• 401(k) Hardship Distributions

    401(k) Hardship Distributions

    When participants request hardship distributions from a 401(k) plan, employers must collect and store documents showing that the participant had an immediate and heavy financial need to permit such a distribution. In today’s digital age, you might wonder whether you could instead allow participants to certify their needs electronically. The short answer is a tentative “yes” — if you already use self-certification to establish the necessity of the requested distribution and carefully follow a procedure authorized by the IRS a couple of years ago.  Read More »
  • Business Plans

    Business Plans

    Every new company should launch with a business plan and keep it updated. Generally, such a plan will comprise six sections: executive summary, business description, industry and marketing analysis, management team description, implementation plan, and financials. Now, ideally, you would comprehensively update each section every year. But if the size, shape and objectives of your company haven’t changed all that much, you may not need to make major revisions to the entire plan. However, at the very least, you should always review and revise your financials.  Read More »
  • Non-Profit Contributions and Grants

    Non-Profit Contributions and Grants

    Accounting for contributions and grants has often proven complicated for not-for-profits, especially when they come with donor-imposed conditions. But 2018 guidance from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) provided some much-needed clarification of earlier instructions. Traditionally, nonprofits have taken varying approaches to characterizing grants and similar contracts as exchange transactions (also known as reciprocal transactions) or contributions (nonreciprocal transactions).  Read More »
  • Creepers


    If you devote all your business’s security resources to fending off hackers and other cybercriminals, you may be unlocking the door, literally, to more basic types of theft. “Creepers” are criminals who gain access to offices or other physical facilities via unlocked doors and social engineering tactics. Once in, they steal proprietary information, inventory, computers and personal property, or gather information that makes it easier to hack your network.  Read More »
  • COBRA Notices

    COBRA Notices

    When an employer’s staff size reaches 20 or more, it’s generally required to offer “COBRA” health care coverage to departing employees. (The name comes from the legislation that made it law: the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.) If your organization is subject to COBRA, you may wonder whether you must provide the initial coverage notices every year.  Read More »
  • EAP Vendors

    EAP Vendors

    In today’s high-anxiety world, it’s not uncommon for employees to battle personal problems such as substance dependence, financial and legal woes, and mental health issues. These struggles can negatively affect their productivity and the working environment around them. Employers can help by offering an employee assistance program (EAP). This benefit seeks to assist at-risk employees in finding professional help.  Read More »
  • Typosquatters


    The Web has opened plenty of new avenues for criminal behavior. For example, you may have heard of cybersquatting. Someone registers a site’s domain name that includes a trademark and then tries to profit by selling that name to the trademark owner. But are you familiar with typosquatting? You should be — because these schemes can make just about any organization, along with visitors to its website, the victims of fraud.  Read More »
  • Youth Sports League Fraud

    Youth Sports League Fraud

    Who would defraud a kids’ organization? The answer, unfortunately, is that trusted adults sometimes steal from not-for-profits benefiting children. Youth sports leagues and teams, for example, are ripe for fraud. Cash transactions are common, and coaches and board members usually are volunteers with little accountability. If you or your children are involved in a youth sports league, here’s what you can do to ensure that its funds support the kids, not thieves.  Read More »
  • How to Withdraw Cash from your Corporation

    How to Withdraw Cash from your Corporation

    Do you want to withdraw cash from your closely held corporation at a low tax cost? The easiest way is to distribute cash as a dividend. However, a dividend distribution isn’t tax-efficient, since it’s taxable to you to the extent of your corporation’s “earnings and profits.” But it’s not deductible by the corporation. Fortunately, there are several alternative methods that may allow you to withdraw cash from a corporation while avoiding dividend treatment.  Read More »
  • College Tax Credits

    College Tax Credits

    The latest figures from the College Board show that the average annual cost of tuition and fees was $10,230 for in-state students at public four-year universities — and $35,830 for students at private not-for-profit four-year institutions. These amounts don’t include room and board, books, supplies, transportation and other expenses that a student may incur. Fortunately, the federal government offers two sizable college tax credits for higher education costs that you may be able to claim.  Read More »
  • Cash Balance Plans

    Cash Balance Plans

    With a cash balance plan, the employer commits to adding a fixed percentage of participants’ compensation to an “account” that’s, strictly speaking, more of an accounting device than an actual account as used in 401(k) plans. In addition, the sponsor credits earnings to those accounts. The interest crediting formula can be fixed, linked to an index or a combination of the two. Previously, most plans pegged their rate to rates on long-term Treasury bonds. Sponsors have more recently been using an “actual rate of return” crediting formula (subject to certain floors). Most employers offer cash balance plans in conjunction with 401(k) plans, and not on a stand-alone basis.  Read More »
  • HRAs and Business Owners

    HRAs and Business Owners

    Many companies now offer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). HRAs offer some advantages over the perhaps better-known HDHP companion account, the Health Savings Account (HSA). If you’re considering adding an HRA, you might assume that, as a business owner, you can participate in the HRA. But this may not be the case.  Read More »
  • Health Care Fraud

    Health Care Fraud

    Even if you haven’t heard much about it lately, know this: Health care fraud is alive and well in the United States. Here’s a roundup of recent stats, law enforcement initiatives, common fraud schemes and how you can help prevent these crimes.  Read More »
  • OK to Truncate SSNs

    OK to Truncate SSNs

    The IRS recently issued final regulations that permit employers to voluntarily truncate employee Social Security Numbers (SSNs) on copies of Forms W-2 furnished to employees. The purpose of the regs is to aid employers’ efforts in protecting workers from identity theft. Read More »
  • IRA Distributions

    IRA Distributions

    If you’re like many people, you’ve worked hard to accumulate a large nest egg in your traditional IRA (including a SEP-IRA). It’s even more critical to carefully plan for withdrawals from these retirement-savings vehicles. Knowing the fine points of the IRA distribution rules can make a significant difference in how much you and your family will get to keep after taxes. Here are three IRA areas to understand:  Read More »
  • Will Advice

    Will Advice

    Understanding the contents of a will. You probably don’t have to be told about the need for a will. But do you know what provisions should be included and what’s best to leave out? The answers to those questions depend on your situation and may depend on state law.  Read More »
  • Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans

    Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans

    Many growing businesses and other types of employers want to offer a 401(k) plan but don’t want to deal with the stress and administrative challenges of following the IRS’s nondiscrimination testing rules for elective deferrals and matching contributions. One potential solution may be to set up a “safe harbor” 401(k). Such plans aren’t subject to nondiscrimination testing if they satisfy certain contribution, vesting and notice requirements. Here are a few basics on this intriguing retirement benefits option.  Read More »
  • Hiring a CFO

    Hiring a CFO

    Many business owners reach a point where managing the financial side of the enterprise becomes overwhelming. Usually, this is a good thing — the company has grown to a point where simple bookkeeping and basic financial reporting just don’t cut it anymore. If you can relate to the feeling, it may be time to add a CFO or controller. But you’ve got to first consider whether your payroll can take on this generally high-paying position and exactly what you’d get in return.  Read More »
  • Home Office Deduction

    Home Office Deduction

    Working from home has its perks. Not only can you skip the commute, but you also might be eligible to deduct home office expenses on your tax return. Deductions for these expenses can save you a bundle, if you meet the tax law qualifications. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees can no longer claim the home office deduction. If, however, you run a business from your home or are otherwise self-employed and use part of your home for business purposes, the home office deduction may still be available to you.  Read More »
  • Mobile Phone Fraud

    Mobile Phone Fraud

    Mobile phone fraud schemes in which thieves open a phone account in your name and use it to access your bank account, sign up for credit cards and gain access to personal information are only some of the recent fraud trends. Fraudsters have plenty of ways to defraud consumers through their phones.  Read More »
  • Retirement Plans for Small Business

    Retirement Plans for Small Business

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a final rule which should make it easier for smaller businesses to provide retirement plans to their employees. According to the DOL, the rule will enable more small and midsize unrelated businesses to join forces in multiple employer plans (MEPs) that provide their employees a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k) plan or a SIMPLE IRA plan. Certain self-employed individuals also can participate in MEPs.  Read More »
  • Accounting Rule Delays

    Accounting Rule Delays

    On July 17, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) voted to issue a proposal that would delay several landmark accounting rules for certain companies. If finalized, these accounting rule delays would apply to new guidance for reporting leases, hedging transactions, credit losses and long-term insurance contracts.  Read More »
  • Power of Attorney ABCs

    Power of Attorney ABCs

    When drafting your estate plan, you and your attorney must account for what happens to your children and your assets after you die. But your plan must also spell out your wishes for making financial and medical decisions if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself. A crucial component of this plan is the power of attorney (POA). Read More »
  • Reviewing Your Investments

    Reviewing Your Investments

    You may have heard about a proposal in Washington to cut the taxes paid on investments by indexing capital gains to inflation. Under the proposal, the purchase price of assets would be adjusted so that no tax is paid on the appreciation due to inflation.  Read More »
  • Corporate Governance

    Corporate Governance

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) doesn’t monitor just publicly traded companies. It also looks at the dealings of some private companies, often to the surprise of their owners and executives. Corporate governance is one area to which you need to pay attention.  Read More »
  • Generation Z

    Generation Z

    By now, most employers have read up on, hired and gotten to know Millennials. Well, guess what? A whole new demographic is here: Generation Z. Whereas Millennials are generally those who came of age around the Millennium, Gen Z are typically regarded as those born just before, on or relatively soon after the year 2000.  Read More »
  • Calculating Fraud Damages

    Calculating Fraud Damages

    Calculating fraud damages isn’t as simple as it may seem. When businesses are defrauded, courts can — and in some states must — order restitution. But it isn’t always easy for judges to decide how much a company has lost. That’s where fraud experts can help.  Read More »
  • Midyear KPIs

    Midyear KPIs

    We’ve reached the middle of the calendar year. So how are things going for your business? Conversationally you might say, “Pretty good.” But, analytically, can you put a number on how well you’re doing — or several numbers for that matter? You can if you choose and calculate the right key performance indicators (KPIs).  Read More »
  • Nonprofit Trade Associations

    Nonprofit Trade Associations

    Nonprofit trade associations, or 501(c)(6) organizations, exist to promote their members’ common interests and improve business conditions or “one or more lines of interest.” Whether the association is a local chamber of commerce, a real estate board or a large professional group, associations’ tax-exempt status is contingent on their sponsoring certain types of activities — and avoiding others. When they fail to do so, the IRS may take action.  Read More »
  • Social Security Phone Scams

    Social Security Phone Scams

    Despite the National Do Not Call registry and features such as caller ID, phone fraud, including social security phone scams, are thriving in the mobile phone era. Using spoofed numbers — which appear to be connected to legitimate government offices and businesses or that resemble your own number — fraud perpetrators say anything and everything to try to steal your money. Recently, scammers have posed as Social Security officials to steal from unsuspecting consumers. Since January 2018, the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 63,000 reports about this scam. Only 3% of reporting call recipients lost money, but the losses total $16.6 million.  Read More »