Tax Benefits Of Investing in Small Corporations

Tax Benefits Of Investing in Small Corporations

 

Purchasing stock in certain qualified small businesses, not only diversifies your portfolio but also allows for preferential tax treatment. A provision in the recently signed tax extenders bill, the PATH Act, now makes owning and selling such stock even more attractive from a tax perspective.

How does 100% exclusion from gain sound to you?

The PATH Act makes permanent the exclusion of 100% of the gain on the sale or exchange of qualified small business (QSB) stock acquired and held for more than five years. The 100% exclusion is available for QSB stock acquired after September 27, 2010, with smaller exclusions are available for QSB stock acquired earlier.

The act also permanently extends the rule that eliminates QSB stock gain as a preference item for alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes.

What is Qualified Small Business Stock?

Qualified small business (QSB) stock is generally stock of a domestic C corporation that has gross assets of no more than $50 million at any time (including when the stock is issued).  The QSB must use at least 80% of its assets in an active trade or business. 

There are Many Factors to Consider

Of course tax consequences are only one of many factors that should be considered before making any investment.  Keep in mind that the tax benefits outlined here are subject to additional requirements and limits.  If you think you may have an investment that qualifies for this preferential tax treatment consult us for more help.

File Your Taxes Early to Avoid Falling Victim to Identity Theft

File Your Taxes Early to Avoid Falling Victim to Identity Theft

File Your Taxes Early to Avoid Falling Victim to Identity Theft

 

If you’re like most, you may put off filing your individual tax return until close to the April 15th deadline. But there’s another date you should keep in mind: January 19th. That’s the date the IRS began accepting 2015 returns, and filing as close to that date as possible could protect you from the hassles and complications of tax-related identity theft.

 HOW FILING EARLY HELPS PROTECT YOU

In this increasingly common scam, thieves use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns electronically and claim bogus refunds. When the real taxpayers file, they’re notified that they’re attempting to file duplicate returns.

Tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the thief who’s filing the duplicate return, not you.

ANOTHER KEY DATE TO REMEMBER

Of course you need to have all of your key tax forms in order to file. February 1st is the deadline for employers to issue 2015 W-2s to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue 1099s to recipients of any 2015 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.

 AN ADDED BONUS OF FILING EARLY

Let us know if you have questions or concerns about tax identity theft or would like to file your 2015 return now. An added bonus of filing early is enjoying your refund sooner.  If you typically owe, remember that April 15th is still the due date for all your taxes due even if you decide to file an extension.  Like we always say, an extension applies only to filing the return but NOT to paying the tax – your tax is due on or before April 15th every year!

 

Congratulations to Jennifer Todd, now Certified in QuickBooks Online 2016

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Jennifer recently updated her Intuit QuickBooks certifications to include the latest version of Intuit’s Premier cloud-based accounting system QuickBooks Online!  Jennifer has been certified in QuickBooks desktop since version 99 and she also holds certifications in QuickBooks Point of Sale as well as Microsoft Office User Specialist in Excel and PowerPoint!  Contact Jennifer today to get a primer on QuickBooks and find out how the software can best be used to achieve your financial goals!  Interested in learning more about QuickBooks Online? Check out the free test drive here.  Learn more about QBO by visiting their website here! 

Checkout the New QBO App for Desktop!

Do you like QuickBooks Online version but miss some of the desktop version’s features?  Well lucky for you, now you can have both! QuickBooks Online has grown tremendously since its introduction more than a decade ago. It’s not quite as mature as the top-of-the-line desktop versions, but it’s not far behind anymore. No matter which version of QuickBooks you first used, there may be elements of Windows functionality that you miss in the online application, like:

  • The traditional file menus,
  • Keyboard shortcuts, and
  • The ability to open the software and let it stay open all day, minimizing it when you didn’t need it.

The recently released QuickBooks Online for PC and Mac App offers all of those features. It may also be faster than the browser-based version because it loads the whole application at once and keeps the pages cached. It’s free; and here’s the download link. A Hybrid Approach  

Getting started is easy:

  • You click the download link and then install the app like you would any Windows or Mac software.
  • When the download is complete, you’ll find a new shortcut icon on your desktop’s home screen.
  • Click on it, and you can either sign into an existing account or register for a new one.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it still looks like QuickBooks Online – because it is. But if you look at the upper left of the screen, you’ll see what looks like a series of Windows desktop menus – because it is. But the menu options don’t match Windows desktop menus. Instead they’re designed to mirror the navigation tools in QuickBooks Online. The coolest part is that you can use either or both.  Exciting! Note: Windows that open when you click on one of these menu options can act in one of two ways – they can either replace the current window, which is the default in QuickBooks Online, or they can open in a new window.   To change the current setting, open the Window drop-down menu and check or un-check Menu Items Open New Windows. Multiple Updated Windows It’s not difficult to switch screens in the browser-based version of QuickBooks Online but it is time consuming if you need to consult two or three different pages. You find yourself switching back and forth and probably having to make notes about what you learned from the other screen(s).  Thankfully, the new QuickBooks Online for Windows App makes this process easier and faster.  Some navigation links now have a small arrow-in-a-box icon to their right, called a “Detach” icon. Click on one of those, and the item opens in a new window. Any changes you make in one window are automatically reflected in the other open windows.  What a time saver!

Click on the new Detach icon wherever it appears to open the page in a new window. This new functionality isn’t available everywhere in the app. You’ll see the Detach icons when you hover over transaction types by clicking on the + sign at the top of the screen, with the exception of Pay Checks, Single Time Activity, Weekly Timesheets, Pay Bills, and Statements. To open a transaction form in a new window, you must click directly on the icon. You can also open most reports in new windows; the new icons appear when you open a list of them. So if you’re looking at a report that you don’t want to close and you want to enter a related transaction, you’d simply click on the + sign and select the transaction type by clicking directly on the Detach icon. The new window opens; you fill out the form and save it, and you’re back at your report, where you can see the new entry in the report. If you have a transaction open and you want to consult a report, though, you’d need to select it from the Reports menu at the top, after making sure that the Menu Items Open New Windows entry in the Window menu was checked. And if you’re still a fan of keyboard shortcuts and miss them in QBO, you’ll find them active in the app.   

You can use dozens of keyboard shortcuts when you install the new QuickBooks app. Only an Option The QuickBooks Online for Windows App is totally optional; you can keep using the browser-based version if you prefer. The ability to keep the app running without signing in and out all day may appeal to you – if there’s no chance someone else could access your computer while you’re away from your desk. You may or may not experience faster performance, depending on your system configuration and the app’s other capabilities are a matter of personal preference. Let us know if you need help working with this new option – or if you have other questions about QuickBooks Online.  We are here to help!

Best Practices to Lower Your Outsourced IT Risks

Mitigating the risks of IT outsourcing

Nowadays it is common for many businesses to outsource at least one or more of their IT functions.  The goal is usually to save money and work more efficiently and effectively.  Yet if you don’t mitigate the risks involved, you could end up both losing out financially and failing to get the most from the outsourcing arrangement.

Here we suggest a few best practices to consider when outsourcing your IT functions:

  1. Consult your internal users – Ask for candid feedback about whether your organization’s technology is meeting your employees’ needs. What help from an outside provider do they really need?
  2. Consult with other organizations – Contact other organizations that have outsourced their IT functions.  Much can be learned by talking with trusted colleagues about their outsourcing experience.  Ask them how outsourcing actually helped — or hurt — them.
  3. Weigh opportunities vs. risks – Identify opportunities beyond cost savings. For example, outsourcing non-core IT functions — such as management of HR systems and supply-chain technology — could free up internal resources for projects you’ve put on the back burner but that have strategic importance. Keep in mind though, outsourcing too many non-core processes, or doing so improperly, could leave you with too little control of these functions and expose you to inefficiency or compliance risks.
  4. Refine your relationship expertise – Many business owners believe that, once they sign the deal, the contract will take care of itself.  As a result, they don’t adequately manage the relationship and often find themselves in conflict with the vendor or stuck with unsatisfactory results.  Clarify your expectations at the onset of the relationship and revisit them often by keeping the lines of communication open between you and your outsourced provider.  You may need to develop new skills, processes and metrics to ensure the service provider deliver the results expected.

In today’s global economy, IT outsourcing has become — in many industries — a competitive necessity.  Whether your company is large or small, we can help you assess, negotiate and maximize the bottom-line benefits of an outsourcing arrangement. Give us a call to let us know what we can do for you.

© 2015

Customer Service Best Practices

In many industries, quality customer service has become a quaint, distant memory.  Customers are often reduced to selecting the provider that costs them the least. But the golden rule has not been repealed.  Pleasing customers can create a powerful competitive advantage – and a few simple changes may increase your bottom line.

To distinguish your organization from the rest, we recommend establishing the following best practices for your customer service policies and procedures:

  1. Communicate with your customers. Return calls, emails, and social media contacts promptly, send updates about matters in progress, and explain delays as soon as you can.
  2. Make life easy. Offer discounts at the point of sale rather than giving out coupons or making buyers apply for mail-in rebates. If you use an automated phone system, provide a simple method for reaching a live person.
  3. Apologize early and whenever necessary. If you’re even partly wrong, apologize and proceed to a resolution. Train your employees to do the same and reward them for positive outcomes.
  4. Put customers first. Let your customers know you’re there for them and that you regard them as more than “dollar signs.” Listen to their concerns and then do whatever you can to address them promptly. If a customer is unhappy with a purchase of your product or service, fix it, replace it, or refund the payment in full.  At worst, the loss won’t be compounded by damage to your reputation.  At best, the money will come back multiplied by repeat business and referrals.

Quality service is a powerful marketing tool that’s surprisingly easy to implement. Simply imagine how you would want to be treated and provide that treatment to your customers. As customer satisfaction increases, so too will your profitability.

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