11January
2018
Setting Up a Special Needs Trust

Medical advances, an aging population, a changing political scene and the increase of conditions such as autism are combining to produce a growing need for a particular type of estate planning tool — the special needs trust. For example, an aging couple whose adult son has severe autism might want a special needs trust because they are worried about how the child will survive after the parents’ deaths. Or a group of siblings may want to set up a special needs trust for their young sister, who is a teenager, but expected to need supervision for the rest of her life….

11January
2018
Save Taxes While Controlling Employee Health Costs

If rising health care costs have sent your company searching for ways to reduce expenses, you should know there are alternatives to standard medical insurance plans. Your choices are not limited to either paying the higher costs yourself or transferring the burden to your employees. Tax-advantaged strategies are available which can mitigate the effect of rising costs for you and your staff members. Here are three ideas to consider. 1. Establish a Health Insurance Premium-Only Plan (POP) This super-simple option is often a good choice for small employers. With a POP, your employees are charged via payroll withholding for their…

11January
2018
Four Steps to Valuing an Estate

Determining the value of an estate is a fundamental first step in estate management and a critical requirement for settling a decedent’s estate.¹ How to Assess the Value of an Estate   1.  Select the date of calculation. Because values move up and down, you need to set a specific date for a valuation. For a living person, you are free to pick any date. If you’re assessing the value of a decedent’s estate, you may choose either the date of death, or the date six months after death (the “alternate valuation date”). If you use the alternate valuation date,…

28December
2017
The Benefits of Leasing

If your company wants to improve cash flow, you might consider leasing equipment, vehicles and facilities, rather than buying. The primary advantage of leasing used to be the tax advantages. But the fact that leasing allows you to conserve cash makes it a form of financing. It’s not an alternative that works for every company so you should consult with a professional to help you compare leasing versus owning. Almost any asset can be leased these days, from aircraft to oil wells, but leasing usually involves vehicles, heavy equipment, computers and other office equipment. Leasing can be a good option…

28December
2017
Do You Over-Manage and Under-Lead?

Managers and leaders are two different animals, but every organization has both. If you want to see better results in your business, train all your managers to step out of their current roles and into a leadership mindset. Check the list below to see how your people measure up on the leadership scale: Managers… Leaders… Believe they must catch people doing             something wrong.                                                      Catch people doing things right. Generate laws that create more need for cops.        Create a culture that controls behavior. Provide instructions. Provide vision. Focus on the short term. Envision the future. Control…

28December
2017
Choosing Among the Children

You look forward to the day when you can hand over the reins of the family business to the next generation and enjoy retirement. Or do you? Sometimes, family businesses have two or more children in line to take charge and sibling rivalry erupts. Too often the matter is not discussed because it seems impossible to resolve and requires difficult decision-making. But avoidance isn’t the answer. Engage in honest discussions at specified intervals — quarterly, monthly or even weekly if necessary. Encourage open communication, keep interruptions to a minimum and be sure all concerns are aired. If you’re lucky, you’ll…

30November
2017
Let a Contingency Plan Steer You Through a Fraud Disaster

The first thing every Boy Scout or Girl Scout learns is to “be prepared.” Business owners would do well to remember this motto when they’re developing fraud control procedures. Even if you don’t believe your employees are capable of defrauding the company, it could happen. And if you have a fraud contingency plan in place, you’ll be prepared to handle it. Keep a Clear Head A fraud contingency plan is your disaster road map. When you learn that a trusted employee has been stealing from you, you’ll likely be distressed — which is no time to trust your instincts for…

30November
2017
How Roth IRA Withdrawals Are Taxed

You may think that all withdrawals from Roth IRAs are federal-income-tax-free. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Some withdrawals are taxable. On top of that, withdrawals before age 59 1/2 can potentially get hit with a 10% premature withdrawal penalty tax. Here’s what you need to know about Roth withdrawals and taxes. Only Qualified Withdrawals Are Tax-Free Roth withdrawals are tax-free if you: Are at least age 59 1/2 (or disabled or dead) and Have had at least one Roth IRA open for over five years. Then, all withdrawals from any of your Roth accounts are qualified withdrawals. As such, they are…

30November
2017
Hire Your Kids and Save Taxes

Here’s a great tax-saving idea for those who have teenagers who can work part-time in the family business. Hire the kids as legitimate employees. This strategy works best if your business operates as: A husband-wife partnership (owned only by you and your spouse). A husband-wife Limited Liability Company (LLC), which is treated as a husband-wife partnership for federal tax purposes. A sole proprietorship. A single-member LLC, which is treated as a sole proprietorship for federal tax purposes. This same strategy also works well (though not quite as favorably) for other types of family business entities, such as a C or…

16November
2017
Consider a GRAT to Transfer a Business

Succession planning for your business can be daunting. Along with selecting the right family member or other individual to carry on the business, you must weigh a variety of tax and financial planning issues. Some closely held business owners have found it pays to use a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT). An Alphabet Soup of Trusts GRATs aren’t the only type of grantor trusts available for estate planning. You might also want to consider a grantor retained unitrust (GRUT) or grantor retained income trust (GRIT). Like a GRAT, both are irrevocable trusts created by the transfer of assets and followed…

16November
2017
Claiming Business Deductions for Work-Related Education Costs

If you’re headed back in the classroom, or thinking about it, you might be wondering if the tuition expenses are tax deductible. To be considered work-related education for business deduction purposes, the training must meet one or both of the following standards: Standard No. 1: The education is expressly required by applicable law or regulations in order for you to retain your current professional status.Standard No. 2: The education maintains or improves skills required in your current profession or business. Example 1: A self-employed radiologist runs his business as a single-member LLC. He is treated as a sole proprietor for tax…

16November
2017
Sharing an Inheritance

Married individuals who receive a large inheritance face a tough decision — should you share the inheritance with your spouse or hold the assets separately? Legally, you aren’t required to share the inheritance, even in community property states where almost all other income must be split equally. Even if all other marital assets are owned jointly, you might want to consider keeping an inheritance separate for a couple of reasons: Should you get divorced, you probably wouldn’t have to split a separately-held inheritance with your spouse. When you die, you control who receives the inheritance. If the inheritance is owned…

02November
2017
The Importance of an E-Mail Disclaimer

E-mail is ubiquitous in the American workplace and along with its growth comes the risk of lawsuits that can cost your company a bundle. In most cases an employer is held responsible for information contained in corporate e-mail messages. That means a company must take steps to ensure that e-mail communications don’t pose a legal risk. To help insulate yourself, add legal disclaimers to either the beginning or end of your e-mails.             A disclaimer can help protect you in these areas: Confidentiality. A disclaimer at the end of e-mail messages that the material is…

02November
2017
Uncle Sam Wants to WARN Employers About a Layoff Law

If your business finds that it must lay off a large number of employees, make sure you are in compliance with a federal law that requires some employers to provide advance notification. This little-known law is called the Federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act (WARN). Under the law, employers who are covered must give 60 days notice of a plant closing or mass layoff. This notice must be given both to employees and to state and local governments. Failing to do so can result in civil penalties and employees can sue for as much as 60 days’ pay and…

02November
2017
Keeping the Business in the Family

Many successful small companies are family owned and run. And, there’s a good reason for it. It takes passion to make a go of it in business, and especially for a smaller one. A family owned business can benefit from the special dedication of a founder at the helm and possibly a spouse, siblings and children working alongside. But the devotion and dedication to the business also needs to apply to the succession plan for the company. Outside Resources for Family-Owned Businesses For smaller family-owned companies, it’s sometimes difficult to get perspective on challenging business problems. Family members may find…

19October
2017
Investing With Your Heart

Some individuals believe that the return on investment shouldn’t be the only criterion for how they invest their money. For them, the social impact of investing is just as important — perhaps, more important. The history of socially responsible investing stretches at least as far back as the mid-18th Century, but its more modern form began taking shape in the 1960s, amidst the fight for civil rights and the emerging anti-Vietnam protests. More than $8.7 trillion is managed under sustainable and responsible investing principles.¹ This includes mutual funds, endowments and even venture-capital funds. Amounts in mutual funds are subject to…

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