Author Archives: CPAsteve

Make More Profits With Regular Financial Statements

Most successful business managers use financial statements and other special reports to generate higher profits. If you haven’t been using all the financial tools available to you, here are some ideas to get you started.



There is no need to feel intimidated by financial statements. If your company’s record system is properly designed, you should be getting regular financial reports that are easy to understand. In addition to the traditional balance sheet and income statement, you should get special reports and ratios specific to your industry. You will be able to use this past performance information to help you create higher profits for your company.



Accurate financial reports compared with industry standards and with your company’s past performance will also serve as an early warning system of problems or opportunities which need your attention.



How do you get the best financial information at the least cost? To begin with, there are three basic levels of financial statements: compiled statements, reviewed statements, and audited statements. The type of report you need may be specified by your banker or by an absentee owner. An owner who lives out of the area may require a higher level of report than one who works closely with the business.



Compiled statements Compiled statements are management’s information put in the form of financial statements. The accountant is making no assurances as to the accuracy of the information in those statements. Because of the limited involvement by the accountant, this is the least expensive level of statements.



Reviewed statements require more involvement by the accountant than is required for compilations, but less than is required for audited financial statements. The accountant needs to obtain a general understanding of the business’s organization. There will be little or no verification of specific figures on the financial statements. Reviewed statements are often required by lenders and owners who do not require a full audit.



Audited statements are the highest level of financial statements. Accountants must spend whatever time is necessary to allow them to express an opinion as to the accuracy of the numbers on those statements. Because of the time involved, audited statements are the most expensive financial statements. Unless an audit is required by outsiders, reviewed or compiled statements should do nicely for your company.



Do not hesitate to ask for assistance to leverage your financial information to enhance the profitability of your business.



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Copyright 2019 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

More about Scammers

Beware of Scammers Preying on Your Generous Nature The IRS and numerous other nonprofit agencies are warning Americans to be weary of scammers trying to take advantage of their generosity after major catastrophes like Hurricanes Florence and Michael.   “We applaud our client’s desires to want to help in times of crisis,” says Steven Feinberg, CPA and owner of Appletree Business Services. “What we want to avoid is unnecessary stress and even criminal charges if that client makes a donation to a criminal organization instead of a truly reputable and worthy cause.”   Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in person using a variety of methods.

 

  • Pose as representatives acting on behalf of charities or private institutions to solicit cash donations.
  • Bogus websites using names, branding and colors similar to legitimate charities to trick donors to send money or provide personal information such as bank account routing numbers, credit cards or other data.
  • Claim to be members of the IRS working to help victims to file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. The IRS will never solicit taxpayers for this purpose.

  What can you do? If you are a disaster victim and need information on tax relief or other disaster-related tax concerns, call the IRS Special Services Help Line at 866-562-5227. Details on accessing additional information can also be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.   Donate wisely. If you wish to donate, make sure they are real charities. You can verify the prospective charity, by visiting the IRS website at IRS.gov and using the Tax Exempt Organization Search feature. Here you will be able to find or verify qualified charities.   How much goes to the charity? Before you click ‘donate’ take a minute to research the charity online. You can do this by searching on the charity’s name plus key phrases like, “review”, “compliant”, “rating” or “scam”. The consumer section of the Federal Trade Commission’s website also recommends the following organizations to view reports and ratings for nonprofits:  

 

  • BBC Wise Giving Alliance
  • Charity Navigator
  • CharityWatch
  • GuideStar

Know the Scammers M.O. Scammers and criminals always have a pattern to their schemes. Look out for some of the following tell-tale signs and just say, No!  

 

  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a contribution. No matter what they say, no one will die if you don’t donate $20 right this minute!
  • Thank you. Don’t be tricked by a scammer calling to thank you for a donation you know you’ve never made. Scammers will start by thanking you and then subtly ‘ask’ for additional donations to support the cause you already ‘love’.
  • Listen carefully. Scammers will use charity names that sound oddly similar to real organizations but are not. Ask for specifics, federal tax identification numbers (and verify them) and specifics on how your donation will be used.
  • Never donate gift cards or money transfers. No reputable charity will ask you to go out and purchase gift cards on their behalf or wire money via Western Union or other agency. Always pay by check or credit card so the amounts can be traced and rescinded, if necessary.
  • Sweepstakes. Callers who promise to guarantee sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation are SCAMMERS. It is illegal to offer such incentives in order to solicit a donation.

 

You’ve been scammed, now what? If you have made a donation to what you now believe is a scam, take action. You can report scams to your local police, the FTC.gov/complaint, and your state charity regulator. Write down any information you can remember about what the organization asked for, their phone number or website address, and details about your conversation.  

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Choosing a Charity Wisely For Your Small Business

After setting up and successfully running your own small business, it’s an empowering and fulfilling thing to know you can give back to your community or really support a cause in which you believe. In addition to giving back to the community, you can also take advantage of tax deductions for your charitable contributions during tax season. However you choose to give as a small business, you should make wise choices in giving that will give you a real sense of satisfaction, reflect positively on your business, and also not cheat you on your generous dollars.

 

Before you write that check, set a plan in place for how much you would like to budget for charitable giving each year. That way you can spread out your charitable contributions and provide a framework for what types of charities and the total annual amount your business can afford to give.

 

Here are some safety tips to guide you:

 

Choose a charity or cause wisely. If you are not very familiar with a charity’s work, investigate the group before you make your donation. Overall, it is best to contribute to an organization that you already know. You may also inquire about the exact service or activity your funds will end up supporting. Honest charities should be willing to communicate with their donors about their spending activities. Additionally, it does pay to do a little research on your chosen charities to be sure that they are legitimate nonprofit organizations. Try using online verification sites such as Charity Navigator to review ratings and check the status of your prospective nonprofit with objective feedback from other users.

 

For tax purposes, ensure that the charity is tax-deductible. Some nonprofit organizations participate in political activities that prevent them from accepting tax-deductible donations. If you donate to these organizations, you will not be able to deduct your donation on your federal tax return. If the organization is “tax exempt,” this simply means that they do not have to pay taxes, but it does not necessarily mean that your donations are tax-deductible. Ask the organization for its tax status to be clear and look for a nonprofit 501c3 federal status.

 

Be sure to obtain and keep a record of your donation. In addition to helping you properly manage your bookkeeping and cash flow, having a record for your donation will also be needed to deduct taxes at year end. If you contribute less than $250, you may present a bank record, a cancelled check or a receipt or letter from the charity. The receipt or letter must have the organization’s name, the date, and the amount that you donated. If you contribute more than $250, the IRS will not accept a cancelled check alone – you will have to furnish a receipt from the charity.

 

Be careful when donating online. Donating to a charity online offers many conveniences, but can also be disadvantageous. When donating to a charity online, make sure you are already familiar with the charity, then make sure there is a working contact for the charity. A physical address and phone number are fair indications that the charity is not a scam. Be sure that the organization is still current with the information you view on their website. Many nonprofits do not update their websites regularly. Be sure the site uses encryption technology to protect your personal payment information, and also make sure there is a privacy policy. Print out the confirmation of your donation and keep it for your records and for tax filing. Donations to foreign charities are not – of course – tax deductible.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Knowing Your Small Business Year-End Reporting Obligations

It is not uncommon for small businesses to put aspects of their accounting on the backburner, until the end of the year rears its head. At this time, businesses begin to feel the squeeze for having – all their financial papers and bookkeeping in order. On top of all that, as an employer, you also have the responsibility for preparing and distributing required federal forms such as W-2 and 1095s for wage and health care reporting respectively.

Before you panic, let’s review the list of required reporting, forms and documents and prioritize them by deadlines.

Remember that there are two parts to providing employees or independent contractors with data required to complete their individual tax returns – the employee reporting and employer required reporting to the IRS.

 

January 31:

  • W-2 – Form W-2 provides employees with a summarization of all their payroll wages, earnings, pre-ad post-tax healthcare, cafeteria plans, retirement accounts, loans, or other legally required payments.
  • W3 – is the summary document that must be filed to the IRS to report the total number of W-2 forms distributed to employees.
  • 1099-MISC – Form 1099-MISC provides earnings information to independent contractors who are not ’employees’ of an organization, but have been paid to perform work.
  • 1096- summary document that must be filed to the IRS.
  • 1095-C – If the business is an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) with more than 50 full time employees, the Form 1095 must be provided to employees to provide information on the business’s health care offer of minimal essential coverage (MEC) and affordability.
  • 941, 943, 940 –
    • Form 941 – an employer’s way of reporting IRS withholdings taken from an employee’s pay.
    • Form 943 – This form works the same as the Form 941 except it is used for agricultural employers.
    • Form 940 – Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return – This form is coupled with an employer’s last quarterly FUTA payment and outlines how much of the tax was paid each quarter.

Februrary 28:

  • 1095-C and 1094 . If you are paper filing these forms, you have until this date to send them to the IRS. If you are efiling, you have until April 1.

March 15 :

  • 1120S and1065 – These are forms a company must file for reporting S Corporation and Partnership taxes.

April 15 (or date specific to a company’s tax year):

  • 1120 – These are forms a company must file for reporting C Corporation taxes, due 3 1/2 months after their fiscal yearend.

 

Why You Should Hire a Small Business Accountant Rather Than Go It Alone

While waiting until the last minute to get yourself organized and informed about your small business taxes is not recommended, hiring a small business tax professional can help you get on track and stay there. Organization is the key element to making your tax preparation and filing a smooth process. If organization of receipts and financial papers is not your strong suit, hiring a bookkeeper or accountant can do you good as they will solely focus on this essential small business record keeping.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Figure Out Your Small Business Software

There are many different types of accounting software available for small businesses such as industry leader, QuickBooks, and online resources like Freshbooks, GoDaddy Bookkeeping, and Xero all enable small businesses to keep track of expenses, accounts receivable, bank reconciliation, checkbook registers and even create profit and loss statements.

 

Deciding which software is right for your growing enterprise can be complicated. Here’s a brief list of some of the best features and how these programs can fit into your business’ needs.

 

Quickbooks –  One of the most popular accounting programs in the small business world for a very good reason, Quickbooks has evolved over the past several years into a user-friendly software package that includes almost any feature a small business owner might need. On top of that, the technical customer support offered is top notch. It offers time tracking, payroll, customer and vendor portals, and inventory tracking. New versions even offer mobile access.

 

Freshbooks – newly redesigned from the ground up in 2017, Freshbooks provides an exceptional user experience with improved collaboration. This software is great for independent contractors and freelancers who need to track multiple clients and maintain strict control of their finances. Time tracking is available allowing the user to track hours or even partial hours worked so they can be billed at a later time. The recent updates did provide new insights and functionality, but did miss the mark with some of the reporting and customer records missing from the upgrade. Hopefully, future releases will bring back some of those loved features.

 

GoDaddy Bookkeeping – Another solid program for freelancers and independent contractors, GoDaddy Bookkeeping provides all major A/R and A/P transaction forms, time tracking, and live support.  With one of the lowest pricing structures, this software can fill an immediate need for accounting controls to get your freelance business up and operational. The software integrates with Amazon, eBay and Etsy making it easy to link sale directly to your bookkeeping. Bear in mind, that if you are looking for an expandable, scalable software, this one may need to be replaced with a more robust option down the line.

 

Xero – This double-entry accounting app excels at many of the small business basics such as records and transactions that support sales, purchases, and even payroll.  If you are a little more software savvy, you won’t miss the phone or tech support that other programs provide, but the lower cost may offset that pain.  Be advised that payroll tax management is not available for all states, so do your research before you buy.  

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Obvious ways to Save in Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you know how imperative it is for your business to save money. Entrepreneurs need to be nimble, resourceful,  and creative to keep the business robust enough to survive the ever-changing tides of a changing global economy. With gross receipts of less than $1 million annually, small businesses often live with very tight margins, cash flow fluctuations and more dramatic ebbs and flows in sales volumes. Having money to fall back on during the rainy seasons can really help a business remain steady while the storm passes, or bounce back after a challenging period. There are a number of strategies to help save money and increase cash flow to grow your business.

  • Turn out the lights.  Seriously. Electronic waste is one of the more obvious and costly ways a business can lose money without really noticing. Lights, computers, and machines kept running for long periods when they are not in use can quickly increase costs on your monthly electric bills.  Wherever possible, invest in motion lights and energy-saving bulbs and talk seriously with your employees about shutting down computers and other machinery at the end of a day. Local electric companies have business savings programs that include on-site evaluations and rebates for switching older fluorescent lighting to energy-saving dimmable LED lights that are not only more cost-efficient, but can help with harsh lighting and even reduce eye strain and migraines in employees.

 

  • Shop around and negotiate. Before you dish out money on supplies, equipment, or services, shop around. Check out other companies selling similar products or services and compare their quality, prices, and offers. Many people spend more on products or services that they could have purchased for less elsewhere. Ask about discounts and don’t be afraid to negotiate with your suppliers

 

  • Lease equipment. Depending on your business needs and how your write off your purchases, it may make sense to lease equipment versus buying it outright.  Leasing allows you to pay less than full market price for the item(s), the ability to turn it in for upgrades sooner with less costs, include maintenance costs into the lease,  and if you wish to purchase the item at the end of the lease, negotiate the value upon purchase. Conversely, leasing may add up to higher end costs for the item and if it is a long-term lease, you may end up owning the item for longer than your originally intended, so be sure you buy quality items that will outlast their lease agreement.

 

  • Use recycled or used supplies or equipment whenever possible.

 

  • Know your tax deductions. Your business may qualify for several tax deductions each year. Make sure you understand your tax situation and plan for purchases, rebates and other tax incentives in advance of any new initiatives.

 

  • Watch your spending. It is easy to get carried away with your spending – you may not need an expensive piece of abstract art for your waiting area when there are many less expensive, just as lovely options available. On the other hand, that piece may translate to added value and customer appeal, depending on the kind of business you’re running. You know what you need and what you don’t – don’t spend money on items that are really unnecessary and that won’t redeem their worth.

 

  • Use electronic communication methods such as e-mail, GoTo Meetings, and Video conferences whenever possible.  Not only can to reduce travel expenses to clients, but you can save countless hours of lost travel time out of the office by working virtually. Sometimes you do need to make those face-to-face meetings with clients, so make those meeting opportunities really count. Send a set agenda, so clients can budget their time accordingly and you can add additional client visits on your journey.  For other times, a video conference will do the trick saving you and your client the additional time out of work. Take advantage of the technology available to you – it will save you the cost of manhours, travel, and lost productivity.

 

  • Use bulk shipping and mailing. By scheduling your shipments for certain times or days, you can take advantage of lower delivery expenses as well as special post office rates.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Strategizing Charity Under The New Tax Act

There are many winners and losers from the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017, and nonprofits may be one of the biggest losers. While you may still plan on contributing to your local charity in 2018 and beyond, it will be harder for you to receive the tax benefit due to an increase in the standard deduction.  While not everyone gives to charity to take a tax deduction, there will be a substantial downshift in the quantity and frequency of contributions that nonprofits may start to see. The upside is that these impacts are ‘temporary’ as a part of the TCJA and will phase out by 2025 unless extended by Congress.

 

What’s changed?

 

A major part of the TCJA was a simplification in tax filing. This streamlining resulted in an increase in the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for single individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples.  It is estimated that the approximate 30 percent of tax payers who currently itemize their deductions will drop to about 6 percent in 2018. That translates to a drop of between $12 billion to $20 billion in charitable giving and charitable tax deductions according to the Tax Policy Center. Less itemized deductions means less opportunity for would-be donors to take a tax deduction for their charitable giving. Nonprofits are already bracing for the financial black hole that is to come.

 

Taxpayers are thinking strategically about their charitable giving, too. The New York Times wrote recently about the option of ‘bunching’ charitable contributions. Bunching is where instead of making annual contributions to charity, tax payers would accumulate donations over several years and make them in one year’s worth of gifts in order to take the larger itemized deduction and receive the tax break. But what happens to the nonprofit that counts on a steady stream of income and now faces substantial changes to donations?  Let’s take a quick look at donor advised funds. A somewhat daunting term for what translates to donating funds privately, donor advised funds allow the contributors to donate money and take the tax deduction in the same year, but pay the money to chosen charities over a predetermined time horizon.  The donor doesn’t control the money once it’s deposited to the fund, but can direct the fund’s administrator on how they would like the dollars allocated. Additionally, certain funds have an investment component that allows the fund to potentially yield even greater profits down the road.  While donor advised funds aren’t new to the financial industry, they are gaining traction as larger national funds have affiliated with big financial firms such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab.

 

In addition to the increase of the standard deduction, taxpayers are also facing substantially limited deductions for state and local taxes along with home mortgage interest. In states like California, New York, and Massachusetts, where both local and state taxes are high coupled with high real estate values may mean that the tax burden will be greater and charitable giving even less.

 

There is a small upside to these changes. The Act calls for an increase in the amount of deduction that an individual can make from 50 percent to 60 percent of his/her adjusted gross income. The nonprofit may see a slightly larger contribution than had been seen previously. Time will tell if this greater increase in donation maximums will bear fruit for nonprofits big and small across the country.

 

If you have questions or still aren’t clear on what type of contributions will be deductible or what your deduction threshold is, it may be time to talk with a Small Business Advisor.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Small Businesses Struggles To Make Ends Meet

According to WalletHub’s national Small Business Week survey on the state of their finances, small business owners are optimistic but still report needing better access to capital. With more than 543,000 new businesses started every month, the survival rate is still threateningly low – some two-thirds will only survive into the third year.

 

Traditional sources of small business capital include the basics like personal assets, bank loans and friends and family. Once these are exhausted, business owners can struggle to make ends meet. The next tier of banking options can include much-needed revenue but are a bit more creative in nature.

 

Supplier financing – Small businesses can offer products that can be sold on contingency, deferred with interest and even have straight funding options.  These can provide the business with an initial offering while the business sells the items making enough profit to repay the vendor(s) and restock or increase merchandise offerings in the future.

 

Seller financing – When a business owner wants to sell but also is willing to act as the ‘bank’ in the financing deal, this is called ‘seller financing’.  The financial arrangement allows the new owner to repay the purchase price on a monthly basis over a period of time directly to the seller versus obtaining financing through a traditional lender.

 

Factoring  – When your finances are tight, another option is to sell any money owed to you in the future in your accounts receivable to a company called a ‘factor’. The factor will pay you less for your accounts receivable than it is worth down the road, but selling it will provide some immediate capital. Be cautious that this doesn’t become a regular habit as much of your profitability is lost in factoring and it is not a solid business strategy long-term.

 

Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending – A relatively new method of debt financing, these services can leverage a technology platform to operate a credit market where users can borrow and lend money without the use of a financial institution as an intermediary. P2P loans tend to be less volatile than the stock market and can offer higher returns than more conventional sources of yield. Borrowers must apply for the loan as an individual using his/her personal credit score.

 

Crowdfunding – By selling shares in the business, small business owners can grow the business with the help of their own community. Bear in mind, that crowdfunding, by its nature, requires a strong internet presence where the business owner can keep in touch with funders and apprise them of the company’s progress with their investments.

 

Competitions and Grants – Not the fastest or most reliable way to raise money, start up competitions and grants can often provide innovative ways to increase cash flow. Competitions happen throughout the year and vary by business specialty and industry. Ever popular on television with shows such as Shark Tank and even cooking shows like Food Network Star, cash infusions by offering stakes in the business or prize money can kick-start a small business with both notoriety and cash. Grants, especially Federal grants through sources like the Small Business Association, are more competitive and difficult to obtain but also a worthy prize for the victor willing to put in the work.

 

Whatever path is chosen should be carefully considered and the consequences weighed.  Always talk with a financial advisor or small business consultant to be sure that the options are in your best favor.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Best Way To Pay Yourself As The Business Owner

Determining how to pull money from your business is a critical step in small business ownership. Whether you take a draw or a salary, makes little difference if you are a sole proprietor. A combination of salary and draw is typically how most small businesses start. When the business is doing well, the draw can be easy to utilize, but remember that the business will need cash flow when times are leaner, so overdrawing on the business can cause issues down the road.  That’s where a controlled salary can help keep cash in the business and make it less tempting to take more cash out of the business than you really need. The owner’s draw is also taxable on the owner’s personal tax return and  owners must make estimated tax payments and self-employment taxes on any draws.

 

Your business type is critical.

 

If you are a sole proprietorship, you can take whatever amount you’d like for compensation, if the business has any money. If however, you use any other business type, the issue of compensation becomes much more complicated. If you have an S-corporation or a C-corporation, there are IRS rules regarding compensation and stock options that you need to be aware of and know the ins and outs of using. This is a great time to talk with a tax accountant about the differences and how to stay in compliance with all of the rules surrounding executive compensation limits.

 

To fully understand the salary versus draw decision, you must understand owner’s equity. When starting a business, the business owner contributes cash, equipment and other assets into the business.  Asset contributions elicit owner’s equity in the business. Accountants define equity in a simple formula:

 

Assets – liabilities = equity

 

Assets used in business include cash, equipment and inventory. Liabilities are the monies the business owes and includes bills that must be paid each month. If a business was to convert all of the company’s assets into cash and then used that cash to pay off any liabilities, any remaining dollars are considered the business’ equity. Calculating the business’ equity is a good way to determine the actual value of the business and then make a decision regarding taking a draw.

 

One-Third Rule

 

In order for your business to thrive, it’s important to remember that taking all of the profits out of the business in the form of a salary or a draw, will leave nothing for future growth or leaner times.  With that in mind, consider the one-third rule.  Take one-third of the business’ gross income and place it in a money market or business account. Take the second third of the income and use it to pay business expenses. The final third can be used to take personally or put back into the business for additional capital expenditures or growth.  This model won’t work for every business type, as businesses with greater capital outlay such as retail businesses have a much tighter margin than service related companies with smaller expenses.

 

Set your budgets – even in the beginning.

 

Get what you need to keep yourself and your family afloat. One of the leading causes of divorce is financial hardship. Bear that in mind when you go to your spouse and ask to strap the family for not just a short while, but for what could realistically turn into years. Also consider that if you carry the health insurance benefits through your salaried position now that either your spouse will need to pick up coverage, or you will have to seek other options. Sole proprietors, members of LLCs, and partners must each pay self-employment taxes on draws and any other distributions taken from the business.  S Corp shareholders do no pay self-employment taxes on distributions, but each owner who works as an employee of the company must be paid a ‘reasonable compensation’ before profits are paid.  Those employees will then pay taxes on the monies paid

 

Taxes, Man, Taxes.

 

Remember that no matter what kind of business entity you decide to create, Uncle Sam will always want his cut including Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA).

 

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but before taking a draw or salary consider the following:

  • Business funding – Does the business have enough capital to operate sufficiently before you take the draw?
  • Taxes – Understanding tax liabilities, both for the business and personally is crucial to deciding whether to take a draw or a salary and through which type of business entity. There is no method that escapes the tax bill, so plan now for future draws and income.
  • Plan – Talk with a business tax specialist about the best ways to handle tax payments and individual liability based on your business type.

 

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Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Small Business Loans

If you own a small business, you’ve no doubt seen those ads promising quick and easy small business loans, usually for large dollar amounts. Should you really take out such a loan? Before you sign the loan agreement, there are a few key steps to protect yourself and your business.

 

Do your homework. The old adage,’ if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ should be carefully adhered to. Take the time to read the fine print – ALL of it. It’s in these tiny details where you will find all of the responsibilities, commitments, interest rates and repayment rules. Meticulously review the details for additional fees, service charges and balloon payments that can easily double or triple in short time.  Depending on how quickly the loan is repaid, there may also be additional charges for early repayment. Surprise fees can quickly add up and take your business from thriving to life support.

 

It’s not uncommon to find different rates from lender to lender. Shopping around for rates and repayment options makes good financial sense.

 

When do you need the money?

 

If you think you might need cash at some point in the near future, start researching and applying for a loan now while your business’ cash flow looks good. The loan process takes time, generally four to eight weeks, requiring lots of documentation regarding your business’ finances, accounts, and often, personal finances as well. Be prepared and gather all of your documents before you start the application process. Going to a lender for money when your business is financially stretched puts the odds against you for an approval. If you present your business concept with a solid business plan when things are new or going well, you have a much better chance at success.  Borrowing when you don’t need the money, means that your business will have the available operating capital to plan through the leaner times, fueling even greater growth opportunities.

 

Find a financial Sherpa.

 

Trying to navigate the treacherous waters of small business financing can be a ‘swim at your own risk’ endeavor. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are countless resources available to entrepreneurs to help you on your journey.  The Small Business Association (www.SBA.gov) website is a tremendous resource for loan types, grants and other information. Additionally, small business owners can talk to consultants for free advice and even request a business mentor in their community or even in their business type, who can meet with them regularly and help provide a roadmap and framework for the growing enterprise. If the entrepreneur discovers that more ongoing guidance is needed, there are lists of resources and professional services also available.

 

Whatever route you decide to take to finance your business, remember that you never have to make the decisions alone.

 

If you found this article useful, please do not keep this a secret. Share it with a friend.

 

Copyright 2018 by Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, a PASBA member accountant, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.