address, and receipts for ALL expenses related to the move
  • Did you have a baby? Date of Birth, and Social Security Number (if you have one)
  • Did you start a new job? Receipts related to a new job search, or anything related to you getting the new job.
  • Did you or someone in your family attend school (beyond high school)? Receipts for all school related expenses including tuition, room and board, books, and other items
  • Did you start a new business? This list is VERY long.  I recommend you visit our website and review the July 2017 Client Newsletter, which lists much of the paperwork needed to record new business expenses.
  • Did you donate to a charity/non-profit/religious organization? A copy of your receipt is needed.
  • Did you pay for daycare? You will need either the name and SSN of the person (if an individual), or the name, address, and EIN or the business or organization
  • Did you pay Personal Property Tax? A copy of the receipt
  • A copy of your 2016 Federal and State tax returns should be kept with your 2017 paperwork.
  • A copy of ANY other paperwork you feel is important, or you have questions about (“I wonder if this is deductible?”). It is far better to have a copy of an item you have a question about, than to later learn you need it but can’t find it.

A simple filing system to keep everything organized is to file:

  • Family (birth/marriage/divorce/daycare)
  • Home (sale/purchase/casualty/theft/loss)
  • Moving or job related
  • Medical
  • Business
  • Other/Miscellaneous

My BEST recommendation is – keep ALL of your receipts.  As you can see from the brief list above, many normal events in your life have a tax implication.  If you have a question about an expense, keep a receipt, and ask us when we prepare your tax returns.rns.

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Supplemental Employee Benefits – What exactly are they and should we be looking at them for our business?

Why do employees want to work for you? More importantly, why do they want to stay? If you have as little as one employee, you should be thinking about benefits. We offer a variety of benefits with our Gusto payroll system, but one additional benefit you can offer, at LITTLE TO NO COST to the business, is Supplemental Employee Benefits. Let’s take a look at what you can do for your employees:

Accident, Cancer, Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity, Disability, Life

Benefit to Employers

Employers who offer supplemental benefits provide a valuable financial safety net to their employees. Offering these products allows you to enhance your current benefit package at little to no cost to the business, and gives your employees a wide array of options to choose from to help protect their financial security. It takes the burden off of the employer to make difficult decisions on whether or not to financially assist employees through a difficult financial time, caused by injury or illness.
Offering supplemental benefits can help reduce worker’s compensation experience and assist you in attracting and retaining quality employees. There can also be some payroll tax savings when combined with a Section 125 plan. When employers make supplemental coverages available at the workplace, employees respond favorably toward their employer. It is truly a win-win situation for both parties.

Benefit to Employees

Supplemental benefits provide cash directly to your employees when an unforeseen accident or illness strikes an employee or one of their family members. Payments can be used to pay non-medical expenses in addition to deductibles and co-pays. Benefits are payable over and above any other insurance they may have, including group medical. (No coordination of benefits required). These cash payments assist your employees in dealing with out-of-pocket costs and loss of income. Since most employees today live on virtually 100% of their paycheck, any unexpected, sudden reduction in income can have serious consequences to their lifestyle. Even with disability coverage, families can experience a severe hardship when they are unable to work due to an injury or illness. Many times, it is a family member who is injured or sick, and this is not covered under the employee’s disability plan. Having a menu of supplemental benefits to choose from allows you to customize your benefit package to meet your employee’s family’s specific needs and concerns.

Hampton Roads Accounting Clients have a special agent standing by to discuss your particular needs and see how Supplemental Employee Benefits can be offered in your company.

To get started, or to just learn more,
call Tammy at 757-499-1880 and tell her you were referred by Hampton Roads Accounting.

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10 Things to Think About When Choosing an Accounting Firm

What are you looking for in an accounting firm?  Every business owner is different, and has different needs.  YOUR needs are different than every other business owner, so take the time to choose an accounting firm that you feel comfortable with, and can provide you the services you need.

Here are 10 questions to ask a prospective accounting firm:

What type of firm are you?

Accounting firms generally fall into one of four categories:  Public accounting firms, tax specialists, forensic accountants, and bookkeepers.  Public accounting firms normally hire Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) that specialize in tax, auditing, and management consulting.  Tax specialists focus on tax preparation and tax planning for companies and individuals.  Forensic accountants investigate financial records to uncover fraudulent and illegal activities, and often work with federal and local law enforcement.  Bookkeeping firms provide fundamental accounting that most people know – accounts receivable, payroll, financial statements, bank reconciliation, tax preparation, loan document preparation and related services.

Level of Service

Exactly what services are you interested in?  Full service outsourced bookkeeping, or someone to check your records as you enter your information?  If you need complete bookkeeping services, look for a full-service accounting firm that employs bookkeepers who handle day-to-day client transactions. An accounting firm that does not employ bookkeepers will charge more if a CPA handles routine bookkeeping tasks.

Availability

How often do you want to meet with your accountant?  Once a year, once a quarter, once a month, or on call for every question you may have?  Some clients are content to meet with their accounting firm once a year for tax-filing purposes. Others clients have frequent business questions that require timely answers. Find out if your accountant is a phone call away or if you’ll have to schedule a time to come into the office and talk in person.

Fees

Some firms charge a set rate for each task they perform, such as filing a 1040 individual income tax form, balancing a monthly bank statement, or compiling a statement of net worth.  Other firms charge by the hour or the minute, meaning each phone call, meeting, or activity will cost you money.

Certifications/Education

There are over 40 different certifications for accountants, depending on the specialty.  The most widely known is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), the Enrolled Agent (EA), and the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).  Education for accounting professionals is normally a Bachelors or Masters degree in Accounting or Business Administration.

Advice

Some accounting firms are quick to offer advice on when to purchase equipment and how to keep financial records, while other accounting firms compile the necessary financial reports but offer little feedback. The amount of advice you need or want depends upon your financial knowledge and experience. If you need a lot of help, select a firm that offers in-depth financial counseling.

Personal Connection

In my opinion, this is the most important decision you must make when choosing an accounting firm.  You can hire the highest-priced accounting firm in town, but if you don’t feel comfortable discussing your finances, you aren’t getting the service you need. If the accountant talks in terms you don’t understand or if you feel intimidated, look for a different firm.

Goal Setting

Some accountants offer to help clients set goals and monitor financial progress, which can be very helpful if you’re just starting out in business. Find out the firm’s policy on goal setting and if you’ll be charged an additional fee for the service.

Audit Support

When the Internal Revenue Service comes knocking, it’s reassuring to know that your accountant will be right by your side. IRS audits are a way of life for some small-business owners and individual taxpayers, but facing an audit is a stressful situation. Some accounting firms offer their own offices for audit purposes and provide an accountant to represent your interests.

References

Old-fashioned word-of-mouth is as valuable a reference today as it ever was. Talk to friends or business associates to find out what accounting firm they use and if they would recommend it to others.  One note on references – a new accounting firm may not have references (just like you didn’t have references when you started YOUR business).  While references are important, don’t make your decision solely on them.  In the end, you must be comfortable working with your accounting firm.

 

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New Tax and Small Business Resource Section

We’ve just added a great resource section for our tax and small business clients.

Included are:

  • Dozens of courses from the Small Business Administration on starting and growing your business, marketing, management, finance, and government contracting.
  • 100 of the top IRS publications for individuals and small businesses, covering the most requested items by our clients.

The resources are free and available to everyone, so Click Here to visit the section today!

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