How To Choose the Right CEO Peer Group for You

Turns out that old expression is true: it is lonely at the top. 

As just about every CEO knows, it’s easy to feel siloed in what seems like an echo chamber, even after you’ve carefully considered feedback from talented managers, customers and staff.

Because no matter how you cut it, the buck stops with you and ultimately, big decisions rest on your shoulders.

Which is why CEO peer groups are an effective way to break out of the echo chamber and get feedback and advice from peers who understand your situation— because they’ve been there themselves. 

Who Can CEO Peer Groups Help? 

In general, CEO peer groups help business owners and managing partners capitalize on opportunities, kick-start growth, and accelerate the learning curve in a structured environment designed to foster the “cross-fertilization of ideas.”

More specifically, they help:

Time-Crunched CEOs and Business Owners

Business owners and CEOs often say they’re so consumed with day to day challenges they don’t feel they’re spending enough time focusing on long term strategy.

Peer groups give you the opportunity to use uninterrupted, focused time to brianstorm strategies that have the potential to increase revenue and solve big problems.

Seeking New Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities

CEO peer groups can help you see new perspectives on a problem with the goal of finding alternative solutions. And often, frank feedback from other members not beholden to them can help adjust their own perspectives and managerial and organizational approaches.  

Seeking Support and Advice from Other CEOs and Owners

The support and advice of peers is invaluable for CEOs who are rethinking their role and vision for the company. Because these peer groups meet regularly, members get advice consistently from peers who are familiar with their stories and the challenges unique to their circumstances. And there’s value and peace of mind in knowing a variety of solutions have been considered from several perspectives before making a big decision. 

What Does A CEO Peer Group Do?

CEO peer groups generally meet monthly and provide a kind of corporate think tank where qualified, like-minded individuals discuss and provide opinions on issues from a variety of perspectives and industries. Members are encouraged to hold their peers accountable and to sharpen their own skill sets and techniques against those of their fellow members. 

Because peer groups provide an arena for sharing a wide variety of perspectives, members often find they become more creative problem solvers as they hear about and process solutions for other CEOs and owners, who are running companies in industries very different from their own.

Peer groups also strengthen networks and increase social capital that’s so crucial and valuable to CEOs.

Many members view the peer group as their very own, exclusive Board of Advisors who are genuinely invested in their company’s growth and success.

What’s The Process For Choosing A CEO Peer Group?

Seek Like-Minded Individuals

Look for peer groups that focus on growth and that only attract CEOs committed to excellence in their companies. 

Reasonable Requirements

Some peer groups ask that members meet certain revenue requirements to qualify for membership. (And membership fees are usually steep for these groups.) However, don’t let that discourage you if you don’t meet the prerequisite. There are many excellent CEO peer groups with reasonable fees that don’t have revenue requirements. Many only require that members be a decision making authority and have the ability to implement change in the organization. 

Discretion

Beware the peer group that does not require you to sign an NDA (non disclosure agreement). To have candid, frank discussions, group members must have assurance that their conversations will be kept private. 

Member Limits

It’s a good idea to ask if there is a maximum limit for members of a particular group. In general, groups that allow more than ten members can mean you won’t get sufficient time to focus on your specific issues and challenges. Even better if the group limits the number of members in a particular industry. 

Accountability

Finally, be sure you’re prepared to join a group that emphasizes accountability. Unless you’re truly committed to action and change, you’re probably wasting your— and everyone else’s — time. 

The right CEO peer group can provide a huge return on investment. If you’re looking for the kind of peer-driven feedback, support and advice that can kick-start revenue, foster creative problem solving and generate more opportunities, we should talk!

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Accountant

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Most people make an annual appointment with their accountant on or before April 15th each year, and then don’t see them again until next tax season. Others never even bother engaging an accountant, preferring to use cheap or free accounting tools to save a few extra bucks in the short term. 

But the reality is, an accountant can and should provide you with so much more than a completed tax return. A good accountant can help you make informed business tax planning decisions as well as advise against decisions that could be detrimental (and maybe even irreversible).  

To determine how your accountant can best serve you, begin by asking a few questions. To help you get started, we’ve put together a short list of questions everyone should ask their accountant.

#1 Do You Offer Tax Planning Services?

Financial decisions made today can mean the difference between significant savings and a huge tax bill in April, so it’s important to know whether your accountant can advise you on these types of decisions.

Using an accountant to plan ahead can often help reduce your tax liability. He/she will be current on all the latest tax laws governing everything from asset purchases to expense rules so you can take advantage of every deduction available.

These are decisions that can ultimately affect your individual, family and organization’s finances, so it’s well worth asking if your accountant can provide you with guidance along the way.

#2 Do You Offer Business Consulting Services?

Some accountants or firms offer this type of service which often includes things like risk analysis, cash flow forecasting and strategic planning. And these can be a small business owner’s best friend. 

If just starting out, an accountant may be able to advise you on the different types of entities, whether a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership or LLC, and which would most benefit you and your organization.

Accountants well versed in this type of service can help small business owners understand how and when to expand, whether to add employees or use contractors, and how to position themselves in the marketplace.

Even better if the accountant or firm has developed a strong network of relationships with partners who can help (like insurance and investment professionals), and has experience in multiple industries so they’re better able to advise you on challenges and issues specific to your business.

#3 What’s The Best Way to Contact You, And How Frequently Should We Touch Base?

Communication Is Key

This may seem like an obvious question, but the fact is, the advice you get is only as good as the information you give your accountant. And that means keeping the lines of communication open and consistent because, as we all know, situations can pop up throughout the year and circumstances arise that can significantly affect your financial and tax position.

Frequency

After reviewing your financial situation, ask your accountant how often they recommend you meet. For some business owners, a quarterly pow-wow is sufficient while others may need to touch base with their accountant monthly or even weekly. Technology like Google Hangouts, Skype and Facetime offers a convenient option when meeting in person isn’t possible, so ask your accountant whether they use them.

Finally, confirm how quickly you can expect to receive a return call or email. Some accountants are able to respond more quickly to an email than a phone call, and visa versa.

#4 Does Your Firm Offer Bookkeeping Services?

Some accountants offer bookkeeping solutions in addition to tax preparation services. This is helpful to know for a couple of reasons: 

Investing in Bookkeeping Services Now Can Mean Big Savings Later

If business or personal financial transactions reach a certain level of complexity, it’s a good idea to consider using a skilled professional to mind the books. Why? Because hiring a bookkeeper up front is much easier— and far less expensive — than untangling a mess created by someone who isn’t familiar with accounting and hasn’t kept up with the most current software. Even better if the practice offers month-to-month bookkeeping contracts rather than forcing you to commit to an annual contract. 

Who Provides The Bookkeeping Services?

If your accountant offers this service, be sure to ask who will be doing the bookkeeping. If a CPA or tax preparer says they’ll do all the bookkeeping as well as the taxes, you could get hit with a huge bill at the end since a tax specialist typically charges a much higher fee than a bookkeeper. 

Bookkeepers should work closely and in conjunction with tax specialists, and using a firm that offers both can streamline the process, which often makes for a far more cost effective solution.

#5 Do You Offer Accounting Software Training Solutions?

If you’ve already got the capacity to handle your own bookkeeping yourself or in house, ask if the accountant offers software training. (Hint: Intuit is the hundred pound gorilla in the marketplace, so it could be hugely beneficial if they offer Quickbooks training.)

Even if you’ve got lots of experience using accounting software, it’s a good idea to keep abreast of the latest releases and features which can mean better security and increased efficiency.

If training is offered, be sure to ask whether the instructor is certified and can provide training on all versions of a particular software.

Connecting The Dots

From tax planning to business consulting to bookkeeping and training services, asking the right questions can help you understand which accountant is best able to meet your needs. 

Steiner Business Solutions is an outstanding resource for all of these services and more, right here in Richmond, VA. Connect with us today to find out how we can help you connect all the dots, from planning to execution. 

QuickBooks 101: How to Make Accounting Software Work for You

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If you own or work for a small business, chances are high that you’re using QuickBooks software. And with good reason. Intuit’s line of accounting products are user friendly, cost-effective and they allow small business owners to leverage countless features that deliver greater efficiency and powerful insights.

But what many business owners don’t realize is that they’re probably not maximizing QuickBooks’ capabilities. This is most likely because they’re not aware of all the features available or what it takes to use those features and functions most effectively.

The good news is that with the right training, business owners can take full advantage of this powerful, industry-leading accounting software. And even better news is that there are excellent local options to get you connected with the best QuickBooks training resources in Richmond, VA.

But let’s start by taking a look at some of its most popular features and functions, and how, with the right training, you can make QuickBooks work for you.

Controlling Cash Flow

A huge number of small business owners report regularly losing sleep over cash flow concerns. That’s where QuickBooks can be a life (and sleep) saver.

When properly configured and regularly updated, QuickBooks can provide business owners with up to the minute stats on metrics like sales, payables liabilities and bank balances, taking the guesswork out of earmarking sufficient funds to cover things like payroll or loan payments.

QuickBooks also offers a budgeting feature which allows users to input data (and even copy prior year budgets) to create reports displaying budget versus actual numbers once a period has been closed out.

Customer Invoicing and Receivables

QuickBooks has a powerful accounts receivables function. When configured and used to its full potential, it can help close the gap between when a customer is invoiced and when payment is received on that invoice. This ensures there’s cash available for financing and other vital activities.

Business owners can use QuickBooks to email invoices directly to customers from within the software— gone are the days of snail mail, paper invoices and window envelopes. Users can see exactly when it was sent and even whether a customer has viewed the invoice or not.

With QuickBooks, businesses also have the ability to accept online payments thanks to embedded links that make it easier than ever for customers to pay your bills.

The QuickBooks receivables function even has some light CRM capabilities so you can stay on top of customer relationships and can personalize communications when sending or following up on invoices.

Maximizing Accounts Payable Features

QuickBooks makes cash planning easy, allowing users to input purchase orders, bills, and payments. You’ll know exactly what’s due when and how each payment will affect cash flow.

Users can input vendor bills at the time of receipt, then use the reporting or ‘pay bills’ function to identify which checks should be cut during a particular check run with eyes on how that run will affect account balances. Owners can keep vendors happy with timely payments, while ensuring cash flow stays positive.

If a vendor contacts the payables department to follow up on an invoice, users can pull up a complete history on that vendor including payments made on a specific invoice with the click of a button.

QuickBooks also allows users to attach supporting documentation, creating a robust audit trail and providing other users with complete history and information for a given transaction.

Another huge value to using QuickBooks’ payables function is its vendor management system, which among other things allows users to flag independent contractors, so all qualifying payments are captured when it comes time to prepare and issue annual 1099-MISC forms. This feature also allows users to filter for payment totals that meet IRS reporting thresholds.

Leverage the Power of Automation

QuickBooks allows you to directly connect bank, loan and credit card accounts to the software so transactions are downloaded in real time, and held in suspense until a user codes them to the proper account. Users no longer have to enter all transactions manually which eats up valuable time and resources and increases the likelihood of keying errors.

Within the account connect feature, QuickBooks can be configured to recognize vendors and customers and automatically assign the appropriate coding, creating even greater efficiency.

When downloading vendor payment transactions, QuickBooks will suggest outstanding bills which the user can then match to the appropriate payment, so payables that should be closed aren’t accidentally aged and overstated in the system.

QuickBooks can be configured to pull up historical data when users are entering transactions, saving them the time and hassle of having to look up codes or key in descriptions for repeat transactions.

Users can configure journal entries to book automatically according to a set schedule, again saving time and mitigating user error.

These are only a scant few of the near infinite ways QuickBooks can be configured to automate transactions and accounting functions, saving time, reducing user error and increasing productivity.

Making QuickBooks Work for You

Without a doubt, QuickBooks is a user friendly workhorse. But like so many other potent business software packages, QuickBooks requires a level of training and expertise to make it sing— training and expertise most business owners don’t have when they start using it.

So to fully maximize the benefits of running QuickBooks, many businesses are investing in online or in-person training for themselves and their staff.

And that’s why, for the best QuickBooks training resource in Richmond, VA, more and more business owners are turning to Steiner Business Solutions for help. Our certified instructors are experts in all versions of QuickBooks, so we are prepared to teach all the functions and features that can positively impact your business.

We invite you to connect with us today to set up a free consultation!

4 Ways to Ensure the Success of Your Merger and Acquisition

If you’re preparing to tackle a merger and acquisition (M&A) transaction, then you already know that the process is not for the faint of heart. A successful M&A has many moving parts, each demanding an equal share of your attention and time. From the basics of communication, to dealing with the critical legal and financial aspects, there are always a lot of balls being juggled in the air.

A merger and acquisition is a time of flux, uncertainty, and opportunity for everyone involved. There are critical points throughout the process that will determine the eventual success of the transaction. Knowing how to navigate these points and move everyone smoothly from point A to point B is a critical component of a successful venture.

You’ve probably noticed there are organizations out there who handle this process with ease. What are their secrets and how can you employ them in your own organization? Here are four strategies for a successful merger & acquisition.

Establish Goals

It almost seems too simple to warrant talking about, but establishing your goals in the earliest stages of an M&A provides a blueprint for the process. What are the real reasons that the M&A is taking place and what are the overall goals upon completion? Are you looking to completely reinvent the organization? Supercharge your market share? Pave the way for breaking into a new market segment? Establish and communicate these goals as early as possible.


Start Fresh

Perspective is everything. Too often, those involved in an M&A get stuck in the past and fail to see that an entirely new organization is being born right in front of them. Mergers & acquisitions deserve to be handled with the same thoughtful care that is given to a new startup. Approach the M&A with a fresh perspective and open mind.

Be Smart About Integration

An integration plan is a must, but it needs to be effectively structured. The most effective integration plan looks at each and every operational facet of each of the businesses involved and builds a strategy for measuring success at key points along the way. What will each operational facet look like two weeks into the M&A? What about two months?

Additionally, it’s important to streamline leadership in integration plans. Ownership should be assigned for each key organizational function, but that ownership should fall on the hands at the highest possible tier of the ladder. Each person in charge needs to be someone who has the authority to make knowledgeable and swift moves in response to challenges. This is especially important for a small business M&A where roles and responsibilities tend to run together.

Communication Is King

Not a single step of an M&A should take place without an effective communication strategy. This all starts with bringing in stakeholders and having highly communicative meetings on the whats and whys of the merger, and how each of them will be individually impacted by the process.

Make regular communication, in every imaginable form a key priority in your M&A. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of the feedback you receive in response to these communications. When you listen, you’ll discover that team member feedback offers incredible insights.

Don’t Forget That an M&A Advisory Firm Is a Key Partner

At Steiner Business Solutions, we offer merger and acquisition services out of our Wilmington, NC and Richmond, VA offices. We’re the partners who can guide and advise you through every step for a more successful, fluid M&A transaction. Contact our advisors at Steiner Business Solutions if you’re considering a merger and acquisition now, or in the near future.  

 

 

5 Small Business Tax Mistakes That Are Easy to Avoid

For most small businesses, tax season 2019 has officially come to a close. However, if you’ve filed for an extension or had such a difficult time with your taxes that you’re planning ahead for next year, then taxes are probably still at the forefront of your mind.

Tax season can be incredibly stressful for small businesses, especially with tax laws being so complicated. This opens the door for mistakes that can cost small businesses money and increase the chances of undergoing a dreaded audit. If tax preparation is keeping you up at night, here are five of the most common tax mistakes small businesses make and how you can avoid them.

Inaccurate Reports of Income

For small businesses that have their hands full of juggling a ton of responsibilities, accurate record keeping can easily fall to the wayside. This is problematic because it can lead to inaccurately reporting income to the IRS. This is an offense that the IRS takes very seriously, even if it wasn’t intentional.

You’re probably not going to receive a serious penalty for an honest mistake, but you will likely have to pay the amount due plus some significant fines. To eliminate the potential of inaccurate reporting, maintain accurate records of all income for your business, and don’t save updating your records for the week before the tax deadline.

Filing Late Due to Lack of Funds

If you know that you’re going to be late filing and paying your taxes, it’s important to file for an extension. However, whether you file for an extension or not, you’re still going to see interest and possibly penalties on the amount you owe.

A business might delay filing their taxes for as long as possible because they’re unable to afford their tax obligation. If this is the case, contact the IRS and inquire about a payment agreement. The IRS is much more accommodating when you take the initiative rather than waiting for them to come after you.

Failing to Claim Deductions

As a small business, there are numerous deductions that you’re allowed to take. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is not being aware of these deductions and missing an opportunity to reduce their tax liability. Scheduling a consultation with a professional in business tax preparation in Richmond, VA is your best option for maximizing business deductions.

Not Having a Grasp on Payroll Taxes

Growth is a great thing for small businesses. When a business reaches the point where they’re ready to branch out and hire employees, it creates a whole new set of tax related responsibilities. For instance, you’ll need to understand the difference between W-2 employees and 1099 contractors, along with knowing the process for calculating, reporting and paying employee payroll taxes. Not having a grasp on payroll taxes can make tax preparation a nightmare.

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

Finally, the last and biggest tax mistake that small businesses make is attempting to handle the overwhelming challenges of taxes on their own. Small business taxes are complex, and one small error can cost your business significantly. Don’t leave anything as important as the financial future of your small business up to chance. Contact Steiner Business Solutions for experienced and detailed tax preparation services in Richmond, VA today.

5 Bookkeeping Tips to Get a Clear View of Your Business’s Financial Health

As a small business owner, it’s likely you wear a lot of hats. From marketing to managing employees to sourcing products, there’s a lot of tasks to oversee. So where does that leave your bookkeeping? Properly maintaining a record of your business’s expenses is vital to both day to day operations and its long-term longevity. Every single one of those numbers is crucial and even one small mistake could spiral into a much bigger problem.

Proper bookkeeping and accounting is important because they serve as barometers for your business’s success. Fortunately, small business bookkeeping doesn’t need to be something you dread. It’s often the smallest changes in how you approach bookkeeping that can make all the difference for improving accuracy and reducing headaches.

Ready to streamline your bookkeeping process and gain a clearer view of your business’s financial health? Here are five small business bookkeeping tips for getting the job done.

Be Meticulous with Invoicing

As a small business owner, you’re wearing a lot of different hats and it can feel as though your attention is constantly being pulled in several different directions. With so much going on, it’s easy to become a little lazy when it comes to keeping up with your invoices.

If there’s one thing you make a priority for bookkeeping, it should be to become meticulous with invoice tracking and record keeping. Take 15 minutes each day to update invoices and make sure all accounts reflect current activity.

Separation Is Important

A mistake that too many new small businesses make is lumping all of their funds into one account. There are so many moving parts to small business finances that it’s important to separate these components as soon as possible.

For instance, separate out personal finances and business finances, even if you’re a sole proprietor with a relatively small operation. You’ll also want to separate income that comes from different sources – for example, incoming funds from paying clients versus funds that come from loans.

Keep Your Head in the Clouds

Cloud accounting software can make your life so much easier. Cloud accounting software can make it easy to capture financial information, store it for easy access, and gain a big-picture perspective of your business’s financial health for future growth and investments.

Don’t Put Off Taxes

Tax season is notorious for sending small business owners over the brink of frustration. Small business taxes can be complicated but the sooner you prepare for them, the less of a challenge they’ll be. Prepare early by understanding your tax requirements, anticipated payments, tax-related payroll obligations, and marking important tax deadlines on your calendar.

Hiring a Bookkeeping Professional

There are endless complexities to small business accounting. If you’d like to save yourself the stress and headaches, there are professionals who can provide you with business solutions, including bookkeeping for small businesses.

At Steiner Business Solutions, we offer a range of services for small businesses in Wilmington, NC and Richmond, VA. Our services include bookkeeping, accounting, tax preparation and more. Let us take care of the numbers while you tend to the other important aspects of running a successful business. Contact Steiner Business Solutions today to learn more.

5 Best Practices When Outsourcing Your Bookkeeping

Here’s the good news: your business is growing, and you and your team are busier than ever before. The bad news? You’re quickly realizing a few things: the recruitment, hiring and retention process for an internal bookkeeper is costly, and you just don’t have the time you need to do your bookkeeping.

It’s time to explore outsourcing your bookkeeping. But how do you know you’ll get the quality you expect? Here are some of the best practices you should follow when considering to outsource your bookkeeping.

Best Practice #1: Seek Out Experience

The last thing you want is to put your books in the hands of an unestablished, inexperienced company. You need a company that has the know-how and the hands-on experience to handle anything you throw their way. Sure, a brand-new company might offer you a “deal,” but is it worth risking your business’s bookkeeping to take advantage of a discount?

Better yet, an experienced bookkeeping firm reduces risk by taking several risk mitigating measures including being insured. You’re far less likely to fall victim to theft and be on the hook when you work with a company who has a longstanding reputation for excellent work. When you can read glowing reviews about the work that’s been done over the years, it gives you something truly priceless: peace of mind.  

Best Practice #2: Ensure the Company Can Grow With You

You don’t want to fully onboard a new bookkeeping service only to discover that they can’t grow with you or bridge the gaps. Be sure that they’ve got the manpower and time to increase the time they spend with you each month should the need arise! Conversely, if you’re having a slow season, ask if they are able to accommodate fewer hours without financially penalizing you.

Best Practice #3: Don’t Commit to a Long-Term Contract

If a bookkeeping company you’re considering is asking that you sign a year-long contract, you might want to take a moment and think before you put pen to paper. What are your responsibilities if, for some reason, you choose to part ways with your bookkeeping firm before the contract is completed? Will you be expected to pay until the end of the contract, even if you decide you’d prefer to bring the books back in-house a few months after you signed?

Ideally, you’ll find a  bookkeeping service that offers month-to-month service plans, so you can move on whenever you’re ready.

Best Practice #4: Don’t Bargain Hunt for Bookkeepers

You’ve heard the old expression, “You get what you pay for.” If you search for a cut-rate bookkeeping service, it’s far too likely that you’ll get below-average quality services to match the lower-than-usual price.

Yes, it’s important for your business to save money, but your bookkeeping isn’t a place where you want to scrimp. You can probably find “freelance” bookkeepers at a bargain-basement rate, but where’s the guarantee that their work is truly professional? If you’re wasting time fixing mistakes and paying penalties because your bookkeeping isn’t able to complete your work in a timely fashion, you’re not really saving money after all.

Best Practice #5: Get a Comprehensive Quote

If a bookkeeping company can offer you a quick quote over the phone with any real details of your situation, you might take that quote with a grain of salt. As you know, accounting has a lot of variables; it’s probably going to take a consultation of some sort for your bookkeeping firm to fully understand the scope of work before them.

Before you commit to working with an outsourced bookkeeping firm, be sure that they clearly understand your expectations and are prepared (and properly equipped) to handle them.

Work With the Experts

Your bookkeeping is a central part of ensuring that your business stays afloat. Entrust it to professionals. At Steiner Business Solutions, we take our years of bookkeeping expertise and apply it to your business, ensuring that vital tasks such as bank reconciliations, payroll, financial statements, bill payment, and more are completed correctly and on time. Ready to talk? Click here to contact us today!

The 2019 Tax Changes That Will Affect Your Business

If you’re a small-business owner, you’ve probably heard of the 2018 tax bill—also known as “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” This bill has not only changed individual taxes, but it’s also reformed corporate taxes in the U.S.—especially for small businesses.


Here’s what you need to know:

The new pass-through income deduction

Originally touted as the tax break that would provide relief for small business owners, a 20% deduction is included in the bill for what they call “pass-through” income. This encompasses any income you receive from pass-through entities, including sole proprietorships, LLCs, partnerships, and S-Corps. Other types of income that are included under this umbrella include estate income as well as any dividends you may receive from Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, stocks.

That said, there’s one restriction that you should know about: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act places a cap on the maximum amount of income that any people who work in what they deem “professional services” businesses (think lawyers, doctors, or consultants) can earn if they want to utilize this deduction. This pass-through deduction for professional services business will take effect for the tax year of 2018; people with AGI greater than $157,500 (single filers) or $315,000 (married filing jointly) will be impacted.

Tax Deductions That Are Gone

Many long-standing tax deductions managed to survive the processes that brought the latest tax bill into being—  some with modifications, some in their original form. However, not every tax deduction made the cut, so to speak. After all, the sole purpose of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act wasn’t to offer tax relief; lawmaker sought to make the U.S. tax code simpler. This simplification meant that some deductions that had been part of the landscape for some time are no longer valid.

Wondering which deductions are missing? Here are a few of the most significant tax breaks that were removed from the tax code:

  • Casualty and theft losses — Previously, you could deduct the value of stolen items if your home was burgled. As of 2018, this deduction is only valid for any losses that are the result of a federally declared disaster.
  • Moving expenses — In the old tax code, moving expenses were a deduction that was considered “above-the-line”– you could take them even if you didn’t itemize your taxes. This deduction was intended to counteract the expenses related to moving for employment. Today, this deduction is no longer permitted, unless you fall within the parameters of certain forms of active-duty military service.
  • The “miscellaneous deduction” category — At last— a part of the tax code that was truly simplified! Previously, this consisted of a lengthy list of the deductions Americans could utilize. This list was applicable to the extent that they exceeded 2% of AGI, and it included items such as tax preparation expenses, expenses related to employment, and many more. Effective for the 2018 tax year, taxpayers can no longer utilize these deductions. Any taxpayers who have depended on these deductions in years past might feel a pinch now that they’re no longer available.

Tips to Make Tax Time Easier for Your Business

From January 1 through April 15, it might feel like a wild sprint to get your tax return filed on time. It might be the way you’ve always handled the annual pain that is tax time, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t break the cycle. Here are a few tips that will help ease the impending sense of panic!

  • Think about taxes all year long. Small business owners should not treat income taxes as a once-a-year event. Rather, tax planning should be a year-round activity. Waiting until the last minute just complicates the tax preparation process, and it limits your money-saving options. If you want to truly simplify your tax return, take steps to ensure that you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.
  • Be aware of law changes. Even with the help of a skilled professional, a small business owner must keep up with news related to laws. Staying on top of tax law will help you ensure your tax professional is doing the best possible job, and it keeps you informed as a business owner. Read the business papers and keep up with Congress’ work on tax laws. For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have a not-insignificant impact on next year’s tax return— if you’re not aware of the changes this bill will bring to your tax plan, you could find yourself facing significant payments that could have been avoided with a little bit of planning.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Tax planning, to some extent, is a gamble. Never make business decisions assuming that particular tax breaks will pass, or that certain policies will be enacted. You don’t want to be caught short when your assumptions don’t become reality.

We’ve Got You Covered

These changes may be confusing. That’s not surprising— the tax code is extensive.  However, there’s good news; if you work with experienced professionals, you don’t need to worry too much about them. At Steiner Business Solutions, we apply our know-how and training to make sure that you’re adhering to the updated tax code. We will calculate the effect of these changes on your bank account. Ready to talk? Click here to contact us today.

3 Year End Tax Tips For Small Businesses

It’s that time of year again. Time to review the past year and identify strategies that worked and the ones that didn’t.. A time to start forecasting for the future, referring to actuals for reasonable budget estimates. A time to cash flow annual employee bonuses. Yes folks, it’s year end.

These are things most business owners are thinking about as December 31st or fiscal year end approaches. But one thing that’s often overlooked is what needs to be done to optimize the company’s position when it comes time to file the tax returns.

We’ve put together a list of three year end tax tips to help you get your financial house in order ahead of tax season. Let’s dive in!

Year End Tax Tip #1 Don’t Skip Meeting With Your Accountant

If you do nothing else, set up a meeting with your accountant to discuss tax strategies before year end.

Why? Because with a little forecasting and tax planning, you could save your company thousands of tax dollars (and penalty payments), and you can do some cash planning to avoid a crunch in Q1.

Tax Deductions

Your accountant is up to date on all the current tax laws, including ones that allow certain advantageous deductions of which you may not be aware.

Know what your options are if you’re planning to buy equipment in the next few months. It may make sense to purchase it before year end and take the depreciation, or it may make sense to wait until the new year.

You may want to run the numbers and reap certain  tax benefits under Section 179, which has a deduction limit of $1,000,000.

Deferred Income

If your company books run on an accrual or modified cash basis, talk to your accountant about whether it’s possible to defer income. Deferring income could be the key to maintaining a healthy cash flow as you head into the new year.

Payroll Taxes and Compliance

If you’ve been drawing down on cash assets to pay yourself throughout the year, you’ll need to run a year end payroll to reflect your income and to pay the appropriate employee and employer payroll taxes.

Waiting until after the deadline can cause headaches— and big bucks. Your accountant can help you gross up those draws and make state and federal payroll deposits on your behalf ahead of tax deadlines.

Plus, if you meet with your accountant in advance, you can cash plan to accommodate these upcoming expenses.

Bottom Line:

Don’t put off meeting with your accountant at year end. You’ll probably regret it when the taxman comes calling!

Year End Tax Tip #2 Get Your Books In Shape

You and your accountant can’t make realistic, accurate projections for tax planning if your books aren’t up to date. So add your books to that new year’s resolution to get in shape.

Reconcile Your Accounts

Make sure your cash, credit card and any line of credit accounts are reconciled through the most current month prior to your meeting date with your accountant. (That includes PayPal and any other balances that affect the financials.)

You can’t make accurate cash and tax projections if your cash or liability accounts are misstated on the financials. And you probably don’t want to stay up until dawn catching up on a year’s worth of data entry at the eleventh hour.

Shoeboxes Are For Shoes

You don’t want to show up to your accountant’s office with a shoebox full of a year’s worth of receipts and nothing recorded in the books.

Aside from reasons listed above, your accountant may not have the time or resources available to get that information entered before the deadline which may mean you’ll have to file for an extension. And you’ll want organized records for audit trail purposes.

Plus, it’s just not a good leverage of your resources to pay a highly skilled accounting professional to do the work of an accounts payable or receivable clerk.

Retained Earnings

Compare retained earnings from the prior year to make sure there are no changes to the ending balance.

If there’s a difference, it means you’ve made entries affecting prior year numbers, which have already been reported to state and federal agencies on your tax returns. Ask your accountant about how to correct this problem.

Bottom Line:

If you want accurate projections, get your books up to date!

Year End Tax Tip #3 Charitable Giving

It’s not just about tax deductions, of course, but giving to your favorite charity can in fact reduce your tax liability.

Plan Your Giving

Take time to give some thought to which charity or charities support a mission that’s important to you. Corporate giving should be intentional, not last-minute.

Do your due diligence to make sure the charity is reputable, and know before you donate whether or not contributions are tax deductible.

In Kind Donations

Donations don’t necessarily have to be in the form of cash.

Consider holding a year end food or clothing drive in the office and donate the items to a reputable charity, or donate an item to a charity’s silent auction.

Most in-kind contributions can be claimed as a deduction for the fair market value of the items donated.

Get Proper Documentation

Charities generally send out thank you letters to donors along with a record of the cash or in-kind donation. Follow up with them if you haven’t received one.

These letters should also contain the organization’s tax identification number, and confirm whether the donation is tax deductible..

Bottom Line:

Not only does charitable giving support a cause that’s important to you, it can provide a tax deduction and it lets the community know you’re a good corporate citizen.
Whether you need help with tax planning, tax preparation or business consulting services, we invite you to visit our website, or give our offices a call at (804.525.4259).

Steiner Business Solutions Opens New Office in Wilmington NC

Steiner Business Solutions has announced the opening of a new office location in beautiful Wilmington NC. This marks the company’s first venture outside of Virginia. The North Carolina location enables the company to expand its market reach into the small business community, where it provides valuable bookkeeping, accounting, tax preparation, and business consulting services.

For Steiner Business Solutions, this fits right in with the company’s motto, “Bridging the Gap,” shown in the stylized bridge in its logo. The company is constantly reaching out to new customers and new communities, helping small businesses grow.

Steiner Business Solutions started as a small business itself, and takes pride in helping other small businesses with planning, productivity, and success. From its home base in Richmond, VA, the company has expanded into surrounding areas, including its new site in Wilmington NC.

This is just one of several new acquisitions for Steiner Business Solutions. It acquired a Richmond-based bookkeeping and bill paying company last year, and is currently exploring other options that will allow continued expansion to serve more customers.

Dan Steiner, CEO of Steiner Business Solutions, expects the acquisition to go smoothly. Current customers shouldn’t notice any change in service because the company is well-prepared for the integration.

About Steiner Business Solutions

Steiner Business Solutions provides a full range of services to small businesses, including bookkeeping, business consulting, fractional CFO services, payroll, QuickBooks training, tax preparation and planning. The Steiner Business Solutions brand serves as a single one-stop shop for small business owners. Steiner Business Solutions is based in Richmond, VA and was founded in 2006. For more information, visit steinerbusinesssolutions.com.