Tax Season After Party Action Items

We Survived Another Tax Season

This was a tough tax season. You may not even have your return back yet.  Either way, you’ll likely find these steps quite timely. And now you have time to collect supplies for your tax season after party!

Step 1: Ride out the shock. If you are a new business owner, take it from us veterans that the shock will not feel as intense after a few years. It might be a great shock – “whoo-hooo, I get that big of a refund?!” Or it could be life shattering –  “I think I’m going to be sick…where will that much money come from?”

Step 2: Your CPA is your best friend. Have their back and look at the return. Hand a copy of the tax return to a trusted and savvy accounting team member who will compare the information to your financial statements. Typos happen!

Step 3: Get the following reports from your CPA: Adjusting Journal Entries, Adjusted Trial Balance, and the Detailed Depreciation Schedule. These are some magic accounting terms that you should know a few things about.

If you own a micro to small company and have more than 3-4 entries on your Adjusting Journal Entries report, you may need process or personnel changes. It’s worth asking your CPA when it’s not tax time “Hey, how are my books looking?  Could we do better?” Make sure your CPA has not given up and doesn’t assume all books are a mess.  You want bright shiny clean books not cobbled together sort-of-but-not-quite-books.

The Adjusted Trial Balance shows what the total was for each account in your books at tax time. The accounting team member you gave a copy of the tax return to will thank you.  If they don’t get excited, they may need training or have given up and think the books will always be bad.

Some stuff you buy is written off over time (deprecation) because it was kind of expensive and will last several years.  The list of those items is on the Detailed Depreciation Schedule. Having this list allows your accounting team to track what assets were sold or disposed of during the current year.

Step 4:  Step back and ask yourself if you have the most effective and knowledgeable accounting team. Is it time to switch CPAs? Does the bookkeeper need some professional development? Has anyone given up and decided the books will be a mess forever?

Step 5: Be hopeful (Move to step 6 if you are). Don’t get sucked into the black hole of “my books will be a mess forever.” Amazing accounting professionals exist and new ones are mentored into existence all the time. The financials tell the story of your business. That’s why they’re called ‘the books.’ No one can hide the good or the bad from the numbers forever. To truly understand your business, you must learn how to read your financial statements.

Step 6:  This step is mostly for the accounting team members out there. We have the data! Oh yes, I am suggesting we begin the next tax prep while sipping lemonade in our summer wear. Create a binder (or folder) called “Taxes 20xx” to store all the current documents you need for this coming tax season. Put the three documents from the CPA in the front of the binder (folder). Create tabs (sub-folders) in the binder (main folder) as follows: Reports, Bank, Assets, Liabilities, Payroll, and Equity (if ownership changes will occur during the year).

Step 7: Track property purchases, sales, and disposals with detailed descriptions in your accounting software and add copies of purchase documents for big purchases (cars for example) to your binder/folder*.  Inform/Remind all employees that they need to tell you if property is sold or disposed of. Some of us have to fill out property tax returns, so we’re tracking property even if it’s not an asset (monitor vs. server). If that’s the case, put a copy of last years property tax items list in the front of your binder/folder too.

*Ok can we decide here and now that a vessel, real or electronic, that we store work information in/on will be called a finder meaning (f)older or b(inder). After all, the whole purpose is to ensure you can find things. Apple has always been pro shareware, so there should not be any copy write infringement.

Step 8: Collect needful things. The owner and the accounting team need to be committed to collecting important documents like W-9s, statements, loan documents, and anything else that backs up the data on the company balance sheet. If the owner is not on board with the needs of the accounting department they need to go back to Step 5.

A few of my beloved clients have asked for an After-Tax SOP (standard operating procedure). Here it is!

May you be surrounded by an accounting team you like and trust. May your next year-end close be accurate, efficient, and low stress. And may the after party for the whirlwind that was tax season 2018 include hope and joy.

Felonies, Background Checks & Hiring

A few years back an EECO law was put in place regarding pre-employment inquiries about arrest and convictions. To summarize the law, you can no longer have a check box on your company’s employment application that asks about felony convictions. The reason for the law is that this practice causes a “significant disadvantage” to individuals based on ethnicity and race. To put it bluntly people with black and brown skin are arrested and convicted disproportionately more compared to people with white skin.

So you are probably thinking “But Jackie, we cannot have convicted rapists in our clients home.” Per the EEOC, up front criminal history screening “do not help employer accurately decide if the person is likely to be responsible, reliable, or safe employee.” So to ensure your company does not have practices that discriminate against protected classes you should:

  1. Not have a upfront screening process like the ‘Have You Been Convicted of a Felony’ check box that make an applicant ineligible for employment before being interviewed.
  2. Once you are ready to offer an applicant the job, get their permission to run a background check.
  3. It is helpful to have a 3rd party handle the background check so you and your employees do not find out about history that is not relevant to employment at your company.
  4. Do not google. Mugshots and arrest records are “not proof that (the applicant) engaged in criminal activity.”
  5. Know your state’s laws regarding background checks because your state may have more strict laws that the EEOC.

For more information on this topic visit the EEOC.

Tax Reform – Meals & Entertainment

Meals & Entertainment Changes

GO! does not give tax advice but we will share what we learned at QBConnect.

Always check with your CPA for tax advice since there are so many grey zones and your CPA is the person that will need to deal with the IRS if there is an audit.

Entertainment

No longer deductible so those country club dues, golf outings and baseball games can no longer be deducted on your taxes says Intuit’s Jim Buffington, CPA.

The IRS is doing a good job of clarifying this change (link below) but they are not providing a good summary of changes to meal rules.

Coffee, Food, Meals

In a bizarre, turn of events, coffee and related break room food and drink supplies are now only 50% deductible.

While coffee seems like a staple for an office since the dawn of the office, many companies have gone a bit overboard with meals and snacks kept at the office.

What about coffee and tea for clients that come onsite?

Well, it may be difficult to stop employees from using the supplies and since meals with clients are also 50% deductible, even coffee and tea supplies for onsite client meetings are 50% deductible.

Employee meals were the main focus in the discussion of meals at this training.

Convenience is the magic work for employee meals.  If the meeting is at the convenience of the employer, the meals are 50% deductible.  Think of this as mandatory meetings during the work day.  Note the word mandatory.

Employee Celebrations are still 100% deductible per the QBConnect training.  So if you have a celebration, all employees are invited and attendance is not mandatory it means that this not not at the convenience of the employer, it’s the convenience of the employee.

New Accounts for QuickBooks

The trainers at QB Connect suggest that all meal related accounts are noted with 50% or 100% to clarify account usage to your CPA.

Office Food & Bev 50% – Recode of transactions previously coded to office supplies.

All Staff Celebrations 100% – Rename All Staff Meals and recode all company meeting expenses to a new account.

Meals – 50% Deductible – This now includes all company meeting food, travel meals, and business meeting meals which include meetings with clients.  The rule is at least one employee must be present at the meal.  Remember, the names of all who attended meal, their title and reason for meeting must be written on the receipt.

Entertainment – Non-Deductible – Make sure this account is created as an Other Expense type so it is not included in Net Profit.

The IRS is still not providing very good guidance on this topic which means things are left up to interpretation.  Link to IRS page

 

Getting Personal with your Personnel Files

Do you have all your employees files in the right place? The following information applies to Oregon, but it’s very good advice. Be sure to check your state regulations to see if there any differences.

Oregon ORS 652.750 requires employers to allow their employees access to their personnel/pay records upon request. What records are those you might ask? BOLI defines these records as ones “used to determine the employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or other disciplinary actions.”

Here’s a sample list from BOLI for Personnel Files:

  •          Job announcements
  •          Applications
  •           Resumes
  •          Records of Promotion
  •          Pay increase documentation
  •          Performance reviews
  •           Supervisor notes pertaining to named personnel actions
  •          Disciplinary actions; records of verbal and written warnings
  •          Notices of termination

All I9s should be in separate I9 Binder saved in a secure location. Here is a LINK for more information about how long to retain I9s (remember to audit I9s annually).

Finally, we have the Payroll File, which is also to be kept separate. This includes:

  •        Forms authorizing all deduction of pay
  •       W-4s
  •       Health Benefit and Retirement deductions
  •       And all other reimbursements to the company including purchase reimbursements

If it impacts payroll, there must be a signed document on file.  The only except to this rule is garnishments including child support.  You must have a signed document if you reduce the pay rate for an employee.

As our world becomes increasingly digital it’s important to stay digitally organized. Most of these files are no longer stored in cabinets and it can get messy with multiple devices these days. The good news is you don’t have to leave your desk to begin organizing them. Start today!

Here is a LINK to additional Q and A’s

iWire Directions for 2018

Oregon changed the iWire website and the rule about when you have to submit 1099s

W-2 iWire Filing with QuickBooks

“2013 was the first tax year where the Oregon Department of Revenue had the authority to assess

penalties for non-filing via the iWire system.  The Department is not assessing penalties for 2013 data, because they want to make sure that all businesses are aware of the requirement going forward. For tax year 2014, the Department will begin assessing penalties for non-filers and late filers.” – Oregon Dept of Rev Rep

QuickBooks E-file your State W-2s from QuickBooks article

What you will need:

Any documents needed to check the W-2 information

Third party preparers: Your EIN and contact information

Employers contact information

In QuickBooks:

Employees > Payroll Tax Forms & W-2s > create State W-2 E-file

Continue > Continue >ChooseState(if necessary) > Get QuickBooks Data > OK

Review Data as needed.

In Excel:

Choose Start Interview from QuickBooks Payroll State W-2 toolbar > Check the box > Next > Choose File location > Save > Next > Review Company Information > Next > Enter Submitter Type information (contract bookkeepers – you are a 3rd party) > Enter submitter and Employer contact information > Next > Create W-2 file.

Print directions as needed > OK > Save workbook now? Yes > Choose location and save.

Go to Oregon iWire

Take me to iWire (big blue button on right side) > File W2s and 1099s using iWire > Properly Formatted Text File > Enter Submitter’s contact information.  Do not enter EIN dash > Follow prmpts to upload and EFW2 file > Browse to text (txt) file > Submit.

Print page with confirmation number.

Archive confirmation page, Excel file and txt file.

You will receive an email confirmation as well.

1099 –Wire Filing

Companies that generated ANY TYPE of 1099 must submit information to iWire.  There is no longer a minimum threshold before you have to submit 1099s to iWire.  QuickBooks does not support E-Filing of 1099s to States.  You can add all your 1099 information into a pre-formatted spreadsheet located here.  On the right side bar you will find:

What you will need:

Completed 1099 forms

Third party preparers: Your EIN and contact information

Payer’s BIN, EIN, and contact information

Go to Oregon iWire

Take me to iWire (big blue button on right side) > File W2s and 1099s using iWire > Choose Manual Entry (or Spreadsheet from DOR Template) > Enter submitter’s contact information > Follow prompts to add all 1099 information manually or upload the excel document.

When you have entered all 1099 information, choose Review and Send your submission to the Oregon Department of Revenue > Review information – Compare Summary information with 1096 > Submit.

Print page with confirmation number.

Archive confirmation page.

You will receive an email confirmation as well.

Independent Contractor Tests

It is very important that you classify workers properly.  The mistake of classifying an employee as an independent contractor can be costly.

What is the definition of an Independent Contractor per the IRS?

20FactorTestforIndependentContractors

Here is an example of the type of form your company should have for Vendor On-boarding.

Example Independent Contractor Questionaire

And just for good measure, GO! is considered an Independent Contractor and here is our current W-9.

GO! W9 2017

Employee Change of Status Form

Pay rate change

Employment termination

Address change

Name change

GO! Employee Change of Status

Please note that to send a writable pdf back to GO! you need to save the document and then send.

Please use the W-4 to submit changes to SS# and withholdings:

W-4 Form

If an employee wants to have additional amounts withheld for state taxes they need to write the amount at the top of the W-4 form as follows:

State Additional $Amount Per Payroll

Reminder: Do not send sensitive information like W4 forms via email.

Mileage and Travel Reimbursements

You cannot deduct commuting costs so make sure you understand what is considered commuting – See the image furnished by the IRS below.

Reimbursements are part of an Accountable Plan which requires:

Business Connection: Proof of business necessity

Substantiation: Original receipts, mileage log, reimbursement request form.

Return of Excess Amounts: Return of unused advances.

IRS Info

Non-Accountable Plans are defined as:

Fixed daily or monthly amounts

No documentation of miles or expenses

Any payment to employee that does not meet the Accountable Plan requirements i.e. is considered a Non-Accountable Plan must be taxed as wages. Employee will need to substantiate and deduct on personal return.

IRS Info

What about per diem?

Considered reimbursement only if employees return an expense report in a reasonable period.

Per Diem FAQs

Professional Communication in Today’s Techie World

What does professional communication look like in the techie world we live in?  Join us in a review of what professional communication is, how it has changed, and things to avoid.  This will be an audience-participating, entertaining and fun presentation.  Everyone who wants to polish up on their professional communication skills should attend.

Weds, Nov 18th
12:00pm-1:30pm
Big River 101
Register here!

Sick Leave Q&A

Q&A with Lindsay N. Malachowski, Attorney at Law.

Are You Ready for Oregon’s New Sick Leave Law?

 Beginning January 1, 2016, most Oregon employers will be required to offer sick leave to employees.

Who is affected?

 Employers with fewer than 10 employees will generally be required to offer up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave to employees.  Those employers with 10 or more employees will generally be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave.  Limited exceptions apply.  (Please note, due to a previously-enacted local law, Portland employers have a 6-employee threshold.)

What if an employer already provides sick leave for employees?

 If you already provide your employees with time off through a paid leave policy (e.g. PTO), you will not be required to provide additional paid sick leave.  However, your existing policy must meet the minimum requirements of the law.

Can employees use “sick leave” even if they are not sick?

 Under the new law, employees can use sick leave (paid or unpaid) for various purposes beyond the employee’s own health condition, injury, illness, or preventative care.  Examples include bereavement leave, sick child leave, leave to care for a family member, leave for any purpose permitted under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), and leave permitted under Oregon’s domestic violence and harassment laws.

How is time accrued?

 Generally, employees accrue sick leave at a rate of one and one-third hours for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.  Employees will start to accrue this sick leave on January 1, 2016 or on their first day of employment, if hired after January 1, 2016.

How should employers prepare?

 Review your current leave policies to ensure you are in compliance with the new law for all employees.  It is possible you may have to amend current policies to meet the minimum requirements and/or extend your policies to more employees.  Review your employee handbook to make the appropriate additions or changes, and consult with your attorney.

Lindsay N. (Briggs) Malachowski, Smith, Davison & Brasier, PC, (541) 752-6416.