BHT&D Certified Public Accountants Blog

How to File Taxes After Saying 'I Do'

Posted by Joe Turnes on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 @ 01:21 PM

A taxpayer’s filing status for the year is based upon his or her marital status at the close of the tax year. Thus, if you get married on the last day of the tax year, you are treated as married for the entire year. The options for married couples are to file jointly or separately. Both statuses can result in surprises – some pleasant and some unpleasant – for individuals who previously filed as unmarried.

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Tags: Individual Tax Return, Tax Planning

Would A Mid-Year Tax Checkup Benefit You?

Posted by Joe Turnes on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

If you are inclined to procrastinate until the end of the year or, even worse, until tax-filing season to worry about your taxes, you may be missing out on opportunities to reduce your tax and avoid certain penalties.

The following are some events that can affect your tax return; you may need to take steps to mitigate their impact and avoid unpleasant surprises after it is too late to address them.

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Tags: Tax Planning, Small Business Accounting, Tax Liability

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Unpaid Taxes?

Posted by Joe Turnes on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

If you have unpaid taxes that you haven't yet been making payments toward, it might make you fearful that the IRS will come a-knocking one day to collect on what you owe. Tax debt can quickly snowball from interest, penalties, late fees, and the amount of the taxes due.

However, a lot of the scaremongering surrounding the IRS is largely sensationalized in media and daily conversation. Agents won't come bursting through your door just because you have tax debt. Instead, they must follow due process in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA). This means that you will always receive written notice concerning your balance due as well as collection actions and any requests for payment plans or settling your account.

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Tags: Business Tax, Tax Return, State Income Tax, IRS Tax Return Audit, Individual Tax, Tax Liability

10 Vital Questions To Consider Before Starting A Business

Posted by Joe Turnes on Fri, Jun 28, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

Starting a small business can be one of the most exciting and rewarding events in someone’s life. But it can also be extremely stressful. If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, you might have more questions swirling around in your mind right now than you can count. Don’t despair. This is completely normal. After all, it shows you’re serious about your business venture and care enough to want to do things the right way. Before moving forward with a new business idea, ensuring you know the answers to the following vital questions is crucial. 

1. Does your startup idea meet a need? 
Before starting a small business, you need to know if your product or service will meet a need those in your target market have. It doesn’t matter how special your potential product or service offerings are to you. If you can’t convince others to care about them, your small business won’t be a success. 

2. Is your plan feasible?
Learning things on the fly isn’t smart in the business world. Rather than taking a blind leap of faith, determine if your plan is actually feasible before moving forward. For instance, will you be able to afford to put your plan into action? Will your loved ones commit to the ways this venture might affect them? Starting a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. Do you have the ambition and determination to see your vision through? 

3. How much financing do you need? 
Not adequately estimating financing needs is a common mistake of entrepreneurs. To avoid this pitfall, strive to perform an accurate cost analysis. Approximate both foreseen and unexpected expenses for the first year. Also, determine how long it will take you to become profitable. When creating a cost analysis, be realistic. Don’t count on things going perfectly. Despite your best efforts, they most certainly won’t. 

4. Where will your company be located? 
The type of small business you want to start will largely determine where it should be located. For example, you wouldn’t attempt to open a ski lodge in sunny, balmy Florida. Generally, you’ll want to find a location with lots of foot traffic. If you’re a new entrepreneur looking to break into an already crowded market, locating your business near your competitors might be a good idea. According to Biz Brain, you’ll already have a built-in market in the location. But if you’re competing in a saturated market with major brand-name competition, locating your business a short distance away from your competitors may be your best bet. 

5. Who will comprise your customer base? 
If you’re thinking about starting a small business, you likely already have a vague idea about who will comprise your customer base. However, delving into the profiles of potential clients of your company is a smart idea. During this research, you can study characteristics such as age, gender, buying triggers and general preferences. This should help you fine-tune your marketing efforts and target your products or services to the people who would most benefit from them. 

6. When can you expect to be profitable? 
The old adage is that you should expect to wait at least a year until your startup becomes profitable. But times are changing. Innovations in technology and communication mean entrepreneurs can start companies with little to no overhead nowadays. This rings especially true for service-oriented companies. Therefore, having an astute business plan is essential. A good business plan will help you predict when you may start turning a profit. 

7. What setbacks can you anticipate? 
The road to small business success can be a bumpy one, so anticipating setbacks is important. One of the most common ones is failing to meet revenue expectations. This can sometimes be blamed on overestimating the amount of business your company will generate in the early days of its existence. A second setback startups can face is losing vital employees. If you plan to start a sole proprietorship, this isn’t an issue. But if you’re launching a business venture with one or more partners, someone might decide to jump ship. To prevent your company from disintegrating into shambles, develop an exit plan that can be utilized if a partner wants to get out. 

8. Do you need solid advisors? 
Starting a small business can be overwhelming. This is especially the case if you try to do everything yourself. Surprisingly, the CountingWorks What Small Business Owners Value Most in 2019 survey reveals that 60% of small business owners handle their budgeting themselves. Unfortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s 2018 Frequently Asked Questions says only about half of small businesses survive past five years. To boost your chances of long-term success, surround yourself with solid advisors. For instance, experienced financial advisors can help you with accurate budgeting. Legal advisors can assist you with contracts and permits. 

9. How will you lure the best talent to your company? 
Obviously, offering prospective employees a competitive salary can help you lure the best talent to your company. But when you’re just starting a business, this might not be an option. To compensate for this, providing employees with growth bonuses is a good alternative. Offering employees flexible scheduling options and wellness perks such as an onsite gym, a break room stocked with healthy snacks, and standing desks may also attract promising talent to your company. 

10. Should you start more than one company at once? 
Do you have multiple ideas for new small businesses? Perhaps you’re eager to get more than one startup running at the same time. While this might be tempting, starting out with one company is best. You can put all your energy into getting it profitable and stable. This will prevent you from spreading yourself and your resources too thin. You can always branch out later if your first business takes off. 

Starting a business can be quite an undertaking. Therefore, planning correctly and thoroughly is critical. Please feel free to contact one of our CPAs at (616) 642-9467 or request a complimentary accounting consultation.

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Tags: Small Business, Business Entity, Strategic Planning, Tax Liability

Disappointed In Your Tax Refund?

Posted by Joe Turnes on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

If your tax refund is less than you anticipated, you are not alone. In a report issued by the Treasury Department on February 14, the average refund it is paying in 2019 has dropped to $1,949 from $2,135 in the prior year. In addition, the number of returns filed so far has dropped from 13.5 million last year to 11.4 million this year for the same period.

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Tags: Tax Reform, Tax Liability, Tax Refund

Rental Owners! Do You Know If You Qualify For The 20% Pass-Through Deduction?

Posted by Chuk Gottschall on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

Ever since tax reform was passed, over a year ago, taxpayers have been uncertain whether rental property will be classified as a trade or business for purposes of qualifying for the new IRC Sec 199A 20% pass-through deduction (commonly referred to as the 199A deduction).

Finally, on January 18, 2019, the IRS issued a notice which provided “safe harbor” conditions under which a rental real estate activity will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the 199A deduction.

It’s important to note that this notice prescribes several conditions that must be met for a rental real estate enterprise (a tax term introduced by the IRS in this notice) to be deemed to be a trade or business and eligible for the section 199A 20% deduction. For purposes of this safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise is defined as an interest in real property held for the production of rents and may consist of an interest in multiple properties.

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Tags: Tax Deductions, Small Business, Tax Reform, Rental Real Estate

Are You An S Corporation Stockholder? Are You Taking Reasonable Compensation In The Form Of Wages?

Posted by Joe Turnes on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 @ 05:00 AM

S corporation compensation requirements are often misunderstood and abused by owner-shareholders. An S corporation is a type of business structure in which the business does not pay income tax at the corporate level and instead distributes (passes through) the income, gains, losses, and deductions to the shareholders for inclusion on their individual income tax returns. If there are gains, these distributions are considered return on investment and therefore are not subject to self-employment taxes.

However, if stockholders also work in the business, they are supposed to take reasonable compensation for their services in the form of wages, and of course, wages are subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) and other payroll taxes. This is where some owner-shareholders err by not paying themselves a reasonable compensation for the services they provide, some out of unfamiliarity with the requirements and some purposely to avoid the payroll taxes.

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Tags: Small Business Accounting, Payroll Tax, Individual Tax, Business Entity, Tax Liability

2019 Michigan Employer Updates

Posted by Beth Thomas on Wed, Jan 02, 2019 @ 01:00 PM

On Friday, December 14, 2018, Governor Rick Snyder signed revisions to both the Mandatory Paid Medical Leave Act and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (minimum wage). These revisions gradually phase in upcoming increases in minimum wage rate and enact mandatory paid sick leave. 

The minimum wage rate will now increase from $9.25 per hour to $9.45 per hour in 2019, with annual increases thereafter up to $12.05 in 2030.  The minimum wage rate for tipped employees will remain at 38% of the hourly minimum wage, increasing to $4.58 per hour by 2030.

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Tags: Payroll, Compensation, Michigan Employer

Special Wage And Benefit Reporting For 2%+ Shareholders Of S-Corporations.

Posted by Lori Shepard on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 @ 07:00 AM

2% or more shareholders of an S-corporation (and family members) are not treated as an employee when it comes to most benefits.  Please see the table below for benefits that are taxable and for benefits that are tax-free to a 2% or more shareholder (and family members) of an S-corporation:

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Tags: Business Tax, Taxable Benefits

How Will Alimony Payments Be Taxed After 2018?

Posted by Joe Turnes on Fri, Nov 09, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

Alimony is the term used for payments to a separated spouse or ex-spouse as part of a divorce or separation agreement. Since 1985, to be alimony for tax purposes, the payments:

  • Must be in cash, paid to the spouse, ex-spouse, or a third party on behalf of a spouse or ex-spouse; 
  • Must be required by a decree or instrument incident to a divorce, a written separation agreement, or a support decree;
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Tags: Tax Reform, Individual Tax, TCJA, Strategic Planning, Alimony