24August
2017
Earnings for All Seasons

While nature offers four seasons, Wall Street offers only one, four times a year. It’s called “earnings season,”? and it can move the markets. So what is earnings season and why is it important? Earnings season is the month of the year that follows each calendar quarter-end month (January, April, July and October) in which many public companies release quarterly earnings reports. Other public companies report earnings at other times during the year, but many are on the calendar year that ends December 31. Reported Earnings To understand the importance of earnings, we need to remember that the value of…

24August
2017
Anticipate Future Possibilities with a Shareholders Agreement

A shareholders agreement drafted for a privately held company details the rights and obligations of the shareholders. It not only provides guiding principles for running the business today, it lays out the ground rules of what to do if one of the shareholders dies, becomes disabled — or one party wants to dissolve the business. In other words, it can resolve issues in the future that you may not even anticipate now.             Caution: There are online shareholders agreement templates that can be filled in. But there is no one-size-fits-all shareholders agreement that is applicable…

24August
2017
A Potentially Large Responsibility: Taxes After Someone Dies

The death of a loved one is always difficult but it can be even more challenging if you are the one who must handle all the resulting tax responsibilities. There are a couple different ways you can assume the required duties: You may be named as the executor of the decedent’s estate under his or her will. In the absence of a will, you could be appointed as the administrator by the probate court. Either way, the duties are essentially the same, so for purposes of this article, we’ll call the person with the responsibility the executor. What must be…

10August
2017
Avoid Unhappy Returns

Every day, retailers across the country issue refunds to customers. The reasons range from a bad fit to the wrong color to a changed mind. The transactions are generally simple — the customers get money or a credit card refund and the store gets merchandise that it needs to resell. But too often, the transactions turn out to involve refund fraud, a crime that, according to one study, cost 15 surveyed retailers more than $450 million. Retail refund fraud takes many forms. In some cases, people return merchandise they never bought from your store. In other cases, employees steal items…

10August
2017
Disability Insurance: Do You Have Enough?

If you receive group disability insurance from your company, you may think you have enough coverage to protect yourself in the event of a long-term sickness or injury. But take a closer look. One of the unfortunate facts of life is that people are sometimes stricken by a disability that prevents them from working. Even if health insurance covers the medical bills, there isn’t always enough money to cover the mortgage, utility bills and daily living expenses. That’s where a disability insurance policy comes in. If your ability to earn a living is impaired on or off the job, the…

10August
2017
Fringe Benefits for a Family Partnership or LLC

A special set of federal income tax rules applies to fringe benefits provided by a partnership to its partners in exchange for their services to the business. The same set of rules also generally applies to multi-member LLCs (meaning LLCs with more than one owner), because they are generally treated as partnerships for federal tax purposes. With that background in mind, here is a brief summary of the tax treatment of fringe benefits provided by your family partnership to its partners or your family LLC to its members. Fringes Treated as Taxable Guaranteed Payments The cost of providing the following…

27July
2017
The Duties and Liabilities of a Trustee

Let’s say you are asked by a family member or loved one to be a trustee. Or perhaps you are setting up a trust and are considering who to name as the trustee(s). It is an honor to be asked since it shows the grantor has a high degree of trust in the potential trustee. However, before an individual accepts, he or she should be aware of all the responsibilities and liabilities involved. A trustee must manage the trust assets as set forth in the trust document. Here are five important steps for trustees to take: 1. Realize you have…

27July
2017
Meal Deductions: Tax Rest for the Weary

In one significant case, the U.S. Tax Court allowed a taxpayer to claim deductions for meals that stretch the limits of the traditional “sleep-or-rest” rule for business travelers. (Bissonnette, 127 TC No. 10) Background: Generally, you can deduct 50% of your meals and all incidental expenses when you are away from home on business. The IRS considers you to be “away from home” if business duties require you to leave the general area of your tax home substantially longer than an ordinary work day and you need to sleep or rest in order to meet the demands of the job….

27July
2017
What’s Involved in Being an Estate Executor?

If you’re asked to serve as the executor of an estate, think carefully about the decision before accepting the position. Acting as an executor or administrator of an estate can involve a great deal of work, depending on assets and the complexity of the estate. Q. Who Can Be an Executor? A. It depends on state law, but you generally must be over the age of 18 or 21.  In most states, to be an executor a person cannot have been convicted of a felony or be considered “unsuitable” by the court. For example, an estate with a large investment…

13July
2017
Tips for Saving on Business Travel

A business trip is meant to solidify relationships with clients and customers or to gain new ones. Or perhaps it’s a time for sales calls and “meets and greets” with suppliers. In any event, the goal of business travel is generally to make money — not to fritter it away on needless expenses. Businesses have to keep a close tab on the costs of being “on the road.” While it might be tempting to cut back on travel costs to save money — especially during tough times — the result could be a drop-off in sales, leads or damage to…

13July
2017
Arbitration Agreements Save Headaches and Dollars

If an employee accuses your company of discrimination and takes you to court, the ensuing battle could take years and cost thousands of dollars. When it’s all over, neither side may have much to show for it. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask employees to agree in advance to binding arbitration if such a dispute ever arises. Arbitration takes one-quarter of the time and costs one-tenth as much as going to court. It allows your company to avoid jury trials and makes large damage awards unlikely. Your employees benefit, as well, because arbitration gets them a hearing and…

13July
2017
Keeping Family Businesses Harmonious

Running a family business was probably easier back in 1786, when John Molson founded the Canadian brewery. In those days, eldest sons usually took over the reins, a company’s primary role was to provide for the family and disagreements were commonly resolved with the “my-way-or-the-highway” tactic. Since that time, family-run businesses have been an important segment of the economy — and internal conflict is common at many of them. Take Molson Inc., for example. Discord reportedly set in back during the 1970s when one side of the family sold the Montreal Canadiens hockey team to the Bronfmans, a rival Canadian…

29June
2017
The Utility of Sector Investing

There’s a growing popularity among individuals to broaden their investment strategy beyond the conventional allocation and  investment styles. Some see sector investing as a way to seek new opportunities for enhanced portfolio performance.1.2 Sectors are made up of companies grouped by similar businesses that range from natural resources to financial services and from technology to consumer staples. In any given year, one sector may outperform another. For example, in 2016, energy rose 28% while healthcare fell -2.83%.3 Successful sector investing depends on an individual’s ability to consistently and accurately determine when to rotate in and out of the various sectors,…

29June
2017
Time to Switch Your C Corp to S Corp Status?

Thanks to legislation passed in 2013, the federal income tax rates for individuals remain historically low for single taxpayers with taxable income below $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples filing jointly). That’s the good news. The bad news: The rates for C corporations remain at the same levels that have been in place for years. So you may wonder if you should switch a C corporation to S corporation status? Then, all the company’s taxable income would be passed through to you and the other shareholders and taxed at the relatively favorable rates for individuals. You also wouldn’t have to worry…

29June
2017
Take this Important Estate Planning Step Now

With the federal estate tax exemption at a generous $5.49 million for 2017 (up from $5.45 in 2016) the topic of estate planning may have fallen completely off your radar. After all, you may think there’s no way your estate would lose money if you happen to die between now and the end of 2017, so there’s no need to do anything. Wrong! There is an important estate planning action you should take right now. Check the beneficiary designations for your bank accounts, brokerage firm accounts, tax-favored retirement accounts, company benefit plans, life insurance policies, annuities, and 529 college accounts….

15June
2017
The Importance of Segregating Duties

Small and medium-sized companies are particularly prone to employee theft because they typically don’t have the staff available to assign more than one employee to processes to help ensure that fraud doesn’t take place. Assigning more than one employee to certain tasks, also known as segregating duties, is one of the primary tactics that companies can use to fight internal fraud. The importance of segregating duties can be seen in one fraud case involving a roofing and sheet metal company. Over the course of approximately four years, the company’s administrative assistant and bookkeeper embezzled more than $313,000 using a variety…

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