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 everything The solution is relatively simple: Regularly review your job descriptions to ensure they’re current and comprehensive. Check to see whether they list outdated procedures or other outmoded elements, such as software that you’ve since phased out. If you don’t already have written job descriptions for each position, don’t panic. Ask employees in those jobs to document their responsibilities and everyday duties. Each worker’s manager should then verify and, if necessary, help revise the description. Turn information into improvements After you have updated your job descriptions, you can use them to increase organizational efficiency. Weed out the...[ Read More ]
Not-for-profit board officers, directors, trustees and key employees must avoid conflicts of interest because it’s their duty to do so. Any direct or indirect financial interest in a transaction or arrangement that might benefit one of these individuals personally could result in the loss of your organization’s tax-exempt status — and its reputation Here’s a quick checklist to gauge whether your nonprofit is doing what it takes to avoid conflicts of interest: Do you have a conflict-of-interest policy in place that specifies what constitutes a conflict and lists exceptions? Do you require board officers, directors, trustees and key employees to annually pledge to disclose interests, relationships and financial holdings that could result in a conflict of interest? Do they understand that they must speak up if issues arise that could pose a possible conflict? Do you provide training in conflicts of interest? Do you have procedures in place that outline...[ Read More ]
Many employers use background checks as a regular part of their hiring processes. But “many” does not mean “all.” In fact, recent research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management indicates smaller businesses tend to skip this important hiring step. Among companies with fewer than 100 employees, fewer than half conduct criminal background checks on job candidates vs. 83% for employers with at least 2,500 employees. If yours is a smaller organization, you may understandably feel pressured to hire good candidates quickly. After all, you don’t have the hiring resources of a larger organization and might really need the help. But, in today’s complex and often litigious working world, background checks remain highly advisable. Here are three good reasons to conduct them: 1. To protect yourself legally. Among the various legal risks you face is being accused of “negligent hiring.” This is a legal concept used in lawsuits against...[ Read More ]
Normally when appreciated business assets such as real estate are sold, tax is owed on the appreciation. But there’s a way to defer this tax: a Section 1031 “like kind” exchange. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduces the types of property eligible for this favorable tax treatment. What is a like-kind exchange? Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows you to defer gains on real or personal property used in a business or held for investment if, instead of selling it, you exchange it solely for property of a “like kind.” Thus, the tax benefit of an exchange is that you defer tax and, thereby, have use of the tax savings until you sell the replacement property. This technique is especially flexible for real estate, because virtually any type of real estate will be considered to be of a like kind, as long as it’s business...[ Read More ]
Home ownership is a key element of the American dream for many, and the U.S. tax code includes many tax breaks that help support this dream. If you own a home, you may be eligible for several valuable breaks when you file your 2017 return. But under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, your home-related breaks may not be as valuable when you file your 2018 return next year. 2017 vs. 2018 Here’s a look at various home-related tax breaks for 2017 vs. 2018: Property tax deduction. For 2017, property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). For 2018, your total deduction for all state and local taxes, including both property taxes and either income taxes or sales taxes, is capped at $10,000. Mortgage interest deduction. For 2017, you generally can deduct interest on up to a combined total of $1 million of mortgage debt...[ Read More ]
Are you a high-income small-business owner who doesn’t currently have a tax-advantaged retirement plan set up for yourself? A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) may be just what you need, and now may be a great time to establish one. A SEP has high contribution limits and is simple to set up. Best of all, there’s still time to establish a SEP for 2017 and make contributions to it that you can deduct on your 2017 income tax return. 2018 deadlines for 2017 A SEP can be set up as late as the due date (including extensions) of your income tax return for the tax year for which the SEP is to first apply. That means you can establish a SEP for 2017 in 2018 as long as you do it before your 2017 return filing deadline. You have until the same deadline to make 2017 contributions and still claim a...[ Read More ]
Not-for-profit boards can vary widely, with different responsibilities and expectations for their members. The structure, for example, can be anything from a less-involved group that takes its direction from the organization’s leader, to a fully functioning, hands-on board that essentially runs the nonprofit, to boards that fit somewhere in between. The right board structure depends largely on what your nonprofit needs and where it is in its life cycle. 3 types The most common types of nonprofit boards are: 1. Policy. Policy boards are dedicated to oversight and governance. They’re appropriate for nonprofits that are staffed by employees or volunteers. Day-to-day duties are handled by those individuals, and the board provides a system of checks and balances that keeps the organization on track. 2. Working. These boards often are found in early-stage organizations or in nonprofits where there’s plenty to do, but not enough hands to do it. Members of working boards...[ Read More ]
Over time, many business owners develop a sixth sense: They learn how to “read” a financial statement by computing financial ratios and comparing them to the company’s results over time and against those of competitors. Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you benchmark your company’s performance in three critical areas. 1. Liquidity “Liquid” companies have sufficient current assets to meet their current obligations. Cash is obviously the most liquid asset, followed by marketable securities, receivables and inventory. Working capital — the difference between current assets and current liabilities — is one way to measure liquidity. Other KPIs that assess liquidity include working capital as a percentage of total assets and the current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities). A more rigorous benchmark is the acid (or quick) test, which excludes inventory and prepaid assets from the equation. 2. Profitability When it comes to measuring profitability,...[ Read More ]
The number of taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal tax return — and, thus, are eligible to deduct charitable contributions — is estimated by the Tax Policy Center to drop from 37% in 2017 to 16% in 2018. That’s because the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) substantially raises the standard deduction. Many not-for-profit organizations are understandably worried about how this change will affect donations. But this isn’t the only TCJA provision that affects nonprofits. Donors have fewer incentives In addition to reducing smaller-scale giving by shrinking the pool of people who itemize, the TCJA might discourage major contributions. The law doubles the estate tax exemption to $10 million (indexed for inflation) through 2025. Some wealthy individuals who make major gifts to shrink their taxable estates won’t need to donate as much to reduce or eliminate their potential estate tax. UBIT takes a bigger bite The new...[ Read More ]
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 2017 Forms W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees. Provide copies of 2017 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required. File 2017 Forms 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation payments in Box 7 with the IRS. File Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return,” for 2017. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it’s more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited...[ Read More ]