They say one of the great perks about getting married are the tax benefits, but you have a bit of paperwork to do first. Since this is the time of year for many couples to tie the knot, we put together some post-marriage tips to help you avoid stress at tax time. And if you’re getting married this year – congratulations from all of us at Dagley & Co.!
- Notify the Social Security Administration − Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so that your name and SSN will match when filing your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s Web site, by calling 800-772-1213, or at local offices. Your income tax refund may be delayed if it is discovered your name and SSN don’t match at the time your return is filed.
- Notify the IRS – If you have a new address, you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address.
- Notify the U.S. Postal Service – You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so that any IRS or state tax agency correspondence can be forwarded.
- Review Your Withholding and Estimated Tax Payments – If both you and your new spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket, and you may have an unpleasant surprise when we prepare your return for 2015. On the other hand, if only one of you works, filing jointly with your new spouse can provide a significant tax benefit, enabling you to reduce your withholding or estimated payments. In either case, it may be appropriate to review your withholding (W-4 status) and estimated tax payments, if any, for 2015 to make sure that you are not going to be under-withheld and that you don’t set yourself up to receive bad news for the next filing season.
- Notify the Marketplace – If you or your spouse has health insurance through a government Marketplace (Exchange), you must notify the Marketplace of your change in marital status. If you were included on a parent’s health insurance policy through a Marketplace, then the parent must notify the Marketplace. Failure to notify the Marketplace can create tax filing problems.
If you have any questions about the impact of your new marital status on your taxes, or you want an accountant to handle your new household taxes and expenses, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.
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In recognition of the five-year anniversary of healthcare reform, we have put together a list of five things you should know about some of the key ACA requirements for businesses in 2015. It has been five years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA) was signed into law. Healthcare reform has certainly been controversial, but this controversy does not absolve some businesses of certain responsibilities when it comes to offering minimum essential healthcare coverage to their employees.
- The shared responsibility provision of healthcare reform is effective either this year or next year, depending on how many employees you have. Also known as the employer mandate or “play or pay,” this provision requires companies with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees to offer minimum essential healthcare coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents. Or, such businesses — which are referred to by the law as applicable large employers (ALEs) — can pay a substantial non-deductible penalty if they prefer.
Companies with 100 or more full-time employees (or full-time equivalents) must begin complying with the shared responsibility provision this year. Specifically, they must offer qualifying healthcare coverage to 70 percent or more of their full-time employees and their dependents this year and 95 percent of them in 2016. Meanwhile, companies with between 50 and 99 full-time employees or equivalents must begin complying with the shared responsibility provision next year.
- Depending on the size of your business, you might not be subject to the shared responsibility provision at all. There’s good news in the ACA for many small businesses. Companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees or equivalents are not subject to the shared responsibility this year or next year. However, if these businesses want to offer healthcare coverage to their employees, they can buy coverage on the Small Business Health Options Marketplace, or SHOP. This marketplace could lower small firms’ health insurance costs by giving them more buying power.
- The healthcare coverage your business provides employees under the ACA must meet certain criteria. Specifically, this coverage must be affordable and it must provide minimum value. Healthcare reform considers coverage to be “affordable” if employees’ share of their premiums doesn’t exceed 9.56 percent of their annual household income in 2015. And it considers “minimum value” to be a policy that covers at least 60 percent of the cost of healthcare services.
- Your business might qualify for a tax credit for contributions you make toward employees’ premiums. Small businesses with up to 25 full-time equivalent employees could receive a tax credit of up to 50 percent toward their contributions to employees’ healthcare premiums. To qualify, your business must pay at least half of the premiums and employees’ average annual wages in 2015 cannot be more than $51,600 (adjusted each year for inflation going forward). Also, this tax credit will be reduced if you had more than 10 full-time equivalent employees last year and/or employees’ average annual wages last year were more than $25,400 (also adjusted each year for inflation going forward).
- The ACA includes requirements to report coverage information to the IRS. ALEs are required to certify that they offered full-time employees and their dependents the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential healthcare coverage by filing Form 1094-C with the IRS. In addition, they must also issue a Form 1095-C employee statement to each full-time employee. These information-reporting requirements were voluntary this year for coverage provided in 2014, but they will be required next year for coverage provided in 2015.
Be sure to contact Dagley & Co. with any questions about your company’s specific responsibilities under the ACA this year. You’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this page.
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Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers. Don’t panic if you’re one of them. Image via public domain.
It happens – you check your mailbox this time of year and there’s a little letter in there from the IRS. It will probably increase your heart rate a bit, too. Don’t panic; many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
First of all, remember that you are not alone. Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers to request payment of taxes, notify them of a change to their account, or to request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what needs to be done to satisfy the inquiry.
However, the letters also must advise you of your rights and other information required by law. Thus, these letters can become overly lengthy and sometimes difficult to understand. That is why it is important to either call us at Dagley & Co. or forward us a copy of the letter or notice so it can be reviewed and handled accordingly.
Do not procrastinate or throw the letter in a drawer hoping the issue will go away. Most of these letters are computer generated and, after a certain period of time, another letter will automatically be produced. As you might expect, each succeeding letter will become more aggressive and more difficult to deal with.
Most importantly, don’t automatically pay an amount the IRS is requesting unless you are positive it is correct. Quite often, you really do not owe the amount being billed, and it will be difficult and time consuming to get your payment back. It is good practice to have us review the notice prior to making any payment.
Unfortunately, many taxpayers are issued these letters and don’t know it because they have moved and left no forwarding address. Even though the IRS will register your address change when you file your annual tax return, that may not be timely enough, especially if your return is on extension or you are behind in your filings. It is always better to notify the IRS, and your state if applicable, that you have a new address, just as you would your family and financial and business affiliations. You may not want to receive correspondence from the IRS, but it is easier to deal with the first notice. The complications can only increase as the notices go unanswered. The IRS provides Form 8822– Change of Address for taxpayers who have relocated between tax filings.
It is important for any IRS correspondence to be dealt with promptly and correctly. Dagley & Co. can handle these matters for you; so please call or email us for assistance. It doesn’t matter where you are located; we have clients all over the globe.
You shouldn’t have to wrestle your customers for payments owed to you. Here are some tips for smooth invoicing. Image via public domain.
A wise businessman once said, “a sale isn’t a sale until you’ve collected payment — it’s just a loan.”
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know how true this quote is. Many small businesses that were profitable on paper have gone bankrupt waiting for payments from customers to arrive.
This makes accounts receivable (AR) collections one of the most important tasks for small business owners. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most neglected. Here are eight strategies you can implement to help boost your AR collections and improve your cash flow:
- Make sure your invoices are clear and accurate. If invoices are vague, ambiguous or flat-out wrong, this is sure to delay customer payments as they call to try to get things straightened out. In short, you don’t want to give customers a reason not to pay your invoices quickly. We recommend QuickBooks to our clients for clear, accurate invoicing.
- Create an AR aging report. This report will track and list the current payment status of all your client accounts (e.g., 0-30 days, 30-60 days, 60-90 days, 90+ days). This will tell you which clients are current in their payments and which clients are past due so you know where to focus your collection efforts. To go on our earlier point, QuickBooks is great because it automatically does this for you.
- Give a bookkeeping employee responsibility for AR collections. If collecting accounts receivable isn’t the main responsibility of one specific employee, it will probably fall by the wayside as other tasks crowd it out. Therefore, make one of your bookkeeping employees primarily responsible for this task.
- Move quickly on past-due accounts. Don’t delay taking action once a client’s account reaches the past-due stage. Studies have revealed that the likelihood of collecting past-due receivables drops drastically the longer they go uncollected. Your designated bookkeeping employee should start making collections efforts the day after an account becomes past due.
- Plan your collections strategy carefully. Decide ahead of time how you will approach late-paying clients. For example, a friendly reminder call and/or email from your designated bookkeeping employee is probably a good first collection step. If this doesn’t get results, you can proceed to more aggressive steps such as sending past due notices and dunning letters.
- Consider offering a payment plan. Sometimes, customers have legitimate reasons why they can’t pay their invoices on time. Maybe the customer is having temporary cash flow problems and wants to pay you but simply can’t right now. In this scenario, you might consider working out a payment plan that allows the customer to pay the balance due over a period of time. The agreement should be made in writing and signed by both parties.
- Hire a collection agency. If all of these steps fail to resolve a collection problem, you might have to turn to a collection agency as a last resort. However, this is a serious step that should not be taken lightly, since it will probably jeopardize your relationship with the customer. Decide whether or not collecting the past-due amount is worth possibly losing the customer. Also keep in mind that the collection agency will keep a large percentage of the amount collected.
- Hire Dagley & Co. We are here to help if you have customers that are falling behind. Sometimes it’s best to have a third party go after late bills, and we can handle the correspondence in a way that is professional so that you can keep your personal relationship with your clients and customers upbeat.
Very few small businesses can afford not to make AR collections a top priority. Following these eight steps will help you improve your collections — and these improvements will boost both your cash flow and your bottom line.
With summer just around the corner, there is a tax break that working parents should know about. Many working parents must arrange for care of their children under 13 years of age (or any age if handicapped) during the school vacation period. A popular solution — with a tax benefit — is a day camp program. The cost of day camp can count as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit. Just be careful; expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.
For an expense to qualify for the credit, it must be an “employment-related” expense; i.e., it must enable you and your spouse, if married, to work, and it must be for the care of your child, stepchild, or foster child, or your brother or sister or stepsibling (or a descendant of any of these) who is under 13, lives in your home for more than half the year and does not provide more than half of his or her own support for the year. Married couples must file jointly and both spouses must work (or one spouse must be a full-time student or disabled) to claim the credit.
The qualifying expenses are limited to the income you or your spouse, if married, earns from work, using the figure for whomever of you earns less. However, under certain conditions, when one spouse has no actual earned income and that spouse is a full-time student or disabled, that spouse is considered to have a monthly income of $250 (if the couple has one qualifying child) or $500 (two or more qualifying children). This means the income limitation is essentially removed for a spouse who is a student or disabled.
The qualifying expenses can’t exceed $3,000 per year if you have one qualifying child, while the limit is $6,000 per year for two or more qualifying persons. This limit does not need to be divided equally. For example, if you paid and incurred $2,500 of qualified expenses for the care of one child and $3,500 for the care of another child, you can use the total, $6,000, to figure the credit. The credit is computed as a percentage of your qualifying expenses; in most cases, 20%. (If your joint adjusted gross income [AGI] is $43,000 or less, the percentage will be higher, but will not exceed 35%.)
Example: Al and Janice both work, each with earned income in excess of $40,000 per year. Janice’s job is a part-time job, which coincides with their 11-year-old daughter, Susan’s, school hours. However, during the school summer vacation period, they place Susan in a day camp program that costs $4,000. Since the expense limitation for one child is $3,000, their child credit would be $600 (20% of $3,000).
The credit reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill dollar for dollar. Thus, in the above example, Al and Janice pay $600 less in taxes by virtue of the credit. However, the credit can only offset income tax and alternative minimum tax liability and any excess is not refundable. The credit cannot be used to reduce self-employment tax or the taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act.
If you have questions about how the childcare credit applies to your particular tax situation, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co. You’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this screen.
If you are the owner of a small business, like many of the clients we work with at Dagley & Co., we know that you are endlessly busy. Between keeping track of the day-to-day requirements and monitoring growth and profit, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and that means you might neglect important recordkeeping that will help you in the long term. Here are five helpful hints that will make accounting easier and make sure that you don’t miss any milestones or deadlines.
1. Business and personal expenses should be kept separate.
It’s easy to make the mistake of using your business credit card for personal expenses and vice versa, and those errors can always be amended through reimbursements and revised record-keeping, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time, trouble and aggravation if you keep the two types of expenses completely segregated from the start.
2. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of your taxes – hire a tax professional.
If you’re smart enough to run your own business, it’s natural to assume that you can save yourself the expense of hiring a tax professional to file your taxes. The truth is that there’s a lot more to accounting then filling in forms, and a tax professional will be familiar with deductions you don’t realize you’re entitled to take, or inform you of an underpayment that might lead to trouble down the road. Plus, your accountant/CPA (like Dan Dagley) might end up saving you a lot of money!
3. Be realistic about upcoming expenses.
When things are moving along swimmingly, it’s natural to assume that the status quo will remain, but you need to be realistic and anticipate that office equipment will wear down or need to be upgraded, staffing needs will change, and overhead costs are unlikely to remain the same. By planning for future major expenses and setting aside funding for those eventualities, you will save yourselves many headaches in the future.
4. Don’t forget your employees when calculating expenses
A lot of business owners will sit down to forecast their expenses or try to figure out where their money is going, but forget to give proper weight to the amount that they are spending on staffing expenses such as insurance, health care and payroll taxes. Your employees are generally one of your biggest assets, so it’s important that when you’re calculating costs, you make sure that you haven’t forgotten about all of the expenses involved with keeping them, as well as with expanding.
5. Don’t lose sight of your Accounts Receivables
If you were an employee of a business that failed to give you a paycheck, you’d be more than just upset – you’d take action to make sure that you get paid. Yet many owners of small businesses get so enmeshed in the minutia and big decisions of their day-to-day operations that they lose track of whether clients are paying promptly and what percentage of invoices remain open! Getting behind on your record keeping regarding accounts receivables lets things get so far behind that it becomes costly and difficult to collect, and you may end up not getting paid or creating negative feelings. Track payments as they come in, note how far behind payments due are, and take note of which clients are presenting you with collection problems. We at Dagley & Co. highly recommend QuickBooks to help you keep track of your accounts receivables (and no, we’re not paid to say that!).
These tips are straightforward and simple, and following them can make a significant difference in your ability to keep your business on track, to keep your forecasts accurate, and to allow you to take action when it’s needed. For more information on other steps you can take, contact us at Dagley & Co. to make an appointment for a consultation. We are also here to help you manage your QuickBooks set-up, billing, payroll and more, thereby giving you more time to do what you do best: grow your business!
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Entrepreneurs and business owners know that there are more to taxes than what goes down on April 15th. Below are a few tax dates which businesses owners should keep in mind. If you need any assistance hitting these deadlines or would like more information, our contact information is at the bottom of the screen.
June 15 – Employer’s Monthly Deposit Due
If you are an employer and the monthly deposit rules apply, June 15 is the due date for you to make your deposit of Social Security, Medicare and withheld income tax for May 2015. This is also the due date for the non-payroll withholding deposit for May 2015 if the monthly deposit rule applies.
June 15 – Corporations
Deposit the second installment of estimated income tax for 2015 for calendar year corporations.
June 30 – Taxpayers with Foreign Financial Interests
A U.S. citizen or resident, or a person doing business in the United States, who has a financial interest in or signature or other authority over any foreign financial accounts (bank, securities or other types of financial accounts), in a foreign country, is required to file Form FinCEN 114 with the Department of the Treasury (not the IRS). The form must be filed with the Treasury Department no later than June 30, 2015 for 2014. No extension of time to file is permitted. The form must be filed electronically; paper forms are not allowed. This filing requirement applies only if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during 2014. Contact our office for additional information and assistance filing this form.
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