September 27, 2018 | BY admin
Tax identity theft may seem like a problem only for individual taxpayers. But, according to the IRS, increasingly businesses are also becoming victims. And identity thieves have become more sophisticated, knowing filing practices, the tax code and the best ways to get valuable data.
How it works
In tax identity theft, a taxpayer’s identifying information (such as Social Security number) is used to fraudulently obtain a refund or commit other crimes. Business tax identity theft occurs when a criminal uses the identifying information of a business to obtain tax benefits or to enable individual tax identity theft schemes.
For example, a thief could use an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file a fraudulent business tax return and claim a refund. Or a fraudster may report income and withholding for fake employees on false W-2 forms. Then, he or she can file fraudulent individual tax returns for these “employees” to claim refunds.
The consequences can include significant dollar amounts, lost time sorting out the mess and damage to your reputation.
There are some red flags that indicate possible tax identity theft. For example, your business’s identity may have been compromised if:
- Your business doesn’t receive expected or routine mailings from the IRS,
- You receive an IRS notice that doesn’t relate to anything your business submitted, that’s about fictitious employees or that’s related to a defunct, closed or dormant business after all account balances have been paid,
- The IRS rejects an e-filed return or an extension-to-file request, saying it already has a return with that identification number — or the IRS accepts it as an amended return,
- You receive an IRS letter stating that more than one tax return has been filed in your business’s name, or
- You receive a notice from the IRS that you have a balance due when you haven’t yet filed a return.
Keep in mind, though, that some of these could be the result of a simple error, such as an inadvertent transposition of numbers. Nevertheless, you should contact the IRS immediately if you receive any notices or letters from the agency that you believe might indicate that someone has fraudulently used your Employer Identification Number.
Businesses should take steps such as the following to protect their own information as well as that of their employees:
- Provide training to accounting, human resources and other employees to educate them on the latest tax fraud schemes and how to spot phishing emails.
- Use secure methods to send W-2 forms to employees.
- Implement risk management strategies designed to flag suspicious communications.
Of course identity theft can go beyond tax identity theft, so be sure to have a comprehensive plan in place to protect the data of your business, your employees and your customers. If you’re concerned your business has become a victim, or you have questions about prevention, please contact us.
September 26, 2018 | BY admin
You’ve no doubt heard the old business cliché “cash is king.” And it’s true: A company in a strong cash position stands a much better chance of obtaining the financing it needs, attracting outside investors or simply executing its own strategic plans.
One way to ensure that there’s always a king in the castle, so to speak, is to maintain a cash reserve. Granted, setting aside a substantial amount of dollars isn’t the easiest thing to do — particularly for start-ups and smaller companies. But once your reserve is in place, life can get a lot easier.
Now you may wonder: What’s the optimal amount of cash to keep in reserve? The right answer is different for every business and may change over time, given fluctuations in the economy or degree of competitiveness in your industry.
If you’ve already obtained financing, your bank’s liquidity covenants can give you a good idea of how much of a cash reserve is reasonable and expected of your company. To take it a step further, you can calculate various liquidity metrics and compare them to industry benchmarks. These might include:
• Working capital = current assets – current liabilities,• Current ratio = current assets / current liabilities, and• Accounts payable turnover = cost of goods sold / accounts payable.
There may be other, more complex metrics that better apply to the nature and size of your business.
Believe it or not, many companies don’t suffer from a lack of cash reserves but rather a surplus. This often occurs because a business owner decides to start hoarding cash following a dip in the local or national economy.
What’s the problem? Substantial increases in liquidity — or metrics well above industry norms — can signal an inefficient deployment of capital.
To keep your cash reserve from getting too high, create financial forecasts for the next 12 to 18 months. For example, a monthly projected balance sheet might estimate seasonal ebbs and flows in the cash cycle. Or a projection of the worst-case scenario might be used to establish your optimal cash balance. Projections should consider future cash flows, capital expenditures, debt maturities and working capital requirements.
Formal financial forecasts provide a coherent method to building up cash reserves, which is infinitely better than relying on rough estimates or gut instinct. Be sure to compare actual performance to your projections regularly and adjust as necessary.
More isn’t always better
Just as individuals should set aside some money for a rainy day, so should businesses. But, when it comes to your company’s cash reserves, the notion that “more is better” isn’t necessarily correct. You’ve got to find the right balance. Contact us to discuss your reserve and identify your ideal liquidity metrics.
September 20, 2018 | BY admin
In an unexpected turn of events last week, the Governor of South Dakota signed a bill into law which re-enacted the enforcement of sales tax collections triggered by the Wayfair decision.
Although the Supreme Court previously ruled that the states were entitled to collect tax for online sales, some states such as South Dakota and Tennessee had individual cases which barred the collection from taking place. After much legislative and legal dispute, South Dakota has finally ruled in favor of collecting online sales taxes, and now joins the majority of states in complying with the landmark decision.
While South Dakota may not be a major source of sales for every online retailer, it is just another sign of the impact of the Wayfair ruling, and reinforces the fact that these new laws must be understood and followed. Frankly put, these laws aren’t going away. As noted previously, South Dakota, along with the other states, will now be requiring online retailers from across the country who sell products to customers in the state to remit sales taxes due to South Dakota, a responsibility which was previously unheard of. This can seem (rightfully so) like an overwhelming job for an online retailers, especially when the law is so new. Thankfully, the Advisory Services team at Roth & Company has been following Wayfair at every step, and has developed a thorough process for helping your online business continue to operate and grow, hassle free. For more information on how this may affect you, please contact your trusted advisor at Roth & Company.
September 18, 2018 | BY admin
Every business with more than one owner needs a buy-sell agreement to handle both expected and unexpected ownership changes. When creating or updating yours, be sure you’re prepared for the valuation issues that will come into play.
Issues, what issues?
Emotions tend to run high when owners face a “triggering event” that activates the buy-sell. Such events include the death of an owner, the divorce of married owners or an owner dispute.
The departing owner (or his or her estate) suddenly is in the position of a seller who wants to maximize buyout proceeds. The buyer’s role is played by either the other owners or the business itself — and it’s in the buyer’s financial interest to pay as little as possible. A comprehensive buy-sell agreement takes away the guesswork and helps ensure that all parties are treated equitably.
Some owners decide to have the business valued annually to minimize surprises when a buyout occurs. This is often preferable to using a static valuation formula in the buy-sell agreement, because the value of the interest is likely to change as the business grows and market conditions evolve.
What are our protocols?
At minimum, the buy-sell agreement needs to prescribe various valuation protocols to follow when the agreement is triggered, including:
• How “value” will be defined, • Who will value the business, • Whether valuation discounts will apply, • Who will pay appraisal fees, and • What the timeline will be for the valuation process.
It’s also important to discuss the appropriate “as of” date for valuing the business interest. The loss of a key person could affect the value of a business interest, so timing may be critical.
Are we ready?
Business owners tend to put planning issues on the back burner — especially when they’re young and healthy and owner relations are strong. But the more details that you put in place today, including a well-crafted buy-sell agreement with the right valuation components, the easier it will be to resolve buyout issues when they arise. Our firm would be happy to help.
September 17, 2018 | BY admin
oth&Co Tax Attorney Ahron Golding, discusses the importance of using an effective method of accounting, and the problem with using the “Ostrich Method,” which involves burying your head in the sand and hoping the IRS will go away.