The Benefits to small business owners of Outsourcing Bookkeeping and Payroll Services to an Accountant

There are several advantageous reasons why  small business owners should consider outsourcing their bookkeeping and payroll services. Taxes are complicated and the IRS continually makes payroll more difficult each year. The following highlights several advantages to outsourcing accounting-related services to an accountant.

 Time – By outsourcing standard bookkeeping and tax-related services, employees can spend more time on company-related work instead of being distracted by payroll taxes, business invoices, IRS updates, regulation changes, etc.

 Money – Instead of hiring a full-time accountant or bookkeeper, consider saving money by outsourcing. Not only will companies save annual salaries, they can also save money in valuable and costly benefits.

 Experts –By choosing an accountant with a Business Owners Package, customers receive access to unlimited email and telephone consultations, including ways to minimize taxes. Skilled staff are able to effectively manage payroll and bookkeeping services, helping ensure government-related tax compliance.

 Focus – Outsourcing bookkeeping allows companies to avoid stretching full-time bookkeepers too thin, as they often have other tasks to complete, such as administration functions, reception tasks, etc.

 Teamwork – Hiring an experienced bookkeeper in the DC area gives a small business company access to a team of experts that offer bookkeeping services, priority payroll services, hosting of QuickBooks and software support, personal and business taxes and much more. Bay Business Group’s team of experts specializes in monthly financial statement preparation, tax returns, bank account reconciliation, payroll, cash-flow management, budgeting assistance, tax planning and projections, part-time on-demand Controller and accurate up-to-date financial records. Forgoing last minute tax surprises, companies can access their financial information online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 Systems – Because you want an expert who is informed about the latest government tax codes and law changes, outsourcing helps pay for up-to-date knowledge, which ultimately saves companies valuable money in the end. Companies have access to the latest tax codes, without spending precious money paying bookkeepers or on staff accountants to attend seminars. Additionally, as an added bonus, if you are using an accountant that hosts your software for you, all data is backed up every night, ensuring that companies’ records are well documented and IRS audits do not turn into a nightmare.

Whether a company grows or decreases in size, Bay Business Group is there to help offer valuable, up-to-date outsourced accounting services. Switch accountants and be pleasantly surprised by the easy transition.

If you found this article useful, please do not keep this a secret. Share it with a friend.

David Bradsher, CPA

March 2015 – Quick Updates

March 16 is the deadline for calendar-year corporations to file 2014 income tax returns.

March 16 is the deadline for calendar-year corporations to elect S corporation status for 2015.

March 31 is the deadline for electronic filing of 2014 information returns with the IRS.

March 31 is the deadline for employers to electronically file 2014 W-2s with the Social Security Administration.

The IRS will waive some penalties related to advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance purchased under the ACA.

The IRS says taxpayers held $5.3 trillion in IRAs in 2012 – $4.6 trillion in traditional IRAs and $403 billion in Roth IRAs.

According to the IRS, 3.7 million taxpayers contributed to traditional IRAs in 2012; 5.5 million contributed to Roth IRAs.

The Treasury estimates that 2% to 4% of taxpayers will be subject to tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act.

Among the ten basic taxpayer rights listed by the IRS is the right to clear explanations of the tax laws and of IRS procedures.

The FTC reports that tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft reported in 2014.

If you turned 70 ½ last year and didn’t take your first required distribution from your IRA, you must take it by April 2, 2015.

If you own foreign investments, you may have to file Form 8938 as part of your individual tax return this year.

Before choosing direct deposit for your tax refund, verify that your bank accepts such deposits, and verify account and routing numbers.

David Bradsher, CPA

Some questions and answers about reverse mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a loan against your property. But, instead of you making payments to the lender as you do on a regular mortgage, the lender is paying you. The repayment of this mortgage takes place after you no longer live in your home. Here are some answers to common questions about reverse mortgages.

1. How can a reverse mortgage benefit me?

The proceeds from this type of loan can be used for any purpose you want. You can use it to pay monthly bills, travel, improve your home or anything else you care to. And since it is a loan, it is not subject to income tax.

2. Do I qualify for a reverse mortgage?

To qualify, you must be 62 years of age or older. You must own your home and use it as your primary residence. If you owe money on a current mortgage, back taxes, or insurance, you must clear these off the property by closing time of your new mortgage.

3. What is the process for getting a reverse mortgage?

First, you will meet with a free reverse mortgage consultant.

Second, you will be counseled by a HUD-approved counselor to make sure you understand how this loan works.

Third, submit your application to the lender.

Fourth, have your home appraised.

Fifth, once all the documents are in order, the lender will issue final approval.

Sixth, funds will be available to you after all documents are signed and the closing is complete.

4. How much money will I receive?

The amount of your loan proceeds will depend on you and your spouse’s ages and the value of the equity in your home.

5. How much cash do I need to come up with?

The only expense you need to pay for is the property appraisal. All other fees can be paid for out of the loan proceeds. You should never pay anyone a fee to apply for a reverse mortgage, not beforehand and not at closing.

6. What payments do I need to make during the life of this loan?

You are not required to make loan payments. However, as per your agreement, you must keep the real estate taxes and home insurance current. You must also pay for home repairs.

7. How is this loan different from a regular mortgage?

On this loan, there are no monthly principal and interest payments. There are no credit scores or income requirements to secure this loan. And at the end of the loan, you are not liable for any loan amount over the value of the home.

8. How long does it take before my funds will be available?

There is no fixed time table. In part, it will depend on the appraisal, the title report, and on other paperwork considerations. A typical loan should be done in less than two months.

9. When do I need to pay this loan back?

As long as you meet the contract terms, nothing is due until you no longer live in the home. The home can then be sold and any money in excess of what the lender has coming is refunded to you or your estate. If the sales proceeds do not pay the lender in full, you are not required to pay the difference.

10. How do I know if a reverse mortgage is a good idea?

Reverse mortgages are not for everyone. Your counselor will inform you of all the pluses and minuses. You should have enough information at that time to make a knowledgeable decision. You should compare all aspects of the reverse mortgage against a conventional home equity loan.

David Bradsher, CPA

Not all “income” is taxable

There are several sources of revenue that are not subject to income tax.

Here are the most common sources of money that are not taxed on your federal income tax return:

* Borrowed money such as from banks or personal loans.

* Money received as a gift or inheritance from family or friends.

* Money paid on your behalf directly to a school or medical facility.

* Most life insurance proceeds.

* Cash rebates from businesses when you buy an item.

* Child support payments.

* Money you receive for sustaining an injury.

* Scholarships for tuition and books.

* Disability insurance proceeds from a policy purchased with after-tax dollars.

* Up to $500,000 of profit for a couple selling their personal residence.

* Interest received on municipal bonds.

If you have included any of these on your income tax return for the past three years, you can amend your return for a tax refund.

If you would like assistance in determining what to include on your income tax return, please contact us. We are here to help you.

David Bradsher, CPA

Is your business using part-time workers?

Recent job statistics indicate that more employers are using part-timers to deal with variations in workload and for short-term projects. Here are a few tips your business will find useful if you hire part-time workers.

* Communicate clearly with the part-timer. Explain the person’s duties, the hours and benefits, and the individual to whom the part-timer will report.

* Tell your full-time staff why you’re hiring the part-timer. Make it clear what that person will and won’t be expected to do.

* Provide introductory training for the part-time worker. Assign someone the new person can turn to with everyday questions.

* Monitor the part-timer’s progress. Provide feedback on performance and recognition for doing a good job.

Pay attention to these points if you want hiring part-time workers to be a good choice for your company.

David Bradsher, CPA

Here are tax breaks when you do charitable work

If you do volunteer work for a charitable organization and have not kept track of your out-of-pocket expenses, you might be passing up an excellent opportunity to lower your tax bill. To qualify, your unreimbursed expenses must relate directly to the charity, and you must itemize your deductions on your tax return. Here is a brief rundown of some possible deductions.

* Volunteers may deduct the cost of phone calls, postage stamps, supplies, and other out-of-pocket costs incurred in their volunteer work. For volunteers who are required to wear a uniform, the cost of buying and cleaning uniforms is deductible if they are unsuitable for everyday wear.

* The cost of your time, no matter how valuable it may be, is not deductible. That’s true even if you would normally be paid for the type of service you contribute. For instance, accountants who perform free consulting for charities can’t deduct what they would normally charge for their services.

* Using your car in connection with volunteer work can earn you a deduction. The standard mileage rate for volunteers who use their own cars is 14 cents per mile. Alternatively, you may deduct your actual unreimbursed expenses for gas and oil – but not maintenance, depreciation, or insurance. Either way you choose, related parking fees and tolls are deductible as well.

* If you travel overnight for charitable purposes, your expenses are deductible as long as they are reasonable in amount and not connected with personal activities or any element of recreation.

* Special rules apply to conventions. Travel and other out-of-pocket expenses related to attendance at a convention for volunteers are deductible only if you have been chosen as a delegate to represent the organization.

Finally, just remember that it is up to you, the volunteer, to substantiate your deductions. If you take these deductions, you should be prepared to show the IRS the connection between the costs claimed and the charitable work performed.

 

David Bradsher, CPA

Grandparents can help with college costs

Are you a grandparent who wants to help pay for a grandchild’s college education? You’ll find several ways to do this, each with its own limitations and tax consequences.

GIFTS. The simplest way is to make an outright cash gift to your grandchild each year. In 2014, you can give up to $14,000 without any gift tax liability. If your spouse joins in the gift, you can jointly give each grandchild up to $28,000 each year.

DIRECT PAYMENTS. You can give unlimited amounts without gift tax consequences if you make the payments directly to a qualified education institution on behalf of your grandchild. Payments can only be for tuition, not for dorm fees, meals, books, etc.

EDUCATION ACCOUNTS. You could set up a Coverdell education savings account or a Section 529 plan for your grandchild. These plans offer tax-free growth of amounts you contribute to them. Age, income, and contribution limits apply, however.

To discuss the options best suited to your circumstances, contact our office.

David Bradsher, CPA

Selling vacant land could bring a tax break

You probably know that you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 for most joint filers) when you sell your principal residence. IRS regulations may now allow you to apply this gain exclusion when you sell vacant land that is adjacent to your home.

To qualify, the land you sell must be adjacent to the parcel on which your house sits. Also, the land sale must occur within two years before or after the residence is sold. You must meet the other usual requirements for claiming the exclusion. If you qualify, you can apply your $250,000 or $500,000 exclusion to both sales combined.

Example: You own and live in a house which sits on four acres. You decide to sell the house on a one-acre lot and sell the other three acres of empty land to a developer. Provided the land sale occurs within two years before or after you sell the house, you can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 if you file jointly) of the combined gain from both sales.

 

David Bradsher, CPA

Planning can save your vacation home tax deductions

You can enjoy a vacation home and cut your taxes – with some careful planning and a little discipline.

The IRS rules can be complex and potentially restrictive, so a word of caution is in order as you plan the use of your vacation home.

Owners of vacation homes often rent out the property when they’re not using it themselves. Renting out your vacation home may or may not make sense for you. The principal variables are the number of days you rent the property, the number of days of personal use, your individual tax situation, and your personal wishes for the use of your vacation home.

* Rent for 14 days or less and a simple tax break is available. If you rent your vacation home for 14 days or less, all of the rental income is tax-free. This attractive tax benefit can help provide cash for your mortgage and other expenses.

* Rent for more than 14 days and your tax planning and personal life become more complex. If you rent your vacation home for more than 14 days, all your rental income is reportable. Whether you treat the income and expenses as a second residence or as rental property depends on the personal use of your vacation home relative to the time the home is rented out. This test is made annually and determines the nature of deductions, loss carryovers, and the tax treatment if the vacation home is sold.

Please call us to guide you through the IRS rules to find the rental strategy that meets your financial goals, yet ensures the personal enjoyment of your vacation home.

David Bradsher, CPA

Have you checked your withholding lately?

Did you receive a large tax refund or owe a large balance due on your 2013 income tax filing? If so, it may be time for you to check your withholding. Changing your withholding is as simple as filing a new Form W-4 with your employer.

The smart taxpayer will calculate withholding to be as close to the actual amount 2014 tax liability will end up being. That will prevent you from being penalized for underpayment and from giving the IRS interest-free use of your money for a year.

Keep these general rules in mind. You won’t face an underpayment penalty if you pay for 2014, through withholding or quarterly estimated payments, at least 100% of your 2013 tax liability (110% if your adjusted gross income for 2013 is over $150,000), or if you pay at least 90% of what you’ll owe for 2014.

David Bradsher, CPA