• Are You and Your Business at Risk for a Trust Fund Penalty?

    15 December 2015
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    Don’t even think about keeping those withheld amounts for your company!

    Hold on, this article is not about silver spooned “trust fund babies,” but something entirely different. When an employer withholds Social Security and income taxes from an employee, those funds are the property of the government, and the employer must hold those funds in “trust” until the funds are turned over to the government. Failure to do so could lead to the so-called trust fund penalty, which is equal to 100% of the withholding from the employees’ wages. The penalty applies to any willful failure to collect, account for and pay over Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld from employee wages.

    A recent report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has made recommendations to the IRS for timely assessing and collecting the responsible person penalty, and the IRS is adopting the recommendations. The government has always been very aggressive about collecting trust fund penalties and will pursue collecting the penalty from the “responsible person.” This is where you may be at risk.

    The IRS broadly defines a “responsible person” to include corporate officers, directors, and shareholders under a duty to collect and pay the tax as well as a partnership’s partners, or any employee of the business under such a duty.

    So if you are a person with the power to see that the taxes are paid, you may be responsible. Frequently more than one person is a responsible person, and each one is at risk for the entire penalty. Even though you may not be directly involved with the withholding process, if you discover that trust funds that are due to the government are instead being used to pay a business creditor, you become a “responsible person.” You always have to keep in mind that the trust fund money belongs to the government, and bowing to business pressures to pay bills or obtain supplies instead of transmitting the withheld taxes to the government will be viewed as willful (bad) behavior for purposes of the penalty.

    Unlike some other types of penalties, there are no acceptable excuses for failure to withhold the required payroll taxes or for borrowing withheld amounts to pay other expenses. Even if you have a payroll company collecting and paying over the withholding, and that firm should go belly up, or someone in that firm absconds with the trust finds, guess who is still responsible for paying the government? The responsible person at the business, of course!

    Don’t fall victim to the penalty by allowing a partner or corporate superior to persuade you not to withhold or timely pay over the trust funds to the government. If you are interested in discussing your potential risks and exposure to this penalty, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.

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  • December 2015 Tax Due Dates for Individuals

    8 December 2015
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    December

    Have a merry month – and not a stressful month – with these December tax deadline tips from Dagley & Co! Image via public domain.

    December  – Time for Year-End Tax Planning

    December is the month to take final actions to affect your 2015 taxes. Taxpayers with substantial increases or decreases in income, changes in marital status or dependent status, and those who sold property during 2015 should get in touch with us at Dagley & Company for a tax planning consultation appointment. In case you need more reasons, do read our special post from Black Friday about why we may be the perfect accounting firm for you!

    December 10 – Report Tips to Employer

    If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during November, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than December 10. Your employer is required to withhold FICA taxes and income tax withholding for these tips from your regular wages. If your regular wages are insufficient to cover the FICA and tax withholding, the employer will report the amount of the uncollected withholding in box 12 of your W-2 for the year. You will be required to pay the uncollected withholding when your return for the year is filed.

    December 31 – Last Day to Make Mandatory IRA Withdrawals

    Last day to withdraw funds from a Traditional IRA Account and avoid a penalty if you turned age 70½ before 2015. If the institution holding your IRA will not be open on December 31, you will need to arrange for withdrawal before that date.

    December 31 – Last Day to Pay Deductible Expenses for 2015

    Last day to pay deductible expenses for the 2015 return (doesn’t apply to IRA, SEP or Keogh contributions, all of which can be made after December 31, 2015). Taxpayers who are making state estimated payments may find it advantageous to prepay the January state estimated tax payment in December (Please call the office for more information).

    December 31 – Where did the time go?! Last Day of the Year!

    If the actions you wish to take cannot be completed on the 31st or a single day, you should consider taking action earlier than December 31st.

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  • Save on Black Friday: Hire Dagley & Company!

    27 November 2015
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    Daley & Co

    On this hot, hot hot shopping and sales weekend, you may be looking everywhere for the best Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals. There’s another way to save yourself a lot of money – potentially thousands of dollars – and that is by hiring an accountant from Dagley & Company to do the taxes of you, your family, and/or your small business.

    For starters, our founder, Dan Dagley, has an exceptional track record with taxes and clients. He was a top-10 CPA with TurboTax’s Pro program, which is currently undergoing a makeover. You can read hundreds of his glowing reviews on our testimonials page. If you miss this TurboTax Pro service, Dagley & Company can help fill your need. Get started by getting in touch with us; you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this screen.

    If you’re one of those people who has never filed for taxes and hasn’t heard from the IRS, then it’s probably because you’re leaving money on the table. Each year, the IRS reports about $1 billion in unclaimed refunds for individuals who did not file a tax return – and about half of them are for amounts greater than $600! You could literally turn a profit simply by dropping us an email, so what are you waiting for?

    Many people are handy at filing their own taxes, but our clients who decide to pivot to our team are consistently amazed at the money they save. It’s unlikely that you know all of the tax credits and benefits you are entitled to! There are credits for those who generate their own renewable energy, there are credits for those paying for education, there are credits for those who are taking care of elderly/disabled relatives, there are tax deductions for start-up businesses, and so many more. Let us sit down with you to see just how much of your own money you’re entitled to keep this year.

    Finally, Dagley & Company is about as convenient as it gets. Yes, we are located in Washington, D.C., but we serve clients all over the United States, as well as a few scattered all over the globe. Best case scenario for you and us is you keep good records on Quickbooks or another digital program, and we can help you file the most accurate, succinct tax forms you’ve ever seen. Whether you prefer email or a personal phone call, we’re here to work with you to save you time and money.

    We hope this has helped you make a decision about the best way to file your taxes – and happy shopping on this Black Friday!

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  • How To Claim a Disaster Loss On Your Taxes

    18 November 2015
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    It’s been a wild year, weather-wise! With flooding on the East Coast and the wild fires and draught in the West, we have had a number of presidentially declared disaster areas this year. If you were an unlucky victim and suffered a loss as a result of a casualty, your luck may change as you may be able to recoup a portion of that loss through a tax deduction. If the casualty occurred within a federally declared disaster area, you can elect to claim the loss in one of two years: the tax year in which the loss occurred or the immediately preceding year.

    By taking the deduction for a 2015 disaster area loss on the prior year (2014) return, you may be able to get a refund from the IRS before you even file your tax return for 2015, the loss year. You have until the unextended due date of the 2015 return to file an amended 2014 return to claim the disaster loss. Before making the decision to claim the loss in 2014, you should consider which year’s return would produce the greater tax benefit, as opposed to your desire for a quicker refund.

    If you elect to claim the loss on either your 2014 original or amended return, you can generally expect to receive the refund within a matter of weeks, which can help to pay some of your repair costs.

    If the casualty loss, net of insurance reimbursement, is extensive enough to offset all of the income on the return, whether the loss is claimed on the 2014 or 2015 return, and results in negative income, you may have what is referred to as a net operating loss (NOL). When there is an NOL, the unused loss can be carried back two years and then carried forward until it is all used up (but not more 20 years), or you can elect to only carry the unused loss forward.

    Determining the more beneficial year in which to claim the loss requires a careful evaluation of your entire tax picture for both years, including filing status, amount of income and other deductions, and the applicable tax rates. The analysis should also consider the effect of a potential NOL.

    Ordinarily, casualty losses are deductible only to the extent they exceed $100 plus 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Thus, a year with a larger amount of AGI will cut into your allowable loss deduction and can be a factor when choosing which year to claim the loss.

    For verification purposes, keep copies of local newspaper articles and/or photos that will help prove that your loss was caused by the specific disaster.

    As strange as it may seem, a casualty might actually result in a gain. This sometimes occurs when insurance proceeds exceed the tax basis of the destroyed property. When a gain materializes, there are ways to exclude or postpone the tax on the gain.

    If you need further information on casualty and disaster losses, your particular options for claiming the loss, or if you wish to amend your 2014 return to claim your 2015 loss, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.

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  • Dagley & Co’s Six Best Practices in Billings and Collections

    5 November 2015
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    Get organized, and get paid! Image via public domain

    Have a small business? One area where you can improve cash flow is in billings and collections. Getting paid late can often hurt a business, and there are ways to get paid faster so you can keep growing. Here are six best practices that can make a real difference in your cash balance at the end of every month.

    1. Get it right.

    One legitimate reason for nonpayment is a confusing or inaccurate invoice. Make sure your invoices spell out in clear, plain English what was purchased, the price, when payment is due, the customer’s PO number, when it was shipped, to where it was shipped, and any tracking number. We highly recommend QuickBooks for all of our clients for easy invoicing and payments.

    You may also want to tighten your sales process. Don’t start work without a formal PO from your business customers—many companies won’t pay against a verbal PO. When you receive a PO, make sure that it matches your quotation. Companies often put their payment terms on their paperwork, so if your customer tries to play this game, resolve any discrepancies before you start work.

    Finally, make certain every shipment and invoice is 100% correct. Set up processes to assure the customer gets exactly what was ordered and that invoices are equally accurate.

    2. Get it out.

    See that four-day-old pile of shipping papers waiting to be invoiced? That’s a pile of cash you can’t collect.

    Set a goal to issue all invoices within one working day of the ship date or completion of work. If your team struggles to meet this, give them the tools and/or manpower to make it happen. And if an invoice gets held up internally, make sure your supervision is immediately notified so the problem can be quickly resolved.

    To further speed payments, try to invoice your customers by email. Some won’t accept emailed invoices, but getting even a portion of your billing done electronically will help overall cash flow.

    3. Get it to the right person.

    How many times has one of your employees called about a past-due payment and been told “we didn’t receive your invoice” or “that needs to be approved by the department manager”? It’s another game, one that can take weeks to play out. As part of getting an accurate customer PO, make sure your sales staff gets a valid address for invoicing.

    Large sales deserve special attention. Where applicable, have your salesperson get the contact information for the customer employee that will approve payment. This might be a department or plant manager and maybe even the business owner. Also get the contact information for the customer’s finance-side people (accounting manager, accounts payable clerk), who will cut and approve the check. When your invoice goes out, make sure they all get a copy.

    4. Get it sooner.

    Offer a discount for early payment—for example, 2% off for payment within 10 days. Not all of your customers will take advantage of this, but it’s a great way to pull cash in.

    5. Get friendly.

    The best way to get paid on time is to build a positive working relationship with your customer before the money is due.

    Have your salesperson call his or her customer contacts shortly after the invoice goes out. Confirm the product has been received or affirm that your assignment is now complete. Ask them if they’re satisfied with your work, what you can do better to improve, and if they’ve received your invoice. This communicates (in a nice way) that it’s time to start the payment process. If these calls uncover problems, it’s an opportunity to address them on the spot as opposed to when payment is past due.

    Your employee responsible for collections should also make a call—in this case, to the customer’s finance-side people. Your employee should confirm the receipt of your invoice, remind them of any discounts for early payment, and check whether there are any administrative problems with the document. They should not ask for a payment date. If possible, they should also try to get to know their counterparts. A simple “How’s the weather where you are?” is a great opening that can lead to a long conversations about, well, everything. Your customer’s payables team can be your best friend later in the collections process, but it won’t happen if you have not built a working relationship.

    There’s one other person who needs to get friendly: you, the business owner or general manager. As your company develops large customers make sure you get to know your customer counterparts. A phone call from you asking “How’s my team doing?” is a great way to initiate a conversation and assure customer satisfaction. For very large projects, make a face-to-face visit. It will pay off later. If the time comes when a payment problem needs to be escalated, you will have an established relationship on which to call.

    6. Make it fun.

    Some companies take the “get friendly” notion to the next level. From putting silly “Thank You!” notes on their invoices, to handing out promotional swag, to sending little stuffed animals for on-time payment, it’s amazing how these goofy gimmicks can change the atmosphere around the collection process.

    You want your customer to smile and shake his head as he signs the check to pay your bill. And if the day comes when your customer needs to decide whom to pay and whom to put off, chances are he will pay you first.

    In Closing

    What about the actual collections process? Good companies contact their customers if a payment is more than five working days late. You should do the same.

    What’s different is that you’ve laid the foundation for a successful endgame. Any excuses for non-payment have been addressed. Your people know whom to call, and you have working contacts who will give you straight answers. Above all, you’ve strengthened the relationship with your customer and have built a basis for future business.

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  • Breaking News: IRS Releases Pension Limits For 2016

    4 November 2015
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    You’ve heard it once, and you’re hearing it again: Saving for retirement is one of the most important things a person should do. Contributing to tax-advantaged retirement plans while you are working is one of the best ways to build up that nest egg. That said, the tax law doesn’t allow unlimited annual contributions to these plans.

    If you have been wondering how much you can contribute to your retirement plans in 2016, the IRS has released the inflation-adjusted limits for next year’s contributions. Since inflation has been low this past year (according to the government’s calculation), most limits won’t increase over what they were in 2015, but some of the AGI phaseout thresholds that work to reduce allowable contributions will change. Here’s a review of the 2016 numbers:

    For 401(k) plans, the maximum contribution will be $18,000 again. If you are age 50 or over, that limit is increased by a so-called “catch-up” contribution to a maximum of $24,000, the same as in 2015. These limits also apply to 403(b) tax sheltered annuities and 457 deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations.

    Traditional IRA and Roth IRA contributions are limited to a combined total of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or over), also unchanged from 2015. However, both types of IRAs have certain income (AGI) limitations.

    When you are an “active participant” in another qualified plan, the traditional IRA contributions are only deductible by lower-income individuals, and the deductibility phases out for unmarried tax filers with AGIs between $61,000 and $70,999. For married joint filers the phaseout range is between $98,000 and $117,999. The phaseout of traditional IRA contributions starts at $0 AGI for married individuals filing separately and tops out at $10,000—essentially, MFS filers rarely qualify to contribute to an IRA if they or their spouses also participate in an employer’s plan. For married couples in which one spouse is an active participant and the other is not, the phaseout AGI limitation for the non-active participant spouse has gone up by $1,000 and is between $184,000 and $193,999.

    Roth IRA contributions are never tax deductible, although they do enjoy tax-free accumulation. However, the contribution limits are phased out for unmarried taxpayers with AGIs between $117,000 and $131,999. For married joint filers the phaseout range is between $184,000 and $193,999. Each of these amounts reflects a $1,000 increase for 2016. Married individuals filing separately are not allowed Roth IRA contributions if their AGI is $10,000 or more. The AGI phaseouts will limit the contributions you can make to a Roth IRA even if you do not participate in an employer’s plan or other qualified plan. Unlike traditional IRAs, contributions to which cannot be made after you reach age 70½, contributions can be made to a Roth IRA as long as you have earned income of an equal amount.

    If you are self-employed and have a self-employed retirement plan (SEP), the maximum contribution is the lessor of $53,000 (the same limit as for 2015) or 20% of the net earnings from self-employment; contributions are allowed regardless of age. If your retirement plan is a profit-sharing Keogh plan, the limitations are the same. For defined benefit plans the amount contributed can’t create an annual benefit in excess of the greater of $210,000 or 100% of your average compensation for the highest 3 years.

    Simple IRA or Simple 401(k) plan contribution limits will be $12,500 or $15,500 for those ages 50 or over. These amounts are unchanged from 2015.

    If have questions or would like to discuss your retirement contribution options, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co! You’ll find our information at the bottom of this page.

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  • Taking Advantage of 2015 with Dagley & Co.

    28 October 2015
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    Taxes 2015

    All of us at Dagley & Co. have filed away our October 15 extended tax deadline clients, and now we’re looking at finishing the year off strong. Now is a great time to make sure you have your accounting up-to-date, as it sure will make “tax season” easier for everyone!

    If you’re in need of a an accountant for your personal or business finances, think about setting an appointment with Dagley & Co. Don’t just take our word for it: read all of our glowing reviews from our clients over the last two years!

    Solid tax savings can be realized by taking advantage of tax breaks that are still on the books for 2015.

    For individuals and small businesses, these include:

    • Capital Gains and Losses – You can employ several strategies to suit your particular tax circumstances. If your income is low this year and your tax bracket is 15% or lower, you can take advantage of the zero percent capital gains bracket benefit, resulting in no tax for part or all of your long-term gains. Others, affected by the market downturn earlier this year, should review their portfolio with an eye to offsetting gains with losses and take advantage of the $3,000 ($1,500 for married taxpayers filing separately) allowable annual capital loss allowance. Any losses in excess of those amounts are carried forward to future years.
    • Roth IRA Conversions – If your income is unusually low this year, you may wish to consider converting your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. Even if your income is at your normal level, with the recent decline in the stock markets, the current value of your Traditional IRA may be low, which provides you an opportunity to convert it into a Roth IRA at a lower tax amount. Thereafter, future increases in value would be tax-free when you retire.
    • Recharacterizing a Roth Conversion – If you converted assets in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier in the year, the value of those assets may have declined due to this summer’s market drop; and, as a result, you will end up paying more taxes than necessary on the higher conversion-date valuation. However, you may undo that conversion by recharacterizing it, which is accomplished by transferring the converted amount (plus earnings, or minus losses) from the Roth IRA back to a traditional IRA. This must be done via a trustee-to-trustee transfer. You can later (generally after 30 days) reconvert to a Roth IRA.
    • Don’t Forget Your Minimum Required Distribution – If you have reached age 70 1/2, you must make required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA, 401(k) plan and other employer-sponsored retirement plans. Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn.
    • Take Advantage of the Annual Gift Tax Exemption – Although gifts do not currently provide a tax deduction, you can give up to $14,000 in 2015 to each of an unlimited number of individuals without incurring any gift tax. There’s no carryover from this year to next year of unused exemptions.
    • Expensing Allowance (Sec 179 Deduction) – Businesses should consider making expenditures that qualify for the business property expensing option. For tax years beginning in 2015, the expensing limit is $25,000. That means that businesses that make timely purchases will be able to currently deduct most, if not all, of the outlays for machinery and equipment. Note: There is a good chance the Congress will increase that limit before year’s end and after this newsletter has gone to press, so watch for further developments.
    • Self-employed Retirement Plans – If you are self-employed and haven’t done so yet, you may wish to establish a self-employed retirement plan. Certain types of plans must be established before the end of the year to make you eligible to deduct contributions made to the plan for 2015, even if the contributions aren’t made until 2016. You may also qualify for the pension start-up credit.
    • Increase Basis – If you own an interest in a partnership or S corporation that is going to show a loss in 2015, you may want to increase your investment in the entity so you can deduct the loss, which is limited to your basis in the entity.

    Also keep in mind when considering year-end tax strategies that many of the tax breaks allowed for calculating regular taxes are disallowed for alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes. These include deduction for property taxes on your residence, state income taxes, miscellaneous itemized deductions, and personal exemption deductions. Other deductions, such as for mortgage interest, are calculated in a more restrictive way for AMT purposes than for regular tax purposes. As a result, accelerating payment of these expenses that would normally be made in early 2016 to 2015 should – in some cases – not be done.

    We hope you will consider Dagley & Co. as the tax season approaches. You’ll find our contact information at the bottom of this screen.

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  • The Risks Associated With A Sole Proprietorship

    22 September 2015
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    If you want to start a business, you’re probably about get down and dirty with the registration process. The simplest and least expensive form of business is a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is a one-person business that reports its income directly on the individual’s personal tax return (Form 1040) using a Schedule C. There is no need to file a separate tax return as is required by a partnership or corporation (if the business is set up as an LLC with just one member, filing is still done on Schedule C, although an LLC return may also be required by the state). Generally, there are very few bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get started.

    However, we strongly recommend that you open a checking account that is used solely for depositing business income and paying business expenses. You will also need to check and see if there is a need to register for a local government business license and permit (if required for your business).

    If you are conducting a retail business, you will need to obtain a resale permit and collect and remit local and state sales taxes.

    If you hire employees, you will need to set up payroll withholding and remit payroll taxes to the government. Before you can do that, however, you’ll need to apply to the IRS for an employer identification number (EIN) because you can’t just use your Social Security number for payroll tax purposes. An EIN can be obtained online at the IRS web site or by completing a paper Form SS-4 and submitting it to the IRS.

    As a sole proprietor, you can also very simply set aside tax-deductible contributions for your retirement.

    Example: Paul has been working for a computer firm as an installation specialist but has decided to go out on his own. Unless he sets up a partnership, LLC or corporation, Paul is automatically classified as a sole proprietor. He does not need to file any legal paperwork. His business is automatically classified and treated as a sole proprietorship in the eyes of the IRS and his state government.

    However, there is a big downside to conducting business as a sole proprietor, and that drawback is liability. Sole proprietors are 100% personally liable for all business debts and legal claims. As an example, in the case that a customer or vendor has an accident and is injured on your business property and then sues, you the owner are responsible for paying any resulting court award. Thus, all your assets, both business and personal, can be taken by a court order and sold to repay business debts and judgments.  That would include your car, home, bank accounts and other personal assets.

    Other forms of business, such as LLCs and corporations, can protect your personal assets from business liabilities. If you feel that your business is susceptible to lawsuits and would like to explore alternative forms of business, please give Dagley & Co. a call so we can discuss the tax ramifications of the various business entities with you. If you decide on something other than a sole proprietorship, you’ll need legal assistance to formally set up your new business.

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  • September 2015 Tax Due Dates For Business Owners

    2 September 2015
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    A few days ago, you probably read our post about September tax due dates for individuals. As promised, here are the tax due dates coming up this month for business owners. Please contact us at Dagley & Co. if you need a CPA to walk you through these steps and smooth out the process. You’ll find our information at the bottom of this webpage.

    September 15 – Corporations

    File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120 or 1120-A) and pay any tax, interest, and penalties due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension.

    September 15 – S Corporations

    File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. This due date applies only if you requested an automatic 6-month extension.

    September 15 – Corporations

    Deposit the third installment of estimated income tax for 2015 for calendar year corporations.

    September 15 – Social Security, Medicare and withheld income tax

    If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

    September 15 – Nonpayroll Withholding

    If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

    September 15 – Partnerships 

    File a 2014 calendar year return (Form 1065). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension. Provide each partner with a copy of K-1 (Form 1065) or a substitute Schedule K-1.

    September 15 – Fiduciaries of Estates and Trusts

    File a 2014 calendar year return (Form 1041). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension. If applicable, provide each beneficiary with a copy of K-1 (Form 1041) or a substitute Schedule K-1.

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  • Everything You Need To Know About Balance Sheets (And Why You Need Them)

    25 August 2015
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    Alright small business owner. Let’s talk about balance sheets.

    The best way for small business owners to stay aware of their company’s financial status is to have an accurate, up-to-date balance sheet. By keeping this information up to date every quarter, you can help yourself avoid a lot of problems and surprises down the road.

    A balance sheet provides you with an at-a-glance summary of your company’s financial health as of a specific day. It is broken down into what the business’s assets are, what the business’s liabilities are, and the amount of owner or shareholder equity. The balance sheet gets its name from the fact that the assets must be balanced by and equal to the liabilities plus the equity. Some business owners have found current balance sheets so helpful that they update them every month.

    Understanding the Asset Portion of the Balance Sheet

    When entering assets onto the balance sheet, the business owner needs to include everything that is owned by the business, whether current or liquid assets, fixed assets (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fixedasset.asp), or some other type of asset. Current or liquid assets include:

    • Cash that is immediately available
    • Money that is owed to you (Accounts Receivable)
    • Products currently in stock (Inventory)
    • Expenses paid in advance, such as insurance premiums
    • Money-market accounts, investments and other securities
    • Additional monies owed to you

    Fixed assets are items that can’t be easily sold or moved, including equipment and furnishings, buildings, land and vehicles. In most cases these assets depreciate, or decrease in value. Beyond current and fixed assets, items that are intangible, such as goodwill, copyrights and patents, are also considered assets on a balance sheet. It is important to note that money that is owed to you that you expect will not be paid is classified as a Reserve for Bad Debts, which decreases the amount of the Accounts Receivable on the balance sheet.

    Understanding the Liability Portion of the Balance Sheet

    When entering liabilities onto the balance sheet, the business owner needs to include all of the business’s debts, both current and long term. Current liabilities include accounts payable, sales and payroll taxes, payments on short-term business loans such as a line of credit, and income taxes. Long-term liabilities are those that are paid over a longer period of time, generally over more than a year. These include mortgages and leases, future employee benefits, deferred taxes and long-term loans.

    Understanding the Equity Portion of the Balance Sheet

    When entering information onto the equity portion of the balance sheet, you should include the value of any capital stock that has been issued, any additional payments or capital from investors beyond the par value of the stock, and the net income that has been kept by the business rather than distributed to owners and shareholders.

    In order to be sure that all of the information on the balance sheet is correct, you can double-check your numbers by subtracting assets from liabilities – the result should equal the equity amount. For more information on how to structure a balance sheet, check out this website: “http://www.accountingcoach.com/balance-sheet/explanation/4″>sample balance sheet</a>.

    The Value of a Balance Sheet

    At first glance a balance sheet may look like an incomprehensible collection of numbers, but once you understand all of the various components and how they relate to one another, they will provide you with the opportunity to detect trends and spot issues before they become problems. Your balance sheet can alert you to:

    • Times when inventory is outpacing revenue, thus alerting you to a need for better management of your inventory and production process
    • Cash flow problems and a shortage of cash reserves
    • Inadequacies in your cash reserves that are making it difficult to invest in continued growth
    • Problems with collecting accounts receivables

    The most essential tools that are available to you as a small business owner for gauging your operation’s financial health are the balance sheet, the income statement and the cash flow statement. If you are unsure of how to prepare these documents for yourself or don’t have the time, then let a qualified professional at Dagley & Co. take over and provide the information that you need.

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