Make your nonprofit’s accounting function more efficient
October 31, 2018 | BY admin
How efficient is your not-for-profit? Even tightly run organizations can use some improvement — particularly in the accounting area. Adopting the following six tips can help improve timeliness and accuracy.
1. Set cutoff policies. Create policies for the monthly cutoff of invoicing and recording expenses — and adhere to them. For example, require all invoices to be submitted to the accounting department by the end of each month. Too many adjustments — or waiting for different employees or departments to turn in invoices and expense reports — waste time and can delay the production of financial statements.
2. Reconcile accounts monthly. You may be able to save considerable time at the end of the year by reconciling your bank accounts shortly after the end of each month. It’s easier to correct errors when you catch them early. Also reconcile accounts payable and accounts receivable data to your statements of financial position.
3. Batch items to process. Don’t enter only one invoice or cut only one check at a time. Set aside a block of time to do the job when you have multiple items to process. Some organizations process payments only once or twice a month. If you make your schedule available to everyone, fewer “emergency” checks and deposits will surface.
4. Insist on oversight. Make sure that the individual or group that’s responsible for financial oversight (for example, your CFO, treasurer or finance committee) reviews monthly bank statements, financial statements and accounting entries for obvious errors or unexpected amounts. The value of such reviews increases when they’re performed right after each monthly reporting period ends.
5. Exploit your software’s potential. Many organizations underuse the accounting software package they’ve purchased because they haven’t learned its full functionality. If needed, hire a trainer to review the software’s basic functions with staff and teach time-saving shortcuts.
6. Review your processes. Accounting systems can become inefficient over time if they aren’t monitored. Look for labor-intensive steps that could be automated or steps that don’t add value and could be eliminated. Often, for example, steps are duplicated by two different employees or the process is slowed down by “handing off” part of a project.
Contact us. We can help review your accounting function for ways to improve efficiency.
Now’s the time to review your business expenses
October 29, 2018 | BY admin
As we approach the end of the year, it’s a good idea to review your business’s expenses for deductibility. At the same time, consider whether your business would benefit from accelerating certain expenses into this year.
Be sure to evaluate the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which reduces or eliminates many deductions. In some cases, it may be necessary or desirable to change your expense and reimbursement policies.
What’s deductible, anyway?
There’s no master list of deductible business expenses in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Although some deductions are expressly authorized or excluded, most are governed by the general rule of IRC Sec. 162, which permits businesses to deduct their “ordinary and necessary” expenses.
An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your business. (It need not be indispensable.) Even if an expense is ordinary and necessary, it may not be deductible if the IRS considers it lavish or extravagant.
What did the TCJA change?
The TCJA contains many provisions that affect the deductibility of business expenses. Significant changes include these deductions:
Meals and entertainment. The act eliminates most deductions for entertainment expenses, but retains the 50% deduction for business meals. What about business meals provided in connection with nondeductible entertainment? In a recent notice, the IRS clarified that such meals continue to be 50% deductible, provided they’re purchased separately from the entertainment or their cost is separately stated on invoices or receipts.
Transportation. The act eliminates most deductions for qualified transportation fringe benefits, such as parking, vanpooling and transit passes. This change may lead some employers to discontinue these benefits, although others will continue to provide them because 1) they’re a valuable employee benefit (they’re still tax-free to employees) or 2) they’re required by local law.
Employee expenses. The act suspends employee deductions for unreimbursed job expenses — previously treated as miscellaneous itemized deductions — through 2025. Some businesses may want to implement a reimbursement plan for these expenses. So long as the plan meets IRS requirements, reimbursements are deductible by the business and tax-free to employees.
The deductibility of certain expenses, such as employee wages or office supplies, is obvious. In other cases, it may be necessary to consult IRS rulings or court cases for guidance. For assistance, please contact us.
New IRS Regulations on Opportunity Zones
October 23, 2018 | BY admin
The IRS has recently released proposed regulations, along with a Revenue Ruling, creating greater guidance for Opportunity Zones.
While much remains to be learned, here are 5 takeaways from the Ruling and proposed laws:
- A Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund can be a corporation or a partnership. In the case where a partnership does not elect to defer any capital gains by reinvesting them in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, individual partners can still make the election.
- A Fund can purchase an existing business located in an Opportunity Zone, provided that it meets the other legal requirements.
- The incentive to invest in a Qualified Opportunity Zone fund is available to individuals, corporations, trust funds, and other funds.
- If a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund purchases real estate, an allocation must be made between the value of the land and a building.
- The requirements to invest capital to improve the purchased property only apply to the building. The land does not need to be improved.
For those who do not know, a Qualified Opportunity Zone investment comes as a part of the 2017 tax laws, created to spur development in distressed areas. It offers three major benefits to taxpayers with capital gains from other investments:
- If they are invested in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, the original capital gains can be deferred for a period of up to seven years, so long as the gains remain in the Qualified Opportunity Zone funds.
- If the investor keeps the original capital gain in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund for five years, the original capital gain is reduced by 10 percent; if it is held for the full seven years, the original gain is reduced by 15 percent.
- If it is held for 10 years, when the Opportunity Zone property is sold, there will be no gain on any increase in the property’s value. As an example, if Fund A purchases a building for $500,000 and sells it 10 years later for $5,000,000, the entire transaction will be treated as a tax-free sale.
If you have any questions about this opportunity, please reach out to your Roth&Co financial adviser.
Following the ABCs of customer assessment
October 22, 2018 | BY admin
When a business is launched, its owners typically welcome every customer through the door with a sigh of relief. But after the company has established itself, those same owners might start looking at their buying constituency a little more critically.
If your business has reached this point, regularly assessing your customer base is indeed an important strategic planning activity. One way to approach it is to simply follow the ABCs.
Assign profitability levels
First, pick a time period — perhaps one, three or five years — and calculate the profitability level of each customer or group of customers based on sales numbers and both direct and indirect costs. (We can help you choose the ideal calculations and run the numbers.)
Once you’ve determined the profitability of each customer or group of customers, divide them into three groups:
1. The A group consists of highly profitable customers whose business you’d like to expand.
2. The B group comprises customers who aren’t extremely profitable, but still positively contribute to your bottom line.
3. The C group includes those customers who are dragging down your profitability. These are the customers you can’t afford to keep.
With the A customers, your objective should be to grow your business relationship with them. Identify what motivates them to buy, so you can continue to meet their needs. Is it something specific about your products or services? Is it your customer service? Developing a good understanding of this group will help you not only build your relationship with these critical customers, but also target marketing efforts to attract other, similar ones.
Category B customers have value but, just by virtue of sitting in the middle, they can slide either way. There’s a good chance that, with the right mix of product and marketing resources, some of them can be turned into A customers. Determine which ones have the most in common with your best customers; then focus your marketing efforts on them and track the results.
When it comes to the C group, spend a nominal amount of time to see whether any of them might move up the ladder. It’s likely, though, that most of your C customers simply aren’t a good fit for your company. Fortunately, firing your least desirable customers won’t require much effort. Simply curtail your marketing and sales efforts, or stop them entirely, and most will wander off on their own.
Cut costs, bring in more
The thought of purposefully losing customers may seem like a sure recipe for disaster. But doing so can help you cut fruitless costs and bring in more revenue from engaged buyers. Our firm can help you review the pertinent financial data and develop a customer strategy that builds your bottom line.
Nonprofits: Here’s how to embrace accountability
October 16, 2018 | BY admin
To protect the organization, demonstrate openness and support the greater good, your not-for-profit needs to embrace accountability. Doing so will also help you fulfill your fiduciary responsibilities to donors, constituents and the public.
Fairness and clarity
Accountability starts by complying with all applicable laws and rules. As you carry out your organization’s initiatives, do so fairly and in the best interests of your constituents and community. Your status as a nonprofit means you’re obligated to use your resources to support your mission and benefit the community you serve. Evaluate programs accordingly, both in respect to the activities and their outcomes.
There can be no accountability without good governance, and that’s ultimately your board’s responsibility. Your board needs to understand the importance of its role and focus on the big picture — not the process-oriented details best handled at the staff or committee level.
For example, management will likely prepare internal financial statements and review performance against approved budgets on a quarterly basis. But it will present these statements to the board (or its audit or finance committee) for review and approval. Your board is also responsible for establishing and regularly assessing financial performance measurements.
Communicating with your public
Communication is a big part of accountability. Your annual report, for example, is designed to summarize the year’s activities and detail your nonprofit’s financial position. But the report’s list of board members, management staff and other key employees can be just as important. Stakeholders want to be able to assign responsibility for results to actual names.
Your nonprofit’s Form 990 also provides the public with an overview of your organization’s programs, finances, governance, compliance and compensation methods. Notably, charity watchdog groups use 990 information to rate nonprofits.
Whether your organization is accountable — and able to communicate its accountability — can affect everything from donations to grants, hiring to volunteering and good word-of-mouth. Contact us for more information.