Brad Hall, Managing Director, was featured in the article “You Can’t Deduct Your Wedding and Other Things You Shouldn’t Be Expensing” for Mainstreet.com today.
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Why Should I Hire a CPA?
Why do you need a CPA?
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) act as trusted advisers to individuals, businesses, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations and government agencies on a wide range of financial matters. Today, many individuals and businesses turn to CPAs for help with tax preparation, tax planning, personal financial planning, financial statement audit services, and advice on developing effective accounting systems.
What can a CPA do for you?
CPAs are no longer just number crunchers and tax preparers. They are business and financial strategists who help chart the paths of businesses and individuals. Individuals turn to their CPAs for tax and financial planning services, investment advice, estate planning, and much more.
Businesses are tapping CPAs to not only manage finances and taxes, but also to determine profitable new product lines, help diversify investments, and provide a variety of other consulting and business services.
CPA vs. Non-CPA
Many people do not know how a CPA is different from a bookkeeper or tax preparer. The CPA designation is one of the most widely recognized and highly trusted professional designations in the business world. CPAs are distinguished from other finance professionals by stringent qualification and licensing requirements.
Individuals have worked hard to obtain the CPA designation, and they are committed to working even harder to deliver the value that it conveys.
What qualifications should you look for when choosing a CPA?
Before you select a CPA, make sure you consider the following questions:
• Does the individual hold an active CPA license?
• Are your needs compatible with the CPA’s personality and communication style?
• Does the CPA have the experience you need?
It’s important to establish a practitioner’s credentials before you retain his or her services. You need to feel that this person has integrity/ethics before you will trust him or her with your financial information.
Be aware that fee structures vary and that different types of practitioners have different levels of training and experience and the greater the experience typically the higher the value and therefore higher the rates.
Keep in mind that you are looking to establish a long-term relationship. You want someone who will learn your business inside and out, and who will become a trusted advisor on major business and financial decisions and transactions. Look not only for technical competence but also for interpersonal and communication skills.
Membership in a professional association is also an important qualification. Members of the California Society of CPAs are governed by a stringent code of professional ethics. Also, many larger CPA firms in California submit to Peer Review and must undergo a comprehensive review of their accounting and auditing practice every three years. Those that are PCAOB approved must submit to even higher outside review so that they can report on publicly traded companies. If you are thinking about taking your company public in the future this is something to consider now.
Defining your objectives and expectations will help you ask the kind of specific questions necessary for finding the CPA best suited to your needs. Think about the services you will need not just today but further down the road.
How do I choose a CPA?
When looking for a CPA, consider the following:
• Ask your lawyer, banker, insurance agent, or investment advisor for recommendations. Speak with colleagues in your field of business about CPAs they know and trust.
• Develop some of your own plans and objectives before you talk with a CPA. Gather information about business and personal financial decisions under consideration so you can ask specific questions.
• Make sure the CPA is licensed to practice in California.
• Ask what professional organizations the CPA belongs to and how active he or she is in those organizations. Many of these organizations require adherence to technical and professional standards, thereby helping to ensure the quality of a CPA’s services.
How can you get the most value from a CPA’s services?
When it comes to working with a CPA, you are in control. There are a variety of things you can do to get the most value out of your time and money spent with a CPA.
Before you even contact a CPA, be prepared with your goals and objectives of what you want the CPA to do for you. Have a list of questions and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
Before you meet with a CPA, gather all the documents and information you think you may need – past tax returns, financial statements, investment documents, business plans – and take this information with you to the first meeting.
Keep your CPA up-to-date on what’s happening in your life. Are you getting married, divorced, having children, needing to plan for your child’s college education, expanding a business, merging with another company, selling out or giving the business to your kids? You’d be surprised what life experiences can have a significant impact on your tax liability and personal financial goals.Posted in Accounting, Business Consulting, Tax | Comments Off
Average cortisol levels were lower in both men and women, single or married, parents or not, at work.
Picture a busy day at work: The phone is ringing, emails are piling up, co-workers are interrupting with questions and your boss is making last-minute requests.
That might just sound like a picnic compared with a day at home filled with chores, errands, meals and child care. Even for those with a happy family life, home sometimes can feel more taxing than work.
After decades of social scientists examining the corporate workplace and studying ways to improve it, experts now say being at work is good for our health. And there are aspects of work we might want to emulate at home.
In a new study, published online last month in Social Science & Medicine, researchers at Penn State University found significantly and consistently lower levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, in a majority of subjects when they were at work compared with when they were at home. This was true for both men and women, and parents and people without children.
The researchers randomly solicited 122 participants in a midsize northeastern U.S. city, which they declined to identify due to the university’s research privacy guidelines. All were over age 18 and worked outside the home five days a week within the 6 a.m.-to-7 p.m. time window.
The researchers taught the participants to test their own cortisol levels by swabbing the inside of a cheek, and gave each of them a palm device that prompted them to do it six times a day. At those times, they also reported where they were, how stressed they felt and how happy they were. The researchers looked only at participants’ levels of cortisol and not other hormones.
The majority of subjects had on average lower levels of cortisol at work than at home. It made no difference what their occupation was, whether they were single or married or even if they liked their job or not. One intriguing finding: The only participants who didn’t have lower levels of cortisol at work—their levels remained the same as at home—were those who earned more than $75,000 a year. (The researchers, who didn’t pursue that finding for this study, said they believe the salary bar would have been higher in a city with a more expensive standard of living.)
The study also found that while both parents and childless adults were less stressed at work, the difference was greater for people without children. Researchers say this may be because parents bring some home stress to work with them, or because children may help relieve stress at home.
Both men and women showed less stress at work. But women were more likely to report feeling happier there. Men were more likely to feel happier at home. The researchers say this may be because women still do more housework and child care and may feel they have less free time.
Experts say there are other reasons why work is less stressful than home for many. “Paid work is more valued in society,” says Sarah Damaske, assistant professor of labor and employment relations, sociology and women’s studies at Penn State, who was the lead researcher on the study. “Household work is monotonous and not particularly rewarding.”
We get better at our job with time (hopefully), and the increased competence means less stress and more rewards. Yet none of us, no matter how long we’ve been doing it, ever truly feels like an expert at parenting or even at marriage.
We are more likely to feel appreciated at work, Dr. Damaske says. At home many of our efforts go unnoticed. And let’s not forget: At work, we get paid. Imagine giving your family an invoice.
There is behavioral etiquette at work. No yelling, storming off or crying—at least, not if we want to keep our job and our colleagues’ respect. Support and friendship of co-workers offer stress relief. We may listen to others’ problems, but ultimately they aren’t our concern. At home, meanwhile, stress is contagious. “You can’t pause and say to your toddler, ‘Mommy needs a timeout,’ ” Dr. Damaske says.
Much of the advice to families and couples includes the warning to “leave work stress at the office” and even to build in a transition activity, such as a walk around the block, to change our mind-set from work to home. The recent findings, though, suggest our home life, not our attitude, might be due for some change.
Tara Kennedy-Kline, a family advocate and owner of a toy-distribution company, says on an evening or weekend she has been known to go to her warehouse and rearrange 1,500 boxes in a shipping container just to get away from her family’s requests of “What’s for dinner?” and “Where is my uniform?”
“I love my home and family, but there is just something about being able to walk away from the homework, dinner, karate, football, piano lessons, roller-skating transport and laundry folding, and retreat to my cold concrete warehouse,” says the 43-year-old, who lives in Shoemakersville, Pa.
So how can we make domestic life less stressful? “Make home a little more like work,” says Richard Levak, a Del Mar, Calif., psychologist
First, learn to set boundaries—just as when we are in our office or cubicle and we say no to a request that isn’t in our domain. Explain to children or a spouse that you need uninterrupted time alone. Help them rehearse what to do while you are unavailable. Create a place where they can write down what they want to tell you when they have the urge to interrupt, so you can read it together later.
Prepare for pushback. “Everyone will resist. They want access to you all the time,” Dr. Levak says. “You have to be mindful that your spouse or kids will feel rejected.” He suggests preparing them by telling them when and for how long you are planning to take a break.
Build down time into everyone’s schedule. Set aside specific times at home to relax and have fun, and make them inviolate. Plan a movie night. Put a regular exercise time on the calendar. Take a walk after dinner every evening.
People who live alone can fall into a stressful pattern of drifting around the house, doing small chores, checking the fridge, flipping channels on the TV—responding to stimuli but not focusing on a task, Dr. Levak says. “You have to envision some rewarding event and plan for it.”
If you want appreciation, try modeling that behavior. Bring your spouse coffee in bed. Give the children a treat when they’ve done something well. If you live alone, celebrate your own accomplishments (I like to take myself to lunch).
Time at home is usually unstructured, so chores can drag on endlessly. At work, we take scheduled breaks—for a quick walk, a cup of coffee or a laugh with a co-worker—which help us stay focused.
Create a greater sense of control at home by building in more structure, Dr. Levak says. Don’t watch TV mindlessly; record only what you care about and watch one evening a week. Sit down to meals at the table. Try not to answer email or texts after a certain time. “If you want to improve your level of happiness at home, you need to be as mindful of following a structure at home as you are at work,” Dr. Levak says.
(Above) Bradford and Janice Hall glitzed and glamed up for the Hollywood Glamour themed 2014 PBS SoCal Gala.
(Above & below) Bradford & Janice Hall joined by Todd & Julie Hollander looking amazing at the gala. The tuxes and gowns fit right in with the glamour theme.Uncategorized | Comments Off
BY RICHARD RUBIN
(Bloomberg) The U.S. House of Representatives voted to revive the tax credit for corporate research, expand it and make it permanent.
The 274-131 vote today follows calls to restore the credit by a coalition of companies including Texas Instruments Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. The measure faces significant obstacles before it can become law, including a veto threat from President Barack Obama.
The research credit was first enacted in 1981. Lawmakers said the lapse-and-revive cycle of the past 33 years has prevented companies from relying on it and thwarted its incentive effect.
“Businesses can’t grow and invest when the tax code is riddled with instability and uncertainty,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said on the House floor yesterday. “We’ve fallen far behind. Other countries are moving past the United States.”
The bill heads to the Senate, where lawmakers are taking a different approach. The differences between the House and Senate may take months to resolve.
Instead of separate votes to make individual tax benefits permanent, the Senate Finance Committee last month backed a single measure extending the research credit and dozens of other breaks through the end of 2015.
Other tax benefits in the Senate measure include the production tax credit for wind energy and a rule that lets General Electric Co., Citigroup Inc. and other companies defer U.S. taxation on overseas financing income.
That bill is scheduled to reach the Senate floor next week. There’s a “big question mark” about whether it will pass because of a dispute between Democrats and Republicans over which amendments, if any, should be allowed, said Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat.
The House vote involves contradictions for each party.
Republicans, who say Democrats’ proposed extension of unemployment insurance must be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, supported the tax bill though it would add $155.5 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade. The lack of offsets was part of the Obama administration’s rationale for the veto threat.
“When you put it on the credit card, at the end of the day somebody is paying for it,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat. The Senate bill contains no provisions to offset its cost.
Democrats, who had supported extending the tax credit in prior years without covering its costs, voted against the bill today though a number of them cosponsored it.
The bill is H.R. 4438.
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Hall & Company CPAs are proud to announce our new and improved website is live! You will see many new features such as links to our Social Media sites: Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and Google+, Financial Tools, new Careers and Industries Served pages. We are excited for the new site and hope you enjoy it!Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off
Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of
these articles, click on the link at the end of this e-mail.
IRS AUDITS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
There’s nothing good about being selected for an IRS audit.
At best it’s a time consuming nuisance, and at worst you’ll be
poorer in the end. But you can reduce your likelihood of being
audited, or if you are selected, of being billed.
IRS ISSUES “REPAIR REGULATIONS”
To expense or to capitalize? If you buy, build, or repair business
assets, you might ask that question when deciding whether your costs
are currently deductible on your federal income tax return or whether
they’re considered capital improvements.
WHAT CAN YOU DEDUCT WHEN CUSTOMERS DON’T PAY?
If you’re in business long enough, you’ll run into a customer who
doesn’t pay his bill. And despite your best efforts, you come to
the conclusion that it will never be paid.
IF YOU MAKE GIFTS, YOU MAY HAVE TO FILE A GIFT TAX RETURN
Are you planning to give sizeable gifts to family members this year?
Due to generous provisions in the tax code, you may not owe any federal
gift tax, but you still might be required to a file a gift tax return.
Just click on the link below to read the full articles.
Hall & Company CPAs Spring 2014 Client Update Newsletter
Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this e-mail.
HEALTH CARE REFORM LAW GETS UNDERWAY FOR INDIVIDUALS
Although the employer mandate for providing health insurance coverage to workers under the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) was postponed for one year – until January 1, 2015 – the rules for individuals remain in place, at least for the foreseeable future.
1099s: A LITTLE FORM WITH A PAINFUL BITE
When Congress tried unsuccessfully to expand the Form 1099 filing requirements a couple of years ago, at least one thing was accomplished.
It raised awareness of an important IRS business reporting rule.
BUSINESS OR HOBBY? NINE FACTORS HELP THE IRS DECIDE
The dividing line between a business and a hobby may be thin, but it can look like a canyon when you are on one side and your tax deductions are on the other. The gap is a function of differing treatment of expenses.
HOW TO HANDLE THE FINANCIAL ISSUES AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE
The death of a spouse can be a devastating experience, both emotionally and financially. As the survivor, you’ll have to make important decisions while you’re in what could be the most vulnerable and distracted stage of your life. The suggestions that follow might at least help ease your financial stress.
To read these articles and more, click here: Hall & Company CPAs 2014 Winter NewsletterPosted in Accounting, Business Consulting, News, Tax | Leave a comment
Bradford Hall, managing director, will be interviewed live by Bill Black of ExitCoachRadio.com today at 12:30 pm PST.
ExitCoachRadio.com is the premier “information station for Age 50+ business owners.” Tune it at www.octalkradio.net.
Be sure to tune in!!Posted in News | Leave a comment
How to Know When to Issue a 1099-MISC
• Calculate if you paid $600 or more during the tax year in the course of your trade or business to an individual, sole-proprietor, LLC or partnership. Professional fees to an attorney, doctor or other professional are included. Payments to corporations are included only if they are for medical, health care or legal fees.
• Calculate if you paid $10 or more in royalties.
• Issue 1099-MISCs if you have or manage a trade or business and have paid $600 or more to an individual, LLC or partnership (or certain corporations) or have paid $10 or more in royalties.
• Issue a separate 1099-MISC to each individual , LLC or partnership (or specific corporations).
Payments Requiring 1099-MISC
• Determine that you paid $600 or more in compensation for services rendered by a nonemployee to your trade or business. Include the gross amount of payments in box 7, including anything you paid the contractor for supplies and materials.
• Determine that you paid $600 or more in rent for office space, machines, equipment or land in the course of your trade or business. Write the amount in box 1. You are not required to include amounts paid to corporations for rent.
• Verify that your trade or business gave any prizes or awards to an individual who is not your employee. Include only amounts of $600 or more. Put amounts in box 3. But don’t report it if the prize was transferred directly to charity.
• Verify that your trade or business paid $600 or more in medical or health care payments to an individual, partnership or corporation. Put the amount in box 6.
• Verify that your trade or business paid $600 or more to an attorney or law corporation for any legal services. Write the amount in box 7. If you cannot determine the amount paid that applies to legal services, write the gross amount paid, even if less than $600, in box 13 and put the letter A after the amount.
• Determine if you paid $600 or more in taxable fringe benefits to nonemployees in the course of your trade or business. Write the amount in box 7.
• Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more in punitive damages. Write the amount in box 3.
• Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more in director’s fees. Write the amount in box 7.
• Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more to a deceased employee’s estate or beneficiary. There are some tricky rules on this one, so be careful and get some help from us if needed. Write the amount in box 3.
The general rule is that you do not have to send 1099-MISCs to a corporation. The exceptions to the rule are for medical, health care, legal and attorney, and fishing related payments.
The 1099-MISC should be used for reporting payments to independent workers — not payments to employees. For employees, you use form W-2 instead to report employment income.
Independent workers are typically self-employed individuals or small service firms that you hire as independent contractors. Examples of independent workers might include a graphics designer, web developer, cleaning service, freelance writer, landscaper or gardener service, business consultant, IT or HR company, marketing consultant or any other self-employed provider. The key is that the independent worker is self-employed — and not your employee.
You are required to complete a 1099-MISC reporting form for an independent worker if you paid that independent worker $600 or more. You add up all payments made to a payee during the year, and if the amount is $600 or more for the year, you must issue a 1099 for that payee.
The following penalties will be in effect for the year 2014:
• $30 penalty for filing a 1099 not more than 30 days late;
• $60 penalty for filing a 1099 more than 30 days late and before August 1;
• $100 penalty for filing a 1099 on or after August 1;
• $250 penalty for intentional failure to file.
The following penalties are in effect for the year 2013:
• $30 penalty for each filing of a 1099 not more than 30 days late;
• $60 penalty for each filing of a 1099 more than 30 days late and before August 1;
• $100 penalty for each filing of a 1099 on or after August 1;
• $250 penalty for intentional failure to file
Deadlines for 1099-MISC Forms
• Provide the recipient with his or her copy of the Form 1099-MISC by January 31 reporting income for the previous calendar year.
• Mail the Form 1099-MISC to the IRS no later than February 28.
• Remember we are here for you if you have questions or would like us to prepare the necessary forms.