- Late Filing Penalties. Plan administrators and sponsors who fail to file required forms can face penalties of up to $15,000 per return. The plan usually must file Form 5500-EZ each year.
- Penalty Relief Deadline. A special program provides penalty relief for late filers. Those who are eligible can avoid these penalties by filing late returns by June 2, 2015.
- Relief to Certain Plans. In general, this program is open to certain small business plans. These include owner-spouse plans, plans of business partnerships (together, “one-participant plans”) and certain foreign plans.
- Penalty Already Assessed. If you have already been assessed a penalty for late filings you are not eligible for this program.
- One-Year Pilot. The IRS launched this program on June 2, 2014, as a one-year pilot. It can help small businesses that may have been unaware of their plan’s filing requirements. So far, the IRS has received about 6,000 late returns under the program.
- Multiple Late Returns. You may apply for relief for multiple late returns in a single submission under this program.
- No Fee Required. The IRS does not charge a filing fee or require a payment to apply for this relief.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
You still have time to file retirement plan tax returns for your small business. Under the IRS special penalty relief program, you can avoid stiff penalties for filing late. However, you must act soon. Here are some key points you should know about this program:
Most of us can recall at least one great teacher who really made a difference in our lives. Bosses can be the same. There are the bosses who teach, mentor, guide and help you grow in your career, and then there are those who rule more like Genghis Khan and make life miserable. Where you fall as a leader makes a difference for morale, productivity, retention and hiring.
Consider these comparisons:
· Great leaders respect and appreciate employees—and know an investment in employees has huge return on investment (ROI) potential.
· Bad leaders don’t value every opinion and lack a big picture view of how every effort plays a role in ultimate success.
· Great leaders see employees as human beings, and invest in their professional development and overall well-being.
· Bad leaders hide faults, and often see employees only as resources to carry out an agenda.
· Great leaders get in the trenches and provide support as a team player, and always take ultimate responsibility for failures.
You can have high expectations—and exceptional results—without running your company like a boot camp. Effective leaders inspire, encourage and set the bar high (for their team and themselves). So, what kind of boss are you?
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
When you work in a business for long enough it's easy to spot when something is done well and when it's not. Then there are those times when there's nothing left to do but to rip it out and start over. I was reminded of this four days ago when a business owner came to me with a federal payroll tax liability, a state tax liability and a city tax.
Usually just one of those taxes is enough to get someone to seek professional help but he decided to do it himself. Now I don't blame him, I've done it myself, my most recent mistake was to help my mom out by replacing her leaky faucet; how tough could it be? To make a long story short, the faucet I installed leaked into the condo below and caused some costly damage. Plus, I had to hear about it from my mom, my wife and my sister, not a good choice on my part. However, if you're a guy either you've made this mistake or you are going to make this mistake someday and there is nothing anyone can say to change that. Hopefully this email can stop you from making this mistake fixing your tax debt on your own. Because the cost to you can be much greater than the plaster and paint I had to pay for, it can cost you your business and years of happiness.
If you are dealing with tax debt, how you address it will make a big difference in how much you pay; and deciding on whether to address the city, state or federal taxes makes a big difference. For example a shop here in Boulder was shut down by the state over a $12,000 debt; this didn't have to happen.
The IRS manual is a 17,000 page instruction manual, the instruction on how to fix the faucet was about 5 pages, don't do this alone give us a call and let's discuss your case.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
1-877-415-9100, ext. 1458
Christopher (Kip) Sharp, Esq.
Owner and Lead Attorney
Tax Resolution Center, Inc.
Monday, May 18, 2015
The Federal Trade Commission is warning small businesses that an email with a subject line “NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT” is not from the FTC. The email falsely states that a complaint has been filed with the agency against their company. The FTC advises recipients not to click on any of the links or attachments with the email. Clicking on the links may install a virus or other spyware on the computer.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Are you one of the last holdouts who believes the myth that social media isn’t right for your business? You think your customers aren’t there, or you’re too busy or your industry isn’t a good fit for social media. Well, think again. Using social for your business isn’t about you, it’s about your customers.
· Your customers are there. Did you know that more than 50 percent of U.S. adults now use two or more social media platforms, and a whopping 71 percent of all U.S. Internet users are on Facebook?
· You need to meet expectations, so make time. Without a social media presence, you’re not meeting your customer’s expectations. In fact, they’re looking for you on social. And, if you don’t show up, it’s like ignoring a ringing phone.
· All industries are a good fit. Social media can help grow your business, no matter what industry you’re in—but not every platform is right for every industry. Find out exactly where your customers are engaging online and reach out to them there.
An active social media presence allows you to communicate directly with your customers on their terms. And when you do, they’ll ‘like’ you all the more for it.
Maybe it’s a suspicious tax document flagged by your HR staff or a customer concern about an unauthorized charge. Identity theft can reveal itself in many ways. Regardless of the tip-off, there’s a new one-stop federal resource – IdentityTheft.gov – to help people report and recover from ID theft.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Running a small business can be daunting. Work and life often become so intertwined that the idea of balance seems more like a fairytale than something achievable. And there’s that gnawing fear of failure causing sleepless nights, leading to exhaustion, anxiety and depression—and soon the cyclical loop of frustration and panic becomes so normal you forget you’re even in it.
Small businesses generally don’t have the luxury of helplines and insurance to cover many mental health situations, but there are some basics to help keep you on track:
- Rest: Don’t underestimate the value of a full night’s sleep for your overall health.
- Eat: Try not to skip meals, eat healthy and go to lunch outside the office.
- Exercise and take breaks: Stretch, use a standing desk, hit the gym, walk the dog—just move away from the computer (and put your phone down).
- Prioritize and delegate: You are not a machine and some things can wait—or not be done by you at all.
- Talk: Don’t go it alone, there’s no need to be a hero. If you need advice, or just want to bend someone’s ear, find a mentor, call a friend or see a counselor.
Small business owners tend to work in isolation and have a tough time stopping long enough to recognize that they may need some help. Don’t ignore warning signs that could damage more than just your business.
The pendulum seems to swing back and forth quite a bit in regard to Facebook and their relationship with small business owners. Is it helpful? Is it worth your time? What is really going on with that algorithm? Well, Facebook recently announced that they’re kicking off Boost Your Business, a campaign to help small business owners understand and incorporate useful Facebook tips and tricks to help with their social media marketing.
Facebook hits the road this summer to host small business meet-ups in cities across the U.S., and with over 40 million small business pages on their site, why shouldn’t they help out? However, if you’re unable to make it to one of their stops, here are some ways to get the most out of your Facebook business page:
· Request a personalized Web address (www.facebook.com/yoursmallbusiness), and promote it across your other marketing platforms.
· Utilize Facebook’s admin page to create and track marketing campaigns to discover what works and what doesn’t.
· Use Facebook’s Graph Search to find like-minded people and target your marketing (and snoop on competitors).
· Add a Facebook ‘like’ button wherever you can.
And, as always, engage with your audience, produce valuable (sharable) content and create a social presence that your customers will want to share, ‘like’ and talk about.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Will your business ever face a crisis situation needing careful and strategic communication? Quite possibly. (You can’t control everything.) And the degree of the fallout will largely depend on your timely and clear response—and a precise execution.
A good example is the recent Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream listeria situation, which has received national media attention. Unfortunate? Of course. How it’s being handled? Excellent. The company took immediate action and controlled the story. While the details were most likely worked out as the situation unfolded, the response showcased a steady calm only planning can produce.
Questions to ask when developing your crisis communication plan:
· What are the risks? Anticipate scenarios and work through the best course of action and key messages.
· What are the tough questions you might be asked? For each scenario, develop foundational messaging to avoid scrambling under pressure.
· What’s the plan? Establish clear protocol for both internal and external communication. (This includes prepping key players.)
· Who are your main audiences? Be mindful of your complete network, so no partners (including customers, third-party contractors, distributors and suppliers) are accidently neglected.
Remember, no amount of planning can take the place of an open and honest approach based on the facts in play—full transparency in a crisis is always the best policy.
Are you looking to access extra financing for your business? This wizard from BusinessUSA.gov will guide you through the steps to access financing options for categories such as:
- Starting a new business
- Expanding your current business
- Exporting products and services
- Encouraging “green” practices within your small business
- Recovering from a natural disaster
- Training programs to learn more about starting and/or expanding your business.
Click Here: http://business.usa.gov/access-financing#
As a business owner, it is vital that you understand and use advanced technologies. Technology can help increase business efficiency and even expand operations.
Accounting software. This is important, even if you have your own accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance. It can also help you design and maintain a budget for your business.
Planning software or tools. A calendar system is a must. There are many online planning systems that can be utilized to help you keep your calendar organized. Find a system that meets your business' needs and be sure to stick with it.
Time tracking software. A time tracking device will help you determine what tasks result in a profit and what tasks do not. This will help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or improved. If you’re looking at software that requires a fee, ask for a free trial first to make sure it’s the right software for you.
Email management. As a business owner, you probably use several email accounts to manage the various aspects of your company. If you streamline these emails to one account, you'll be able to stay organized and abreast of your emails.
Mobile internet access. Access to the internet on your mobile device will not only make your life easier, it will also help you maintain a positive reputation for your business. For example, if you are able to follow up with a client by email immediately after a meeting, you will be showing that you are accessible, timely and professional.
Once you decide which types of technology are right for you and your business, you'll be on your way to being more organized and efficient than ever.
No matter what your industry—or how long you’ve been working in and at it—there will always be new ways to innovate and solve problems. It’s easy for small business leaders to get stuck in a rut and think of innovation as something that happens only in Silicon Valley or in mega companies with monster budgets. Not true. Small companies drive innovation—even in mature industries.
The key? Find something people want. And then find a way to give it to them. How?
· Start with asking the right questions. Don’t ask why. Ask, why not? Ask, what if? Those who drive innovation and change spend a lot of time in the process of discovery.
· Get out and observe—watch your customers and talk to them.
· Have some new conversations, with unfamiliar people. What are they inspired by? What are they doing?
· Network outside of your industry. What are they saying about the future and how you can you apply it to your industry.
· Create a culture of innovation within your business. Reward and encourage ideation in your staff.
· Innovate yourself. Reacquaint yourself with your inner entrepreneur. What motivated you to start your current company in the first place?
To grow, innovate or change, the only way out of the rut is to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
You can, and should do this. What are we talking about? A loyalty program. Business owners want customers. But, often, they’re too focused on finding new customers, which can be one of the hardest—and most costly—aspects of running a business. Show your gratitude to current customers with offerings, discounts and rewards, and they’ll happily return again and again, all while spreading the word about your business and growing your customer base.
· Cost effective: Merchant Warehouse says business owners spend six to seven times more money to acquire new customers than to retain old ones (who also happen to spend more).
· Repeat customers: Offering points can increase repeat shoppers annual visits by up to 20 percent.
· Now decide what system works best. Popular options include:
· Point-based: Set the amount of points customers earn based on how much they spend. Once they hit a targeted amount, reward them with discounts or freebies.
· Rewards for paying upfront: Small business owners can offer regular customers an incentive to pay ahead. (Psst … this helps with cash flow management.)
Lastly, invest in automating your loyalty program—it provides additional opportunities to make changes and offers on the fly, helps maintain clean tracking and encourages more meaningful communications based on purchasing history.
Monday, May 4, 2015
The more you know, the better decisions you can make—this is critical for small businesses. Using your company’s strengths and weaknesses to evaluate opportunities and threats (otherwise known as a SWOT analysis) paves the way for true strategic decision making.
We know. It sounds boring and complicated. It’s neither. A SWOT analysis acts very much like a health check-up that diagnoses the internal and external positive and negative factors affecting your company. The process can be as formal or informal as you like, but the key is to take an honest approach (and it might hurt a little) and include all aspects of your business.
A quick online search will provide hundreds of examples and approaches, but keep the following things in mind:
· You may not be the nonbiased lead this process needs; consider a manager, a trusted non-company representative or a paid outside facilitator.
· Involve all employees. Start with a company brainstorm to go through strengths (e.g., cash flow, employees or location) and weaknesses (e.g., mediocre online presence, languishing customer base or lack of capital)—be sure to empower an open and honest discussion. Otherwise, what’s the point?
· This isn’t a one-time deal. Plan to revisit on a regular basis to account for internal and external changes.
Awareness is great, but it won’t do you any good without action. Complement each SWOT analysis with a comprehensive action plan that lays out how to exploit your company’s strengths and curtail weaknesses.
IRS recognizes Small Business Week May 4 – 8, 2015, by highlighting some of its most popular educational products, videos and webinars to help your small business thrive. A good example is the webinar: “Tax Related Guidance for Child Care Providers.” The online resource can help you as a business owner or operator learn how to correctly report common tax items associated with this type of business. Here are some of the topics included in the webinar:
Child Care Income. The presentation covers the various income items that you must report. These include items such as:
- Income from contracts specifying charges, terms and responsibilities.
- Diaper charges.
- Late pick up or early drop off fees.
- Registration fees.
Child Care Expenses. The webinar discusses allowable business expenses, including:
- The business must be a for-profit activity.
- The expense must be ordinary and necessary.
- Only the business use portion of an expense may be deductible if the expense has elements of both personal and business use.
- You must make a reasonable allocation to determine the business use.
- Amounts you spend for personal or family reasons are not deductible.
Special Rules. The tax law contains specific rules in areas where business expenses are difficult to separate from personal expenses. For example, the webinar covers the special method you would use to compute the business use percentage of a home available only for day care service providers.
Other Expenses. Other expenses common to child care businesses are discussed, including:
- Food consumed by your daycare recipients.
- Supplies such as games, books, child proofing devices and toys.
Other topics include the USDA Food Reimbursement Program, depreciation rules and much more. Check out this and other IRS webinars and videos to celebrate Small business Week 2015 at www.irsvideos.gov.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Small businesses get a lot of attention these days—and why shouldn’t they? They’re the backbone of our economy and create two out of three new jobs. Let’s hear it for small businesses! Since 1963, the U.S. has celebrated this entrepreneurial bunch with National Small Business Week (May 4 – 8). What are your plans?
· Live stream events hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) or tune into webinars covering diverse business topics to up your small business knowledge.
· Find out what’s going on locally with your chamber of commerce and other organizations, and get involved.
· Bring attention to the week—and the importance of local support—in your advertising and social media.
· Thank your customers and offer discounts and specials that run the whole week.
· Have an open house to engage existing customers. Encourage them to bring friends.
· Partner with your local library to conduct a program or act as a subject matter expert.
Regardless how you decide to take advantage of the extra national (and, hopefully, local) attention about the importance of small businesses, give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back and celebrate well. You’ve earned it.