Taxpayers Encouraged to Get Paycheck Check Up

If it has been a while since you have looked at your pay stub or reviewed your tax withholding, stop what you’re doing and make a point to do it today.  Circumstances change and with the new Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA) in December 2017, there are even more pressing reasons to perform a quick paycheck review. According to the IRS, employers should encourage employees to use the new IRS withholding calculator at www.IRS.gov/w4app to make sure that their federal income tax withholding is in line with the changes made by TCIA.  The danger is that with the changes, employees may be unknowingly withholding too much or too little and will end up owing much more than they planned for 2018 income taxes.  The IRS has also released a set of special plain language Tax Reform Tax Tips, a You Tube video series and other special efforts to help taxpayers better understand the implications of the law.

Among the groups who should check their withholding are:

  • Two-income families.
  • People working two or more jobs or who only work for part of the year.
  • People with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
  • People with older dependents, including children age 17 or older.
  • People who itemized deductions in 2017.
  • People with high income and more complex tax returns.
  • People with large tax refunds or large tax bills for 2017.

 

How does the calculator work?

The calculator asks questions about employment history including even partial year or short employment periods. If the taxpayer has more than one part-year job, the withholding calculator can account for this as well, whereas the paper W-4 worksheets do not distinguish between part and full year jobs.

 

Two-income families, multiple job holders

For individuals with more complex tax profiles, such as two or more incomes or multiple jobs, the risks of being under withheld is even greater. Users can even use the withholding calculator to enter income from multiple job or from two employed spouses. It can also ensure that taxpayers apply their 2018 tax deductions, adjustments and credits once rather than multiple times with different employers.

 

Plan for Different Standard Deductions

The TCJA nearly doubled standard deductions and changed several of the itemized deductions for 2018. Individuals who previously itemized deductions on their federal income tax filing may not be able itemize, but may find that they can take the standard deduction, further affecting how much tax payers may need to have withheld.  “With all of the changes this year, it is especially important for taxpayers to fully understand the financial impact on their federal withholding rather than waiting,” says Dave Flynn, owner of Flynn Accounting Solutions in Stoneham, MA. “There’s no reason to have an expensive surprise in next April’s tax filing, when a simple check at the IRS.gov website can help taxpayers correct their withholding amounts now,” he continues.

To make a change to the withholding now, taxpayers will need to complete a new Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate to their employer. Waiting until later in the year, means that there will be fewer pay periods remaining to make any necessary correction deductions before year end – which could seriously impact on each paycheck.  Taxpayers with even more complicated situations may want to reach out for guidance.

 

To learn more about tax planning, talk with a Professional Small Business Advisor by clicking Find an Accountant on this page.

 

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

 

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

 

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

 

 

 

Tired of Not Getting Paid?

Freelancers have become an even larger part of the small business population since the great recession of 2009. According to a 2014 study commissioned by the Freelancers Union, some 34 percent of the total workforce is independent workers, or freelancers. That number is expected to rise to nearly 50 percent by 2020.  Many large companies who traditionally hired workers, now subcontract to freelancers, saving the company overhead for items like space, technology (computers, cell phones, printers, etc.) and benefits packages including health insurance, vacation and holiday pay. There are upsides to freelancing as well. Freelancers can set their own schedules, pick and choose projects and often experience greater creative freedom – but at a price. As more companies struggle to meet their own financial obligations, freelancers often end up on the bottom of the accounts receivable pile waiting 60 or 90 days or more to be paid.

 

Steps for improving your bottom line.

Freelancers often send an invoice and wait. While it may feel like much of the accounts payable is out of your control, there are steps you can take to improve payment frequency and the amount of dollars clients are paying you.

 

Contracts and deposits are your friends.

Rather than performing the work first and billing after completion, send a contract and initial deposit invoice prior to any work commencing. This works on many fronts. First the client will have a much clearer understanding of your relationship, when to expect work and when they will need to pay you. Secondly, there will be no doubt about the payment terms including any late payment fees, because you outlined them in the contract. Having a specific contract that covers each step of the project will also help to keep the project on time and on budget. Freelancers also face changes of scope on an almost daily basis. Instituting change orders is a great way to ensure that the scope of work and costs don’t exceed the initial project’s goals. How many times has a client stopped a project part way through making it nearly impossible to invoice for the work completed? Requesting an initial deposit, or regularly scheduled payments throughout the life of the project will help improve your cash flow while also keeping the client committed to the project. If the scope or goals do change, at least the client will understand that there is a process for that and know what to expect from you.

 

Take credit cards.

Clients may have the same cash flow issues you’re facing, but if you provide several different options for payment, odds are that you will see an increase in timely payments. Only a few years ago, credit card processing was only for larger companies, but with the advent of handheld card reading devices like Square, taking credit card payments is easy and cost-effective for any size business. Initial deposits, scheduled payments and final payments can all be set up in advance and automatically charged to your client by your accounting software, too. That way, you can spend more time working and less time processing invoices and payments.

 

Do your homework.

Consider if you were a financial lender and a client came to you to borrow money. You certainly wouldn’t give him thousands of your hard earned dollars without a contract outlining when he would pay you back. Nor would you just hand over the money without some type of credit check or personal history to ensure that he was credit worthy.  Just because you are an independent contractor shouldn’t mean that you hand over your time and talents without the same scrutiny. Taking the time to do a little homework on your clients’ credit history will prevent you from unwanted financial surprises down the road.  That doesn’t mean that surprises won’t still happen – they will.

 

Clients are business owners, too. Sometimes they need a helping hand just like you. “It’s important to consider each client individually,” says Van Ballantyne, owner of Counting House Associates in Greenland, NH.  “Personal relationships are so important for small business owners,” he continues. “You may want to sit with your client and discuss a new payment strategy to help them over a hardship. In the end, you may achieve your goal of keeping that client and saving the relationship, too.”

 

To learn more about how you can improve your bottom line and strengthen your business’ financial position, talk with a Small Business Advisor today.

 

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

 

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

 

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

The Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Your Favorite Charity

There are many winners and losers from the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017, and nonprofits may be one of the biggest losers. While you may still plan on contributing to your local charity in 2018 and beyond, it will be harder for you to receive the tax benefit due to an increase in the standard deduction.  While not everyone gives to charity to take a tax deduction, there will be a substantial downshift in the quantity and frequency of contributions that nonprofits may start to see. The upside is that these impacts are ‘temporary’ as a part of the TCJA and will phase out by 2025 unless extended by Congress.

 

What’s changed?

A major part of the TCJA was a simplification in tax filing. This streamlining resulted in an increase in the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for single individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples.  It is estimated that the approximate 30 percent of tax payers who currently itemize their deductions will drop to about 6 percent in 2018. That translates to a drop of between $12 billion to $20 billion in charitable giving and charitable tax deductions according to the Tax Policy Center. Less itemized deductions means less opportunity for would-be donors to take a tax deduction for their charitable giving. Nonprofits are already bracing for the financial black hole that is to come.

 

Taxpayers are thinking strategically about their charitable giving, too. The New York Times wrote recently about the option of ‘bunching’ charitable contributions. Bunching is where instead of making annual contributions to charity, tax payers would accumulate donations over several years and make them in one year’s worth of gifts in order to take the larger itemized deduction and receive the tax break. But what happens to the nonprofit that counts on a steady stream of income and now faces substantial changes to donations?  Let’s take a quick look at donor advised funds. A somewhat daunting term for what translates to donating funds privately, donor advised funds allow the contributors to donate money and take the tax deduction in the same year, but pay the money to chosen charities over a predetermined time horizon.  The donor doesn’t control the money once it’s deposited to the fund, but can direct the fund’s administrator on how they would like the dollars allocated. Additionally, certain funds have an investment component that allows the fund to potentially yield even greater profits down the road.  While donor advised funds aren’t new to the financial industry, they are gaining traction as larger national funds have affiliated with big financial firms such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab.

In addition to the increase of the standard deduction, taxpayers are also facing substantially limited deductions for state and local taxes along with home mortgage interest. In states like California, New York, and Massachusetts, where both local and state taxes are high coupled with high real estate values may mean that the tax burden will be greater and charitable giving even less.

There is a small upside to these changes. The Act calls for an increase in the amount of deduction that an individual can make from 50 percent to 60 percent of his/her adjusted gross income. The nonprofit may see a slightly larger contribution than had been seen previously. Time will tell if this greater increase in donation maximums will bear fruit for nonprofits big and small across the country.

If you have questions or still aren’t clear on what type of contributions will be deductible or what your deduction threshold is, it may be time to talk with a Small Business Advisor. You can find one in your area by clicking on the Find an Accountant link above.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

 

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

 

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

 

 

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s Impact on Small Business

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. Congress passed major tax changes affecting both individuals and businesses across the country. The Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 (TCJA) has far-reaching impact for many business types and individuals.

Business Taxes

  • The corporate income tax rate is permanently lowered from 35 to 21 percent starting in January 1, 2018.
  • Pass through businesses – A new 20 percent deduction of qualifying business income from some pass-through businesses in industries such as sole proprietorships, partnerships and S Corporations will now be available. According to the Brookings Institute, pass-through businesses, those businesses who have their income ‘pass through’ to their owners, account for approximately 95 percent of U.S. businesses, while only 5 percent are C-corporations. Previously, income for pass-through businesses was charged at the highest personal tax income rate of 39.6 percent. The new law allows for 20 percent of the pass-through to be deductible while the remainder is subject to tax at the individual marginal income tax rates to a new lower maximum of 37 percent. There are exclusions including health, law, and professional services organizations except for households with taxable income below $157,500 for single filers and $315,000 for married filers. For these filers, there is a restriction to pass one of two tests:
    • 50 percent of the wages paid by the pass-through entity; or
    • 25 percent of the wages paid plus 2.5 percent of the “tangible, depreciable property used by the pass-through entity to make income. These pass-through provisions will expire at the end of 2025.
  • AMT – The TCJA eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) allowing for full expensing of capital investments for the next five years.
  • Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act – Part of the larger TCJA law, this change provides excise relief in the next two calendar years of 2018 and 2019. Brewers that produce less than 2 million barrels annually will be taxed at a rate of $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels of beer produced, and $16 per barrel on any further barrels produced up to 6 million. This change will help to provide additional capital that previously would have been sent to the government enabling additional growth and profitability. This reduction also impacts wineries and distillers.
  • Section 179 deductions- Used for expensing capital assets for small business, the deduction thresholds have been raised from $500,000 to $1 million. Odds are most small businesses won’t be able to reinvest such a large amount of $500,000 to $1 million in capital expenditures in a single year, but the offer is nice.

Personal

  • Individual tax brackets – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act retains the current seven individual income tax brackets, but modifies both the width and tax rates. The new brackets are reduced to 10%, 12%,22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37% respectively. The downside is that while these tax changes are permanent for corporate tax payers, the individual tax changes are temporary, running out in 2025. Additionally, the Tax Policy Center found that “while the average household would get a big initial cut, by 2027 households in the $50,000 to $75,000 income range would see an average increase of $30 compared with today.  Secondly, the bill is expected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit. How will this be paid?  As mentioned by Speaker of House Paul Ryan, healthcare entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are the best way to handle the growing deficit.
  • Child Tax Credit – There is an increase in the child tax credit amount to $2,000 from the current$1,000. Families making up to approximately $400,000 will get to take the credit and more of the tax credit is refundable, meaning that families that work but don’t earn enough to actually owe federal income taxes will get a check back from the government.
  • ACA Penalty – Repeal of the individual healthcare mandate penalty for not having health insurance starting in 2019. How this will play out in uninsured Americans and increased health insurance costs down the road is yet to be seen.

 

The new tax changes did not simplify the tax code, rather it is now more complicated.  To learn more or to have your specific questions answered talk with a professional small business advisor.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

 

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

New 2018 Tax Withholdings May Bring an Unwanted Surprise

The Treasury Department recently announced revisions to the 2018 withholding tables to reflect the changes spurred by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  Included in the law, employers can use worker’s existing W-4 Forms already on file to make the adjustments to their withholding.

 

What that means for employers:

Since it isn’t mandatory for employees to review their W-4 form after their initial employment, employers may want to reach out to workers to encourage them to thoroughly review their pay stubs after the first payroll with the new withholding rates. Additionally, new forms will be forthcoming from the IRS, so employers will need to again communicate with workers about completing the new form to update their individual withholdings.

 

What the changes mean for workers:

Some 90 percent of workers will see an increase in their weekly pay as a result of the TCJA according to Government estimates. The Tax Policy Center estimates that about 80 percent of all filers will see a tax cut, while approximately 5 percent will see an increase, and no change for the remaining 15 percent.

 

What’s the issue?

Many Americans haven’t reviewed or even seen their W-4 Form since they were hired, so changes to the withholding could have more serious impact on a family that has grown or shrank over the years. Tax payers who are either under or over-withholding aren’t going to see the full impact of the change until it comes time to pay their 2018 income taxes – too late to make what could be costly changes.  “The results could vary dramatically from one individual to the next,” says Steven Feinberg, CPA and owner of Appletree Business Services in Londonderry, NH. “We are encouraging both employers and employees to review their withholdings,  compare it to their current situation and make any necessary changes now rather than waiting a full year to see what the impact might be.”

New Tax Brackets for 2018

Single Rate Married
Above $500,000 37% Above $600,000
$200,001-$500,000 35% $400,001-$600,000
$157,501-$200,000 32% $315,001-$400,000
$82,501-$157,500 24% $165,001-$315,000
$38,701 -$82,500 22% $77,401-$165,000
$9,526-$38,700 12% $19,051-$77,400
Up to $9,525 10% Up to $19,050

Source: Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, H.R.1

The new withholding tables have been adjusted to include new larger standard deductions, lower tax rates and the repeal of the personal exemption. What the tables couldn’t include is how the changes would affect individuals differently. For example, the reducing alternative minimum tax, expanded child credits and repeal of deductions on the state and local levels. All of these items can come into play and impact what an individual might normally ‘expect’ for an annual tax refund.

 

Tax officials at the US Treasury and the IRS are working on a revised W-4 form, which they hope to release sometime in February 2018.

 

Those at risk for under-withholding could include employees who receive bonuses, stock options or commissions because the withholding rate for that population has dropped from 25 percent to 22 percent. Additionally, parents with dependents over the age of 17 are also losing a key tax credit of $2,000, replacing it with just $500. Couple that with the loss of the personal exemption, and those tax cuts aren’t looking nearly as attractive as they were on the surface.

 

Another item to remember is that the tax penalty for underpayment, meaning the requirement of taxpayers to pay in at least 90 percent of what they owe by April 15th still carries a 4 percent interest rate quarterly. “Waiting and finding out that you substantially owe more income taxes could be coupled with a pretty hefty penalty,” continues Feinberg.

 

To learn more about the new 2018 payroll withholding changes, talk with a Professional Small Business Advisor by clicking on Find an Accountant at the top of the page.

 

 

 

 

 

What the End of Net Neutrality May Mean for Your Small Business

Net neutrality is the concept that the internet service providers should provide equal access to web sites regardless of content or the source. The idea is that by allowing equal access everyone, big business or small, average Joe or superstar has the same access to information on the Net.

 

The current net neutrality laws were carried over in the Obama administration in February of 2015 with a vote of 3-2. Under the direction of Thomas Wheeler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, many were concerned that his lobbyist past and membership in the National Cable and Telecommunications Association would shift net neutrality in the direction of big corporate internet providers. What happened was a strong support for the American consumer. Zoom forward two years and net neutrality is once again up for debate as a new administration makes moves to threaten access.

How can changes in net neutrality impact small business?

  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may have the ability to limit the speeds of the internet based on websites or apps frequented.
  • IPSs may be able to charge each website for data prioritization, which would give increased speeds while browsing that site.

Still puzzled about how shifts in net neutrality could impact you? Think of it this way, on the school playground there’s always a big, threatening kid who bullies the other smaller kids into giving over their lunches, paying for his snacks or some other egregious ‘fee’ for simply breathing in his space. ISPs, if left to their own devices, may become like those playground bullies, charging small businesses exorbitant fees just to play in the same playground as everyone else.  Worse yet, because your mom only gives you enough money to buy lunch but some kids have lunch money and an allowance, the playing field shifts further because they can afford to pay more for better access to the playground. Net neutrality means that your small business gets the same internet speeds and access as Target, Walmart and your local diner. It’s fair and equal for all. Loss of net neutrality will cost your business in lost marketing opportunities, a tightened sales pipeline and less access and online sales.

 

It is important that small businesses recognize what is being threatened and let their voices be heard. If you don’t agree with the changes happening, make a call or send an email to your local representatives and senator.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

ACA Reporting Extension Announced

If you were panicking about getting those pesky Forms 1095-B and 1095-C’s out to your employees by January 31, 2018, there’s a little good news.  The IRS announced an extension on December 22, 2017 that now provides additional time for Applicable Large Employers (ALEs), those employers with 50 ore more full time employees, to prepare and send the Form 1095-B/1095-C to report information about each employee’s offer of health coverage, affordability and month’s actually covered by the employer plan.  Employers that also offer employer-sponsored self-insured coverage will also use Form 1095-C.  The new deadline, which is a 30-day extension from the original and is automatic, is now March 2, 2018 to provide the Form 1095-B or 1095-C to individuals.  Due dates for filing the 2017 information returns with the IRS are not extended and remain February 28, 2018 for paper filers and April 2, 2018 for electronic filers.

 

But you thought that the Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA) of 2017 put an end to employer ACA reporting?

Well, yes and no.  The only item related to the Affordable Care Act was the repeal of the individual mandate, which was the penalty for not actively seeking out and obtaining health coverage.  The penalty still remains in effect throughout 2018 and will be $695 per adult or 2.5% of household income in excess of tax filing thresholds, whichever is greater. Employers must continue to report under Section 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code regarding minimal essential coverage (MEC). This information is reported on Forms 1094-C (the IRS transmittal) and 1095-C, the employee informational form. For other plan sponsors such as multi-employer plans, health plan issuers, etc., the reporting is done on Forms 1094-B and 1095-B respectively.

 

Employees do not need to submit the 1095-B or 1095-C with their 2017 individual income tax return.

If you have questions or still aren’t clear on your business’ responsibilities, talk with a Small Business Advisor. You can find one in your area by clicking on the Find an Accountant link above.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

Review Your Healthcare Options – Now.

There are over 27 million self-employed entrepreneurs and micro-businesses in the United States. If your small business is anything like the other 27 million, you’re probably struggling with the constant upheaval in the health insurance market. Now is the time to review your small business health insurance.

What should you be looking for in small business healthcare coverage?

  • If you are insuring yourself or just your family, you’ll want to review your current health care needs.
  • Does anyone in your family need to see a doctor or specialist on a regular or frequent basis?
  • Do you currently have prescriptions for yourself or family members?
  • What about bigger ticket items such as planning for a baby or needing a surgery in the coming plan year?

Answers to these questions can help you determine how much insurance you’ll need and where the break-even point is between premium costs, the initial cost of the plan, and other plan costs such as copayments, amounts you pay towards a service, and coinsurance and deductibles, the portion you are responsible for before your insurance kicks in. All of these costs add up to your total costs for the plan. The more you know before you start, the better prepared you’ll be to make a solid financial choice.

Small business Health Options Programs (SHOP) and Health Care Exchanges – Are you insuring just yourself or do you have employees to cover as well? If you are just looking for insurance as a self-employed individual or family, the healthcare.gov website is a great starting place.  Created as part of the Affordable Care Act, the SHOP exchange allows you to review health plan offerings in your state, including prescription drug coverage, copayments for things like doctor visits, specialists and lab tests along with more major events like maternity care and surgery. If you have changes in your healthcare needs since last year, taking a look at these differences can significantly impact your bottom line each month.

Private Healthcare Exchanges – Unlike the public exchanges, private exchanges are just that, private. You can elect to join a private exchange and then select how much coverage you are willing to pay for your employees, also called Defined Contributions. Employers agree to a set dollar amount, say $750 a month and then employees can shop the exchange and select the plans and coverage levels that best suit their needs.  Employers can put restrictions on how the dollars are spent, for example, $500 must be spent on medical insurance and then the remaining funds can be spent on other coverages like dental, vision or voluntary insurances, or the employee may have the option to spend the dollars any way they see fit on the exchange.

Direct Insurance – Offering insurance to your employees? There are rules in the Affordable Care Act about the type of insurance plans that you can offer your employees.  The plans must offer a minimum essential coverage (MEC) for items such as preventative care, annual physicals, child well visits, mammography and other services. You can shop for these plans yourself, which means that you’ll also be responsible for all paperwork, open enrollments, claim issues, eligibility and billing, or enlist the help of an insurance broker. Additionally, some insurers don’t sell small group insurance on a direct basis, so your options may be even more limited without the help of a broker.  If your business belongs to a trade association, there may be additional insurance buying power available.

While health insurance may seem confusing and overwhelming, know that help is out there. Start by working your budget and understanding your basic health care needs. From that point, you can make decisions about the type, level and individuals you’ll be covering.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.

 

Profit versus Cash Flow

Every small business financial advisor has heard it before, “If my business is profitable why don’t I have any money?” The way cash flows in and out of your business is a lynchpin for understanding business finance.  There is also a huge difference between making money and managing it.  So often entrepreneurs start a business because they love creating a new widget, or offering a leading-edge service, but they have little to no business management experience. Terms like forecasting, budgeting and cash flow are meaningless until the monthly bills come due and payroll can’t be covered. Rather than waiting until there’s a problem, let’s make a pact to learn the basics for how profits and cash flow operate.

Lesson #1 Profit and Cash Flow are Different

Profit is revenue minus expenses. That means any monies left over after all the bills are paid is considered profit. Conversely, cash flow refers to the influx and outflow of cash in the business, i.e. where is the money going and why. If you go to the store to buy milk and you have no money, you have a cash flow problem. If you have money expected to you in two months, that makes buying milk nearly impossible now even though profitability is promised at a later date.

 

The other crux is that a business selling additional widgets (i.e. increasing sales) does not necessarily immediately increase cash flow, in fact, more often than not, the increased sales will immediately reduce it. Now you’re thinking, if sales help to generate revenue, why wouldn’t I want more sales?  Sales, especially where widgets are concerned will require an immediate additional cash outlay to manufacture, package, and distribute the item(s). All of these steps must occur well in advance of delivery and invoicing and another ten to 45 days or more can go by before the company is paid for the products. That timeframe between production of the widget and payment of the widget is where cash flow management lives.

Lesson #2 – Look at your options.

Precise cash flow management, much like a synchronized swimming routine, must occur in a timely, well-choreographed dance in order to keep the business operating, expenses covered and employees paid. Part of this monetary routine can include:

Collections – Where are your current account receivables? Are they current or in arrears and if so, how far? By placing your attention on existing receivables and making efforts to encourage payments, cash flow will be improved. For invoices that are more than 90 days past due, consider a collection agency or some other type of arrangement.

Delaying cash payments – Review how your orders are placed for materials with vendors. Can you set contracts for orders where a percentage is paid up front and the remaining balance paid in 15 or 30 days? This will improve cash flow as it will remain in-house longer.

Raising Additional Capital – If you cannot meet your financial obligations within the necessary time, it may be necessary to solicit additional cash through loans, issuing capital stock, employee ownership or some other type of arrangement.  Again, planning and attention to cash flow can help with strategic timing and more attractive interest rates and loan agreements. Covering debts in a crisis mode will inevitably mean less attractive interest payments and possibly selling more ownership than originally intended.

 

Lesson #3 – Too much competition can kill revenue.

That’s right, the one thing that makes capitalism work is competition, yet competition can be the very thing that can take a business under the quickest. How? When businesses are constantly bidding for business and trying to shave off profit margins in order to win the contract, those pennies, nickels and dollars can all add up to no actual profit at the end of the day. Yes, the business has lots of money moving through the business, but not much staying in the bank accounts. Try to be brutally honest with yourself and your bidding so that you know up-front if your business can afford to take a reduction in costs or even a loss in order to gain business.  Make sure that you are working from real numbers and in partnership with your finance team in order plan for losses on one contract and profits on another.

There are volumes of books and doctoral theses on the process of cash flow and cash management which can be consulted. If you don’t have that kind of time, it may be time to bring in some additional financial advisory assistance. Reach out to a PASBA Small Business Advisor and learn how they can help you make sense of your business.

PASBA member accountants bring the collective resources of a nationwide network of Certified Public Accountants, Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents and other practitioners available to answer your tax and financial questions and streamline your business accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll operations.

To find a trusted accountant in your area, visit www.SmallBizAccountants.com.

Please be advised that, based on current IRS rules and standards, any advice contained herein is not intended to be used, nor can it be used, for the avoidance of any tax penalty that the IRS may assess related to this matter. Any information contained in this article, whether viewed or subsequently printed, cannot be relied upon as qualified tax and accounting advice. Any information contained in this article does not fall under the guidelines of IRS Circular 230.