Business Taxes

Is your business susceptible to payroll fraud?

Posted on Feb 2, 2018

Unless a small business owner handles all aspects of computing and paying payroll, there is room for fraud. Even if your company has only a few employees — it does not guarantee your funds will be safe. How payroll fraud happens Perhaps one of the easiest payroll fraud techniques is the overpayment of withholding or payroll taxes. Your bookkeeper simply overpays the government. When the refund check arrives, the employee deposits it to his or her personal account. In some cases, the employee will have an account at a different bank but in the company name. Such an account could be used for the fraudulent deposit of other company receipts as well. The greater the number of employees, the easier it is for someone to pull off a scam. Perhaps the payroll clerk has invented a fictitious employee or falsifies hours or commissions for a cooperating employee who shares the stolen funds. Or perhaps the employee holds the payroll deposit funds in his or her own interest-bearing account until it is time to make the payroll deposit to the government. How to prevent payroll fraud Small businesses can be exceptionally susceptible to payroll fraud because they often lack anti-fraud controls that larger organizations have in place. Here’s a few ways you can work toward preventing this type of fraud: Get outside help. A payroll review by an independent accountant may help prevent employee schemes. Divvy up duties. Even in small companies, it is possible to divide office tasks to make employee theft more difficult. Limit payroll access. Figure out who needs to have access to payroll data. That list will likely be very small. Make sure it stays that way. Offer direct deposit. No paper checks means less opportunities for employees to handle funds, meaning greater security all around. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Does your business need cyber insurance?

Posted on Jan 31, 2018

It’s a nightmare scenario few small businesses consider: hackers breach your computer system, steal your customer lists and threaten to exploit sensitive data. Data breaches by malicious individuals don’t just pose a financial risk. They threaten your reputation and can trigger litigation if your customers blame you for the exposure of their data. So far, many of the victims of these high-profile attacks are large corporations. A poster child for this is the massive 2017 cyber breach of the credit reporting agency Equifax, which affected more than 143 million Americans. Equifax’s financial loss was estimated at $125 million, equal to more than a quarter of their net income during 2016. Equifax also reportedly faces more than 50 class action lawsuits, which also may be covered by the company’s insurers. Here are some things to consider regarding the management of your cyber risk with potential insurance coverage: • Do you have coverage? Your insurance policy may already cover some of the risks of cyber attacks. A good place to start is to review your policy and understand what is covered, if anything. Also spend time evaluating your potential risk to determine how it correlates to your insurance coverage. • Comprehensive or partial? Depending upon how you assess your risk, you may consider either comprehensive cyber insurance or partial coverage in the form of a rider or endorsement on an existing policy. Talk to your current insurance firm to determine your alternatives. Because cyber insurance is still a new service, your provider’s options may be limited. The cyber insurance market is currently dominated by four major insurers that offer comprehensive insurance, according to Business Insurance magazine: American International Group, Beazley, Chubb and Zurich Insurance Group. Partial coverage may include riders covering errors and omissions, and the cost of business interruption caused by cyber attacks. • Unique elements of a cyber insurance policy. Most comprehensive cyber insurance policies cover breach-response and forensic costs. This covers the cost of finding the cause of a data breach, fixing it and limiting the damage. Comprehensive policies should provide liability coverage in case you are sued by customers as a result of their data being exposed during the attack. • Know the exclusions. Some cyber insurance policies do not cover breaches caused by infrastructure failure, or attacks by state-sanctioned hackers, according to ThinkAdvisor. There have been many high-profile cyber attacks allegedly attributed to hackers affiliated with the Russian and Chinese governments in recent years, so know how your policy covers this situation. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Lend to family in a tax-friendly way

Posted on Jan 3, 2018

Lending money to family members can be tricky sometimes – especially when it comes to taxes. The best way to avoid tax problems is to charge interest on your family loan (because the IRS will tax you for it!), or know the interest-free exceptions. You can gift money to your relatives under the gift tax exemption of $14,000 ($15,000 in 2018), or you can ensure the loan is under $10,000 and won’t be used to purchase income-producing property. Call us for details. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Business year-end tax moves-Give your business some holiday cheer

Posted on Dec 14, 2017

Even though the end of 2017 is near, it is not too late to get your business into the best possible tax position for the new year. Here are some year-end tax moves to consider: Consider vehicle purchases. There are several tax deductions available if you own a vehicle for business use. General expenses can be tax-deductible, including fuel, oil changes, general repairs and even new tires. Depreciation, insurance and interest on a business car loan are also tax-deductible expenses. While there are special limits to the amount that can be depreciated for most vehicles each year, the benefits can often outweigh the costs. Update the office. A fresh coat of paint and new office furnishings not only make your place of business more comfortable, they also provide another tax deduction. How you handle deducting these expenses will vary depending upon whether you own or lease your office space, so reach out for assistance if you have questions. Reward your staff. If you have sufficient cash flow, giving your staff a year-end bonus is a great way to let them know you appreciate them. It’s also tax-deductible. Treat a client. If there are clients you haven’t contacted in a while, it’s a good time of the year to take them out for a nice (not lavish) breakfast or dinner and deduct 50 percent of the meal. Who knows, you may be able to generate some new business while you collect a tax benefit. Update your skills. Attend a workshop or conference to improve your professional skills. While there are some limitations, many travel, lodging and out-of-pocket expenses related to professional training are tax-deductible. Plan for the future. If you don’t already have some type of retirement plan for yourself and your employees in place, now may be a good time to set one up. There are tax credits and other incentives available to employers who start a retirement plan. Employer contributions to the plan are usually tax-deductible. There are a variety of plans available depending upon the kind of business you do, each with their own rules and regulations. Be nimble. Recent discussions in Congress could mean a dramatic change in taxes on business profits beginning in 2018. Stay abreast of these developments in case you need to make last-minute moves to shift profits from one year to the next to reduce your tax rate. There are a lot of nuances in the tax code affecting each of these end-of-year moves. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need advice. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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4 Business Year-End Tax Moves

Posted on Dec 12, 2017

Even though the end of 2017 is near, it is not too late to get your business into the best possible tax position for the new year. Here are some year-end tax moves to consider: Update the office. A fresh coat of paint and new office furnishings not only make your place of business more comfortable, they also provide another tax deduction. How you handle deducting these expenses will vary depending upon whether you own or lease your office space, so reach out for assistance if you have questions. Reward your staff. If you have sufficient cash flow, giving your staff a yearend bonus is a great way to let them know you appreciate them. It’s also tax deductible. Update your skills. Attend a workshop or conference to improve your professional skills. While there are some limitations, many travel, lodging and out-of-pocket expenses related to professional training are tax-deductible. Be nimble. Recent discussions in Congress could mean a dramatic change in taxes on business profits beginning in 2018. Stay abreast of these developments in case you need to make last-minute moves to shift profits from one year to the next to reduce your tax rate. There are a lot of nuances in the tax code affecting each of these end-of-year moves. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need...

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Get ready to save more in 2018

Posted on Dec 5, 2017

You can save more for retirement next year using tax-advantaged accounts, thanks to a boost in the maximum 401(k) contribution rate by the IRS. The maximum rate increases by $500 to $18,500, which is the first increase in three years. Those aged 50 or older can still contribute an additional $6,000 on top of that amount. This is good news, because a 401(k) is one of most potent tools in your retirement arsenal. It offers many benefits over other forms of saving, including: Tax-deferred growth. Pre-tax income of $18,500 invested over 30 years with 6 percent annual cumulative interest will grow to $111,901.92. That’s compared with $67,588.76 of the same amount of income invested after being taxed at the highest rate. While you’ll owe tax on 401(k) withdrawals after retirement, you may be able to manage your 401(k) withdrawals to fall into a lower income bracket. Roth option. You may opt to make your contributions to a 401(k) as a Roth investment, meaning you invest post-tax income, but you can withdraw from your Roth tax-free during retirement. A mix of traditional and Roth accounts will give you flexibility to manage your income tax rate during retirement. Company match. Many companies offer to match the first few percentage points of their employees contributions to a 401(k). Even if you can’t max out your contribution, you should try to invest up to your company’s match limit. Otherwise, you’re just leaving money on the table. While 401(k)s have great utility, they come with a few downsides. Any withdrawals made before age 59 1/2 are assessed a 10 percent penalty fee, in addition to being taxed as regular income during the year they are withdrawn. Any investments in 401(k)s also are limited to a few choices set by your employer’s retirement plan, so a limited number of conventional investment options in mutual funds is one of the trade-offs of using a...

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