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 ]
Businesses need financial information that’s accurate, relevant and timely. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires publicly traded companies to follow U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), often considered the “gold standard” in financial reporting in the United States. But privately held companies can use simplified alternative accounting methods. What’s right for your business depends on its size, regulatory and contractual requirements, management’s future plans and the needs of its stakeholders. Menu of accounting methods Here’s an overview of the accounting methods available for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs): GAAP. This framework follows rules set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). It’s based on the accrual method of accounting, where revenues and expenses are matched to the reporting period in which they’re earned and incurred, respectively. Under this method, companies report receivables for revenue that’s earned but not yet collected and payables for expenses that are incurred but not yet paid. Prepaid (and accrued)...[ Read More ]
Low interest rates and other factors have caused global merger and acquisition (M&A) activity to reach new highs in 2021, according to Refinitiv, a provider of financial data. It reports that 2021 is set to be the biggest in M&A history, with the United States accounting for $2.14 trillion worth of transactions already this year. If you’re considering buying or selling a business — or you’re in the process of an M&A transaction — it’s important that both parties report it to the IRS and state agencies in the same way. Otherwise, you may increase your chances of being audited. If a sale involves business assets (as opposed to stock or ownership interests), the buyer and the seller must generally report to the IRS the purchase price allocations that both use. This is done by attaching IRS Form 8594, “Asset Acquisition Statement,” to each of their respective federal income tax...[ Read More ]
Internal controls are a system of policies and procedures organizations put in place to protect assets and improve operating efficiency. Effective internal controls are critical to accurate financial reporting. A solid system of controls can help prevent, detect and correct financial misstatements due to errors and fraud. Internal and external risk factors evolve over time. So, upon completion of the year-end financial statements, managers and internal auditors should reassess whether internal controls are up to snuff and brainstorm ways to solidify controls. Start your annual assessment with the following three basic controls: 1. Physical restrictions Employees only should have access to those assets necessary to perform their jobs. Locks and alarms are examples of ways to protect valuable tangible assets, including petty cash, inventory and equipment. But intangible assets — such as customer lists, lease agreements, patents and financial data — also require protection with controls including passwords, access logs...[ Read More ]
In today’s unprecedented market conditions, it can be challenging to predict metrics that underlie your company’s accounting estimates. Examples of key “unknowns” include how much longer certain pandemic issues will continue, how federal stimulus spending will affect the economy over the long run, and the extent to which tax laws and environment regulations may change under the Biden administration. Your predictions on these matters could, in turn, have a material impact on your company’s financial statements. Inaccurate predictions could lead to restatements or write-offs in future periods. Relying on estimates Accounting estimates may be based on subjective or objective information (or both) and involve some level of measurement uncertainty. Some estimates may be easily determinable, but many are inherently subjective or complex. Examples of accounting estimates include allowances for doubtful accounts, work-in-progress inventory and uncertain tax positions. Fair value measurements are another type of accounting estimate. Under U.S. Generally Accepted...[ Read More ]
Many companies are continuing to struggle financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If cash is tight, what can your business do to shorten its cash cycle? The answer could lie in your outstanding accounts receivable. Here are five strategies to help convert receivables into cash ASAP. 1. Apply for a line of credit. A line of credit can help bridge the “cash gap” between making a sale and getting paid. Often credit lines are collateralized by unpaid invoices, just like equipment and property are pledged for conventional term loans. Banks typically charge fees and interest for securitized receivables. Each financial institution sets its own rates and conditions. Typically, these arrangements provide immediate loans for up to 90% of the value of an outstanding debt and are repaid as customers pay their bills. 2. Encourage early payment. Your company may be able to expedite collections if customers are given a financial incentive to pay...[ Read More ]