Small Business

A Dozen Deductions For Your Small Business

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate

small business tax deductions

A small business offers plenty of opportunities for tax deductions. Just be sure to follow IRS rules.

Here are 12 that even savvy small-business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes forget.

the deductible dozen

1. Home office

To claim your home office on your taxes, the IRS says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else.

The deduction isn’t limited to a full room. Your home office can be part of a room. Measure your work area and divide by the square footage of your home.

That percentage is the fraction of your home-related business expenses — rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, etc. — that you can claim.

There’s also a simpler way to claim a home office deduction. Consider both the regular and simplified methods of writing off your home office.

“I don’t agree that chances of getting audited are greater with a home office deduction,” says Zobel, a San Francisco Bay-area tax expert who specializes in serving the self-employed. The key is that you use the term “home office” the same way the IRS does. The tax agency says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else. Deducting the den that houses the family computer and serves as a guest bedroom won’t fly with Uncle Sam.

“If you only have one computer and you have a child over 4, the IRS is going to be pretty certain that the child is using the computer,” says Zobel. “And the burden of proof is on you.”

The deduction, however, isn’t limited to a full room. Your home office can be part of a room. Just how much of the space is deductible? Measure your work area and divide by the square footage of your home. That percentage is the fraction of your home-related business expenses — rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, etc. — that you can claim.

There’s also a newer way to claim a home office deduction. Read “Use newer, simplified home office deduction” for details.

2. Office supplies

Even if you don’t take the home office deduction, you can deduct the business supplies you buy. Hang on to those receipts, because these expenditures will offset your taxable business income.

3. Furniture

Office-furniture acquisitions provide two choices:

  1. Deduct 100 percent of the cost in the year of the purchase.
  2. Deduct a portion of the expense over seven years, also known as depreciation.

To take the whole cost in one tax year, use the Section 179 deduction. There deduction cap for 2016 taxes is $500,000, but may be adjusted for inflation in future years.

If you choose instead to depreciate the desks and filing cabinets, you can’t simply split the cost into equal portions over the depreciation period. Instead, you must use an IRS chart to make separate calculations each year.

Which is better for you? Anticipate the times that your business will need these deductions the most. Both options are reported on IRS Form 4562.

4. Other equipment

Items such as computers, copiers, fax machines and scanners are tax-deductible. As with furniture, you can take 100 percent upfront or depreciate (this time over five years).

Does your business need a new copier? Put it on a business credit card.

5. Software and subscriptions

Section 179 provides another tax break. New computer software a business buys can be fully expensed in the year purchased.

For business and industry-related magazine subscriptions you can deduct the total costs as a full deduction in the year spent.

6. Mileage

If you drive for business, the IRS wants to give you some of your money back. You’ll need documentation, so keep a notebook in your vehicle to record the date, mileage, tolls, parking costs and the purpose of your trip.

At the end of the year, you have two choices:

  1. Total the mileage and add in the tolls and parking to calculate your deduction. Once you have your mileage total, multiply it by 54 cents for your 2016 deduction. For 2017 business tax purposes, the rate drops to 53.5 cents a mile.
  2. Measure your business usage against your personal driving and deduct that portion of your auto-related expenses. Remember to include gas, repairs and insurance.

If you are leasing, include those payments.

If you are buying the car, factor in the interest on your loan and depreciation on your vehicle.

If your company’s office is at your house, you can deduct the entire business-related mileage, from the minute you pull out of the driveway until you return home.

If your business is not home-based, your mileage meter starts at your first business-related destination and ends at your last. You can’t include the drive to and from home. In this case, try to schedule several business appointments on the same day to allow you to take the mileage between stops as a tax write-off.

7. Travel, meals, entertainment and gifts

Good news, small-business travelers. You might as well stay in a nice hotel, because the entire cost is tax-deductible. Likewise, the cost of travel — air, rail or auto — is 100 percent deductible, as are costs associated with life on the road (dry cleaning, rental cars and tipping the bellboy).

The only exception is dining out. You can deduct only 50 percent of your meals while traveling. So stay at the Ritz and eat at Wendy’s.

Once you get home, your on-the-job meals aren’t deductible — unless you bring along a client to talk business. In this case, you might consider splurging on a fancier meal because then you can write off half such work-related dining costs.

The 50 percent deduction limit applies to most other client entertainment expenses, too. But a direct gift to a client or employee is 100 percent deductible, up to $25 per person per year.

8. Insurance premiums

Self-employed and paying your own health insurance premiums? These costs are 100 percent deductible.

This break primarily benefits proprietorships, but there are limits. The deduction can’t be more than your business’ net profit. And it’s not allowed if you were eligible for other health care coverage, including that offered by your employed spouse’s medical plan.

Did your spouse work for you last year? You can get the full medical premiums deduction on your return. As an employee, your spouse’s premiums are 100 percent deductible; if you and the children were on his or her policy as dependents, so are those costs.

Two caveats:

  1. Your spouse’s employment must be real, not in name only, and you must offer coverage equally to any other employees.
  2. Failure to meet these requirements could result in a lawsuit, an audit or both.

You also can include some of the premiums you pay for long-term care insurance for yourself, your spouse or dependents.

9. Retirement contributions

Are you self-employed and saving for your own retirement with a SEP IRA or Keogh? Don’t forget to deduct your contribution on your personal income tax return.

10. Social Security

The bad news: If you’re self-employed or starting a small business, you have to pay double the Social Security contributions you would as an employee. That’s because federal law requires the employer pay half and the employee pay half. Self-employed workers are both, meaning the total will equal 15.3 percent of your net profits.

The good news: You can deduct half of the contribution on your 1040.

11. Telephone charges

You can deduct the cost of the business calls you make for business from home. When your bill comes in, circle the business-related calls, total them up and keep a copy. At the end of the year, tally your 12 bills and deduct 100 percent.

Regular fees and charges on your phone line don’t count toward your deduction. But if you have a second line installed and use it only for business, all of these charges are deductible.

If you use your cellphone for your business, you can claim those calls as a tax deduction. If 30 percent of your time on the phone is spent on business, you could deduct 30 percent of your phone bill.

12. Child labor

If you hire your children as employees at your business, you may be able to deduct their salaries from your business income if they meet certain requirements.

Also, there is no Social Security tax when you hire your child who is 17 or younger and you can deduct the salary as a business expense.

This break is available, however, only if you operate as a sole proprietor or as a partnership in which you and your spouse are the only partners. If your business runs as a corporation, then it, not you, is considered the employer and the corporation is not relieved of the tax liabilities.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

 

3 Reasons to Start a Small Business in Palm Beach, Florida

palm-beach-florida

Not all states are created equal, and in addition to plentiful sunshine, Florida offers quite a few tax advantages for businesses. As of 2016, the incentives fall into three areas: corporate income, insurance premiums, and sales and use. Not only that, starting a small business is relatively easy.

Small Business Regulations Are Minimal

Founding a small business in an area such as Palm Beach, Florida is a breeze, particularly since the county website is so friendly and provides a step-by-step guide of the process. Basically, you need to name your business and check with county officials about zoning, any licenses and any state sales tax issues. Working out of your home is most likely fine, but it is always good to confirm. That’s it! The process for other areas of the state, besides Palm Beach, is relatively similar.

There Is No State Income Tax Unless You Are a C-Corporation

The only Florida businesses that pay taxes are C-corporations, but even then, the taxes are low compared to what C-corporations have to pay in other parts of the country. This means that sole proprietorships and partnerships get huge savings. As for limited liability corporations, they also do not have to pay state tax unless they are one of the infrequent LLCs that has opted for incorporation.

Many Florida small businesses take the form of an S-corporation; it offers the dual benefits of no business tax and quite a few similar legal protections available to C-corporations. However, S-corporation owners do need to pay federal taxes on their S-corporation income.

Tax Incentives Are Varied

Florida provides many tax incentives, such as a research and development tax credit, and a sales tax exemption for industrial machinery and equipment purchases for eligible manufacturing businesses. No matter what type of business you want to go into, there may be a Florida tax incentive for you. Enlist the help of an accountant to learn more, or click on applicable links from the Florida Department of Revenue.

How Herman & Company CPA’s, P.C. Can Help

Herman & Company CPA’s, P.C. offers many solutions for businesses to maximize profit in Palm Beach, Florida. Whether you need assistance with accounting and bookkeeping needs and/or tax planning, Herman & Company CPA’s, P.C. will do a free consultation. Get in touch to see how we can be of service!

 

Small Business Affordable Care Act Reporting Responsibilities

Small business obamacare reporting

Extended deadlines, confusing terms for business sizes and hiccups in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace may have small business owners dreading the next steps for IRS forms and coverage reporting. Fortunately, only 4% of small businesses are subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements or the employer responsibility provision.

The good news is that reporting for the 2014 calendar year is entirely voluntary, and there will be no negative impact or tax liability for either employers or employees, if small business owners decide to report for this year.

Defining Small Business Sizes:

Small Employer: Generally businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees.

Large Employer: 50 or more full time or full time equivalent employees.

Not sure how many full time employees or full time equivalent (FTE) employees you have? Head over to the healthcare.gov FTE calculator.

Reporting Start Dates:

100 or more employees: Minimal Essential Coverage (MEC) must start January 1, 2015, with mandatory reporting filed no later than February 29th, 2016 or March 31, 2016 if e-filing.

50 or more employees: While MEC is not required until January 1, 2016, reporting for the 2015 calendar year is required.

25 or less: Reporting is encouraged, but not mandatory. However, small businesses of this size may be eligible for tax credits and other benefits if they voluntarily file reports for 2014 or 2015. Learn more about these tax credits at the IRS website.

What is Reported

Small businesses must report about the coverage (if any) offered, per month, to their full-time employees. This information, reported per employee, must include the lowest cost of self-only coverage offered to employees.

Forms, Forms and More Forms

The IRS has, in an effort to streamline the reporting process for businesses, created single, combined form for information reporting. The forms created (6055 & 6056) will be used by employers to report to both the IRS and to furnish employees with information about their offered coverage.

Simplified Reporting Options

Employers that offer a qualifying offer – minimal value coverage for a full time employee that costs the employee no more than $1,100 and also offers an option family coverage – have an even simpler way to report for 2015. Business owners must inform employees that they may be eligible for premium tax credits and provide standard statements for all reporting.

If the employee receives a qualifying year-round offer, the employer needs to report only that they received the qualifying offer 12 months out of the year and the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of said employee. A copy of this or a statement of the same information must be furnished to the employee.

If the employee receives this qualifying offer for fewer than 12 months out of the year, the IRS accepts reporting that simply indicates an offer was made with a code entered for each month the offer was made.

These simplified options were brought about in a response to feedback from stakeholders, and are the results of the IRS trying to make a difficult and often costly change in the way small businesses are run a little easier on business owners.

W-2 Reporting

If an employer provides coverage under a group health plan, they must report the value of the healthcare provided on employee W-2 forms in Box 12 using the code DD to identify the amount. Find out more about W-2 reporting from the IRS page that also provided a chart on W-2 reporting.

While the IRS has instituted a policy of leniency for employers throughout this transition period, it is always a good idea to find webinars online, local workshops, or work with a small business accountant to better understand the responsibilities of a small business owner.

If you feel overwhelmed or would like more information, contact Paul Herman for a consultation, (914) 400-0300.

Small Business Resources

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!  

If you are a small business owner, here is a list of organizations that may have tools, information, and other resources to help your business grow.7650804342_9715bb425f_b

Business USA The mission of Business USA is to be a centralized, one-stop platform for businesses to access government services to help them grow and hire. Business USA uses technology to connect businesses to the services and information relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located or which government agency’s website, call center, or office they go to for help.

Department of Agriculture, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) The mission of the OSDBU is to provide maximum opportunities for small businesses to participate in USDA contracting activities by establishing and attaining small disadvantaged business program goals.

Department of Commerce The Commerce Department’s mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and stewardship.

Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) OSHA’s mission is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

GobiernoUSA.gov The U.S. government’s official Spanish language web portal.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) SCORE is a nonprofit organization that is federally supported to provide free business mentoring and low-cost training to aspiring and existing business owners.

Small Business Administration (SBA) The mission of the SBA is to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) SBDCs, which are located across the U.S., are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies. SBDC advisors provide free business consulting and low-cost training services including business plan development, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, procurement and contracting aid, and health care guidance.

Social Security Administration The Social Security Administration is the nation’s primary income security agency. It pays retirement, disability, and survivors benefits to workers and their families; administers the Supplemental Security Income program; and issues Social Security numbers.

State and Local Contacts The State and Local Government on the Net directory provides convenient one-stop access to the websites of thousands of state agencies and city and county governments.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) The DOL administers a variety of federal labor laws, including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions, a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay, freedom from employment discrimination, unemployment insurance, and other income support.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) The mission of the EEOC is to eradicate employment discrimination at the workplace.

USA.gov The U.S. government’s official Web portal.

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Chappaqua NY, Harrison NY, Scarsdale NY, White Plains NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Pound Ridge NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credits

  • Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions!

    Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

    Changes to the SBHCTC beginning in 2014:

    • The credit increases to 50 percent for small businesses and 35 percent for tax-exempt employers.
    • You must purchase insurance for your employees through SHOP.*
    • The credit is only available to you for 2 consecutive years.
    *SHOP, or Small Business Health Options Program, is the Health Insurance Marketplace for small business and tax-exempt employers.
    Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers
    Federal budget sequestration required cuts will reduce the refundable portion of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for certain small tax-exempt employers under the Internal Revenue Code section 45R. The refundable portion of the claim will be reduced by 8.7 percent.
    Review additional information about the effect of sequestration on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to see if this has potential impact for you.

    tax-credit-2Small businesses and tax-exempt organizations may be eligible for a valuable tax credit – the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. The credit applies to small employers who offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have, and is specifically targeted for those with low- and moderate-income workers. In general, the credit is available to small employers and tax-exempt organizations that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees.

    If you’re an employer who may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, you can use the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Estimator. The credit is designed to encourage small businesses to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. For some employers and tax-exempt organizations, this could save thousands of dollars by providing a credit against income tax (a refundable credit for certain tax-exempt organizations).

    For tax years 2010 through 2013, small businesses can claim up to 35 percent, and tax-exempt organizations can claim up to 25 percent. For tax years 2014 and later, there are changes to the credit.

    • Small businesses can claim up to 50 percent and tax-exempt organizations up to 35 percent.
    • You must purchase insurance for your employees through the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) Marketplace.
    • The credit is only available to you for two consecutive years.

    This tax credit is included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approved by Congress in early 2010, and signed into law by President Barack Obama. This credit is one of the first provisions of the bill to go into effect. Eligible small businesses and tax-exempt organizations can claim the credit as part of the general business credit starting with the 2010 income tax return they file in 2011.

     

    Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

    Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Chappaqua NY, Harrison NY, Scarsdale NY, White Plains NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Pound Ridge NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

Business Forms of Organization: FAQs

Scarsdale tax preparers at Herman & Company CPAs have all the answers to your personal finance questions!

Business Entity and Tax FAQs from Scarsdale NY accountant

Don’t let your business be a gamble when it comes to your taxes.

The following are FAQs our Westchester accounting experts regularly receive regarding business forms of organization and how to approach them. 

▼ Will some types of business organization or entity limit my liability to business creditors?

Yes. Limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and corporations are the most common forms. General partnerships and sole proprietorships don’t restrict owners’ liability, whereas limited partnerships limit liability of some partners (such as limited partners) and not others (like general partners).

▼ How can I avoid the “corporate double tax” and what exactly is it?

A “corporate double tax” happens when a business corporation (or an entity that is treated as a business corporation for tax purposes) pays a federal tax on its income, and then its owners pay another tax as they collect corporate profits. The “entity level tax” is the tax on the corporation and so an entity taxed in this way is called a “C corporation” or C corp.

Here are ways to avoid the double tax:

  • Become an S corporation, which doesn’t change the nature of the business under state business law but rather eliminates federal tax at the corporate level.
  • The second tax, which is on the owners, can be deferred by suspending profit distributions to corporate owners.
▼ For tax purposes, what type of business entity is best?

Each business is different, although to save on overall taxes a “passthrough” entity is generally best, as it eliminates tax at the entity level. Owners of passthrough entities are taxed on the profits of the entity that they own. Owners are able to make tax deductions for startup and operating losses, against the income from other businesses or investments.

▼ What entities are considered to be “passthrough”?

The leading “passthrough” forms are limited partnerships, LLCs, LLPs, S corps, sole proprietorships and general partnerships. You have a lot of power over whether or not your entity is treated as a passthrough for federal tax purposes.

If you have a partnership of any type or a limited liability company, it is possible to choose if your business functions as a corporation or partnership for tax purposes. This is called the “check-the-box” system by tax and business advisors. You can qualify to have it treated as a passthrough by choosing S corp. status if your entity is incorporated or if you elect to be treated as a corporation.

This decision is binding. This means if you select one entity one year and a different one the next, you will have to pay the taxes as though last year’s entity was sold and use those profits towards this year.

▼ To avoid double tax and limit my liability, which entity should I choose?

Assuming you don’t select to have them function as corporations, the following types will avoid double tax and limit liability: LLPs, LLCs, and limited partnerships (only for the limited partners). An S Corporation is usually another option. If you are a sole owner, the only option is an S Corp (or in certain states, LLCs).

▼ Why are limited liability companies (LLCs) so great?

Limited liability and passthrough tax treatment are both combined in LLCs. This provides benefits that are unavailable from S Corps. The main benefits are:

  • The possibility of greater loss deductions.
  • Tax benefits can be disproportionately distributed among owners.
  • When a new owner becomes a member of the business, or when allocations are given to owners in business liquidation, taxes are avoided or reduced.

LLCs are sometimes permitted to have a single owner – laws vary by state. If permitted, the owner has the opportunity to elect to be under the check-the-box rules.

A good alternative where sole ownership LLCs aren’t permitted is an S Corp. This structure will also defer tax, in comparison to LLCs, when a corporate giant is buying out the business.

▼ If my business is a professional practice, what are the special conditions?

A major concern is the limitation of liability, especially malpractice liability. Against the liability of your own malpractice, there is no entity that will protect you. For protection against liability for malpractice of co-owner professionals in the firm and possibly for other debts, Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs), LLCs, and LLPs, when accessible for professional practices, should be used. Depending on the state law, Professionals Corporations (PCs) might not offer protection from liability for a co-owner’s malpractice.

LLPs, PLLCs, and LLCs all have about the same tax rules that govern them while those for PCs are a little more liberal.

 If I change my form of business organization, what are the federal tax consequences?

A change of entity is an event that may need to be carefully planned and implemented to avoid a taxable event. It also may have significant future tax implications. You should consult with a professional before making any changes or decisions to your business organization.

 Is it necessary for state business entity rules to follow federal tax rules?

Bear in mind the differences between state tax law and state business law. Whatever tax status you select for your entity beneath the federal check-the-box system, keep in mind that you may be considered a different type of entity for state business law purposes. This means that if you choose corporate tax treatment for a partnership, it will not necessarily bring corporate limited liability.

A state normally treats the entity selected under federal check-the-box as the entity acknowledged for state tax purposes, but this is not always the case.

The law of a state may agree to passthrough status for an entity like an S Corp or an LLC, but still enforce some sort of tax on the entity.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions about these provisions or any other tax compliance/planning issues, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Mamaroneck NY, Armonk NY, Rye NY, Scarsdale NY, Tarrytown NY, Chappaqua NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

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Financing FAQs

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! business loan tips from westchester accountantThe following are FAQs our Westchester accounting firm regularly receives regarding options for different situations that may require financing.

▼ What can I do to raise money for my small business?

Although the process is complex and frustrating, raising capital is the most basic of all business activities. When looking for financing, there are various sources to consider. For most new businesses, the main source of capital comes from savings and other forms of personal resources. There are better options available than credit cards that are often used for financing, even a small business loan.

When beginning, entrepreneurs usually look to private sources like friends and family. Generally, the money is loaned at a low interest rate or interest free, which is very beneficial at the beginning.

The most common source of funding, not including personal resources, are credit unions and banks who will provide a loan if it is possible to show that your offer is worthwhile. Other sources are venture capital firms that aid businesses in exchange for partial or equity ownership.

 For business financing, what kinds of loans exist?

You must know the exact amount of money that you need, what your purpose is and how you will repay it in order to be successful in getting a loan. You must convince the lender in a written proposal that you are a good credit risk.

There are two basic kinds of loans, although terms vary by lender:

Short-term and long-term, maturity periods of up to one year are generally short-term, which include accounts receivable loans, working capital loans and lines of credit.

Maturities greater than a year and less than seven years is a typical long-term loan. Equipment and real estate loans can have maturity up to 25 years. Major business expenses such as purchasing real estate and facilities, durable equipment, construction, vehicles, furniture and fixtures, etc. are a few purposes for long-term loans.

▼ When considering a loan request, what do banks look for?

The bank official who reviews the loan request is focused on repayment. Most loan officers request a copy of your business credit report to determine your ability to repay.

The lending officer will consider the following issues while using the information you provided and the credit report:

  • Have you invested at least 25% or 50% of savings or personal equity into the business for the loan you are requesting? (Keep in mind that 100% of your business will not be financed by an investor.)
  • Do your work history, your credit report and letters of recommendation show a healthy record of credit worthiness? This is a key factor.
  • Do you have the training and experience necessary to operate a successful business?
  • Do your loan proposal and business plan document your knowledge of and dedication to the success of the business?
  • Is the cash flow of the business sufficient to make the monthly payments on the requested loan?

▼ What do I need to include in a good loan proposal?

The following main points should be contained in a good loan proposal:

General Information

  • Reason for the loan: the exact purpose of the loan and why it is necessary.
  • Amount needed: the specific amount needed to reach your goal.
  • Business name and address, names of officers and their social security numbers.

Description of Business

  • Describe the type of business you have, its age, current business assets, and number of employees.
  • Structure of ownership: describe the legal structure of the company.

Management Profile

  • Prepare a short statement that is focused on each principal in your business; give details about education, background, accomplishments and skills.

Market Information

  • State clearly the products of your company as well as its markets. Name the competition and explain how you plan to compete in the market. Describe what the business will do to satisfy the needs of its customers.

Financial Information

  • Submit your own personal financial statements as well as those of the principal business owners.
  • Financial statements: the income statements and balance sheets for the past three years. If you have a new business, provide the projected balance sheet and income statement.
  • Specify the collateral that you are able and willing to give as security for the loan.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions about these provisions or any other tax compliance/planning issues, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford NY, Bronxville NY, Purchase NY, Rye Brook NY, Larchmont NY, Pound Ridge NY, Scarsdale NY, Stamford CT and beyond. 

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Incorporating: FAQs

Scarsdale CPA Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! Business Incorporating FAQs from Scarsdale Accountant The following are questions our Westchester CPA firm frequently receives regarding incorporating businesses:
▼ What is the definition of a corporation?

A legal entity that exists independently of its owners is a corporation. When correctly filled out articles of incorporation are filed with the proper state authority and all fees are paid, a corporation is created.

▼ There is a difference between an “S” corporation and a “C” corporation, what is it?

Every corporation begins as a “C” corporation and must pay income tax on the taxable income made by the corporation. After filing federal form 2553 with the IRS, a “C” corporation becomes an S corporation. The net income or loss of an “S” corporation is included in their personal tax returns and are “passed-through” to the shareholders. There is no double taxation as with “C” corporations because income tax is not taxed at the corporate level. Also known as Subchapter “S” corporations, they are limited to 100 shareholders.

 Is an attorney necessary to incorporate?

Obtaining a lawyer is not a necessity to incorporate (except in South Carolina, where an attorney’s signature is required). You can fill out and file the articles of incorporation by yourself in every other state. However, you should be completely briefed on all aspects of the law beforehand.

A good corporate attorney can be an irreplaceable resource to a small business despite the expensive hourly rates. A one-hour consultation can be very beneficial if you are unsure of the process, or if there isn’t time for research. Prepare a list of questions before the consultation.

▼ Is there a process for naming my corporation?

Take time to think about a name for your corporation. The most common rule for naming your corporation is that it cannot be misleadingly similar to a company that is already formed, but each state has their own rules. A suffix must be included in the corporation name such as “Incorporated”, “Inc.”, “Company”, and “Corp.” Each state has suffix standards of their own.

▼ Are there benefits to incorporating?

Limiting your liability to the assets of the corporation is the primary advantage of incorporating. It is common that shareholders are not responsible for the debts or obligations of the corporation. Unless you didn’t personally sign for the loan and your corporation defaults on it, your personal assets are safe. With a sole proprietorship or partnership, this is not the case. There are many tax advantages that are available to corporations and not sole proprietors.

A few of the advantages are:

  • A corporation allows for easier setup of retirement funds and qualified retirement plans (such as a 401k).
  • The life of a corporation is not limited and is not dependent upon its members. The corporation will continue to prosper and do business even if an owner dies or wants to sell their interest.
  • A corporation has a centralized management.
  • It is easy to transfer ownership of a corporation.
  • With the sale of stock, capital can be raised more easily.
▼ What exactly is a Registered Agent?

In the majority of states, a corporation is required to name a “registered agent.” The agent must be located in the formation state. The registered agent must be accessible during regular business hours to receive official state documents or service of process.

▼ Do I need a specific number of Directors or Shareholders?

Most states permit one person to function as director, shareholder, and all officer roles.

 Are there a number of shares of stock I should choose and at what par value?

You may select any quantity that you wish. The par value is either “No Par Value” or any dollar amount per share as you choose. In some states you must issue the stock for no less than the par value. Some states establish their fees from the amount of shares approved, multiplied by the par value.

▼ What does EIN stand for and what is a Federal Tax Identification Number?

A Federal Tax Identification Number, which is also known as a Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required for each corporation so the IRS may track payroll and income taxes paid by the corporation. Just as a Social Security number, an EIN is used for almost every function of the business.

▼ After I incorporate, what do I do next?

If your director(s) have yet to be designated in the articles, you will need to hold your first shareholder meeting to select your director(s). After that, you will need to hold the first organizational meeting of directors. During this meeting, you will hold elections for officers, approve the company’s bylaws and issue your stock, as well as other actions.

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman is here to help you with all your personal finance needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Larchmont NY, Tarrytown NY, Bedford NY, Dobbs Ferry NY, Scarsdale NY, Katonah NY, Armonk NY, Pound Ridge NY and beyond.

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Limited Liability Companies: FAQs

Scarsdale CPA Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! LLC FAQs from Scarsdale CPAThe following are questions our Westchester CPA firm frequently receives regarding Limited Liability Companies:
 Who should establish an LLC?

If you are worried about personal exposure to lawsuits that arise from your company, you should think about forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company). For instance, you might be concerned that your commercial liability insurance will not completely protect your personal assets from possible slip-and-fall lawsuits or claims by your suppliers for unpaid invoices if you open a storefront business that works directly with the public. An LLC gives you personal protection from these and other possible claims again your business.

However, not every business can function as an LLC. Businesses typically prohibited from establishing LLCs are those in the banking, trust and insurance industries.

 Is an LLC or an S corporation better?

Even though the special tax status of the S corporation does away with double taxation, it doesn’t have the elasticity of an LLC in distributing income to the owners.

Various classes of membership interests are offered with an LLC, whereas you can only have one type of stock with an S corporation.

In an LLC, a variety of individuals or entities may have interests, although the number of shareholders who can have ownership interest is restricted to no more than 100. C corporations, many trusts, LLCs, nonresident aliens, partnerships, or other S corporations may not have ownership of S corporations. It is also important to note that LLCs are permitted to have subsidiaries without limitations.

▼ What does an LLC Operating Agreement signify?

It allows you to structure your financial and working relations with your co-owners in a way that best fits your company. Your co-owners and you determine each owner’s percentage of ownership in the LLC, his/her rights and responsibilities, his/her share of gains or losses, and what will become of the business in case one owner leaves.

 Is it necessary to have an Operating Agreement?

It is possible to have a written operating agreement in most states, but you are not advised to begin a business without one. The following are a few reasons why an operating agreement is necessary:

  • By showing that you have been meticulous about organizing your LLC, it aids in guaranteeing that courts will be respectful of your personal liability protection.
  • Rules that regulate how profits will be separated, the process for making major business decisions, and the measures for handling the departure and addition of members are established.
  • It aids in avoiding misunderstandings between the owners and management over finances.
  • It prevents your LLC from being regulated by the default rules in the LLC laws of your state, which may not be to your advantage.
▼ Is it necessary to have LLC meetings?

Failure to have shareholder or director meetings can cause the corporation to be subject to alter ego liability, although this is not typical of LLCs in most states. For example, in California the failure of an LLC to have meetings with members or managers is normally not regarded as grounds for enforcing the alter ego doctrine if the LLCs Articles of Organization or Operating Agreement do not state the requirement of said meetings.

▼ Are there exceptions to Limited Liability?

Even though LLC owners enjoy the benefits of limited personal liability for many transactions of their business, it is important to note that this protection is not absolute. The owner of the LLC may be held personally responsible if he/she:

  • purposefully does something illegal, fraudulent, or clearly wrong that causes injury to the company or someone else
  • is unsuccessful in depositing taxes withheld from employees’ wages, or personally certifies a business debt or a bank loan that the LLC defaults on
  • personally and directly hurts someone, or
  • acts as the LLC in the broadening of his or her personal affairs instead of an individual legal entity.

The most important is the final exception. There are times when a court may declare that an LLC isn’t real and find that its owners are actually conducting business as individuals who are in fact responsible for their actions. To prevent this, be sure that your co-owners and you:

  • Act legally and rationally. Do not hide or misrepresent material facts or the position of your finance to creditors, vendors or other third parties.
  • Sufficiently fund your LLC. In order to meet foreseeable expenses and liabilities, make sure to invest adequate funds into the business.
  • Maintain the LLC and personal business separate. Maintain your personal finances away from your LLC accounting books. Create a business-only checking account and obtain a federal employer identification number.
  • Prepare an operating agreement. To create liability for your LLC’s separate existence, a formal operating agreement in writing is helpful.

When your limited liability protection doesn’t shield your personal assets, a good liability insurance policy will help. For example, if you are a massage therapist and you hurt a customer’s back by accident, you will be covered by your liability insurance policy. This insurance also comes into play to protect your personal assets in the event that the court ignores your limited liability status.

This insurance can also protect your corporate assets from claims and lawsuits, as well as protect your personal assets in certain situations. However, it is important to realize that commercial insurance typically doesn’t protect corporate or personal assets from unpaid debts of the business, whether they’re personally insured or not.

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman is here to help you with all your personal finance needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Scarsdale NY, Mamaroneck NY, Purchase NY, Rye NY, White Plains NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

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How to Resolve a Consumer Complaint

 Scarsdale CPA Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! In the business world, consumer complaints are inevitable. However, approaching the complaint using these steps is your guaranteed way to solve the issue at hand, leaving both you and your customer satisfied! 

How to Handle Complaints from Scarsdale Accountant

Nobody likes to deal with a complaint. Luckily, these steps will help your business handle them with ease!

You should first approach the seller of the item. Then, get in touch with the relevant consumer agency. If neither of the previous provides adequate results, a lawsuit can be filed or you may use arbitration.

 

Approach the Seller

  1. Compile all necessary evidence such as canceled checks, receipt, photographs showing the issue, a warranty, bill of sale or contract.
  2. Determine your goal. Would you like the product replaced? Would you like a refund? Are you just looking for an apology?
  3. Schedule a meeting with the manager, customer service representative or other appropriate person by calling the store or service provider. In this meeting with the individual, describe as clearly as possible the nature of the issue and what your goal is. If you can only speak by phone, write a letter as follow-up and keep detailed notes of the dates and with whom you spoke with. It is important to note that if there is a valid warranty for the product, it is best to follow-up with the manufacturer and not the merchant.
  4. Take the issue to a higher level, if this doesn’t find a solution. This could be the corporate president or supervisor. At this point, you should put your complaint in writing if you have yet to do so. This letter should detail your name, phone numbers, address, and account number (if applicable). Include the date and place of purchase as well as the model and serial number if a product is involved. Concisely describe the issue at hand and the process you have gone through so far to reach a solution. Lastly, you should include what outcome you want and state a deadline for this outcome. Keep a copy of the letter for yourself and include relevant copies of documents. Make sure you keep the originals and retain copies of any correspondence you receive from the company.

Get in touch with an agency

If your desired goal has yet to be reached, you will want to look in the phone for a consumer complaint agency, such as the county, city or state consumer protection office or the Better Business Bureau.

Another option is to go with the trade association method. There are industry trade associations that will offer to aid in mediating issues with regards to their members.

You may want to get in touch with the appropriate state-banking regulator if your issue deals with a bank. If an insurer is involved, you will want to get in touch the state insurance regulator, for a securities problem contact the securities regular or for utilities problems contact the public utilities commission.

Call the state-licensing department if you the issue deals with a state-licensed trade, such as a plumber.

Research the lemon laws of your state, unless you reside in Arkansas or South Dakota, by getting in touch with your state consumer protections agency in the event that you purchased a bad used car.

Get in contact with your area postal inspector, whose information can be located in the U.S. government section of the telephone book, for issues that pertain to mail order or mail fraud.

Look into finding a local television news program hotline for resolving consumer complaints.

Filing a lawsuit

When there are no more options, you will want to file a court case in either small claims court, if the amount is small (usually less than $5000) or if not, a regular lawsuit.

More than likely speaking with an attorney and having them draft a letter to the merchant or service provider giving the details about the lawsuit will resolve the issue.

You probably won’t need to hire a lawyer if a small claims case is involved. If the case is bigger than small claims, you will want to hire a lawyer.

Scarsdale  accountant Paul Herman is here to help you with all your personal finance needs. Please contact us for all inquiries and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Larchmont NY, Scarsdale NY, Rye NY, Purchase NY, Bedford NY, Katonah NY, White Plains NY and beyond.

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Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.