When a nonprofit is new, it may struggle to find an adequate number of board members. But as it grows, its board is also likely to grow — sometimes, to an unwieldy size. The question is: How many directors does your organization need to effectively pursue its mission? Perks and drawbacks Both small and large boards come with perks and drawbacks. For example, smaller boards allow for easier communication and greater cohesiveness among the members. Scheduling is less complicated, and meetings tend to be shorter and more focused. Several studies have indicated that group decision making is most effective when the group contains five to eight people. But boards on the small side of this range may lack the experience or diversity necessary to facilitate healthy deliberation and debate. What’s more, members may feel overworked and burn out easily. Burnout is less likely with a large board where each member...[ Read More ]
When a nonprofit is new, it may struggle to find an adequate number of board members. But as it grows, its board is also likely to grow — sometimes, to an unwieldy size. The question is: How many directors does your organization need to effectively pursue its mission? Perks and drawbacks Both small and large boards come with perks and drawbacks. For example, smaller boards allow for easier communication and greater cohesiveness among the members. Scheduling is less complicated, and meetings tend to be shorter and more focused. Several studies have indicated that group decision making is most effective when the group contains five to eight people. But boards on the small side of this range may lack the experience or diversity necessary to facilitate healthy deliberation and debate. What’s more, members may feel overworked and burn out easily. Burnout is less likely with a large board where each member...[ Read More ]
Emily was a dedicated board member of her community’s most prominent social-services charity. But her commitment to the cause and the nonprofit’s programs didn’t prevent her from inadvertently violating the rule against excess benefit transactions. This happened when the organization wanted to build a new facility and bought land from her even though similar, and potentially cheaper, property was available from nonaffiliated sellers. Emily made only a minimal profit, but the IRS took notice and began investigating the deal. You may know that your not-for-profit needs to avoid excess benefit transactions, but are you sure you know what they are? A full understanding can help your nonprofit avoid Emily’s and her charity’s mistake. Don’t let insiders profit First, it’s important to understand the concept of private inurement. A private benefit is any payment or transfer of assets made, directly or indirectly, by your nonprofit that’s 1) beyond reasonable compensation for...[ Read More ]
Footnotes appear at the end of a company’s audited financial statements. These disclosures provide insight into account balances, accounting practices and potential risk factors — knowledge that’s vital to making well-informed lending and investing decisions. Here are examples of key risk factors that you might unearth by reading between the lines in a company’s footnotes. Contingent (or unreported) liabilities A company’s balance sheet might not reflect all future obligations. Auditors may find out the details about potential obligations by examining original source documents, such as bank statements, sales contracts and warranty documents. They also send letters to the company’s attorney(s), requesting information about pending lawsuits and other contingent claims. Detailed footnotes may reveal, for example, an IRS inquiry, a wrongful termination lawsuit or an environmental claim. Footnotes may also spell out the details of loan terms, warranties, contingent liabilities and leases. Liabilities may be downplayed to avoid violating loan agreements...[ Read More ]

The Ins and Outs of IRAs

Posted April 13, 2022

Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs have been around for decades and the rules surrounding them have changed many times. What hasn’t changed is that they can help you save for retirement on a tax-favored basis. Here’s an overview. Traditional IRAs You can make an annual deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if: You (and your spouse) aren’t active participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans, or You (or your spouse) are active participants in an employer plan, and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary annually by filing status. For example, in 2022, if you’re a joint return filer covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $109,000 to $129,000 of MAGI ($68,000 to $78,000 for singles). Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings are tax-deferred. However, withdrawals are taxed in full (and subject to a 10% penalty if taken before age...[ Read More ]
If you’re in business for yourself as a sole proprietor, or you’re planning to start a business, you need to know about the tax aspects of your venture. Here are eight important issues to consider: 1. You report income and expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040. The net income is taxable to you regardless of whether you withdraw cash from the business. Your business expenses are deductible against gross income and not as itemized deductions. If you have any losses, they’re generally deductible against your other income, subject to special rules relating to hobby losses, passive activity losses and losses in activities in which you weren’t “at risk.” 2. You may be eligible for the pass-through deduction. To the extent your business generates qualified business income, you’re eligible to take the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations. The deduction is taken “below the line,” so it reduces taxable income, rather...[ Read More ]
The use of a company vehicle is a valuable fringe benefit for owners and employees of small businesses. This perk results in tax deductions for the employer as well as tax breaks for the owners and employees using the cars. (And of course, they get the nontax benefit of getting a company car.) Plus, current tax law and IRS rules make the benefit even better than it was in the past. The rules in action Let’s say you’re the owner-employee of a corporation that’s going to provide you with a company car. You need the car to visit customers, meet with vendors and check on suppliers. You expect to drive the car 8,500 miles a year for business. You also expect to use the car for about 7,000 miles of personal driving, including commuting, running errands and weekend trips. Therefore, your usage of the vehicle will be approximately 55% for...[ Read More ]

4 levels of audit opinions

Posted March 18, 2022

The first page of audited financial statements is the auditor’s report. This is an important part of the financials that shouldn’t be overlooked. It contains the audit opinion, which indicates whether the financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects, compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and free from material misstatement. In general, there are four types of audit opinions, ranked from most to least desirable. 1. Unqualified. A clean “unqualified” opinion is the most common (and desirable). Here, the auditor states that the company’s financial condition, position and operations are fairly presented in the financial statements. 2. Qualified. The auditor expresses a qualified opinion if the financial statements appear to contain a small deviation from GAAP but are otherwise fairly presented. To illustrate: An auditor will “qualify” his or her opinion if a borrower incorrectly estimates the reserve for a contingency, but the exception doesn’t affect the rest of the financial...[ Read More ]

Budgeting ideas for uncertain times

Posted March 10, 2022

  Budgeting, like many other things, was generally easier before COVID-19. Even though the pandemic isn’t over and much remains uncertain, not-for-profits need to plan their financial needs and project financial resources. But you might be able to make the budgeting process more effective by trying a new approach — for example, a rolling budget — or by reforecasting an existing budget. Roll with it Most nonprofits historically have relied on static budgets that are developed in advance of each fiscal year and are based on estimated activity. But static budgets generally are less useful in turbulent times. Rolling budgets are more flexible. Rather than leaving a budget in place for the year, organizations with rolling budgets set periodic dates to readjust the numbers. For example, you might budget four quarters ahead. At the end of each quarter, you would update the budgets for the next three quarters and add...[ Read More ]
If you made large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year, it’s important to determine whether you’re required to file a 2021 gift tax return. And in some cases, even if it’s not required to file one, it may be beneficial to do so anyway. Who must file? The annual gift tax exclusion has increased in 2022 to $16,000 but was $15,000 for 2021. Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2021 if, during the tax year, you made gifts: That exceeded the $15,000-per-recipient gift tax annual exclusion for 2021 (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse), That you wish to split with your spouse to take advantage of your combined $30,000 annual exclusion for 2021, That exceeded the $159,000 annual exclusion in 2021 for gifts to a noncitizen spouse, To a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’...[ Read More ]