It’s Small Business Week! Resources for Small Business Owners

The U.S. Small Business Administration is celebrating National Small Business Week this week.

Small Business Week from Carpenter, Evert and Associates

Image from Small Business Administration www.sba.org

The SBA is an independent agency of the federal government. Their mission is to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.” In short, they are a valuable resource for all small businesses, whether you are just starting out or have an established, successful business.

A few of the resources available at www.sba.gov available year-round include:

To celebrate Small Business Week, the SBA is offering a series of free webinars this week:

5 Fabulous Habits of Local Business Champions
Presented by YP
May 3, 2017 | 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Register here

Grow Your Business Online
Presented by Google
May 3, 2017 | 4:00-5:00 pm ET
Register here

The Future of Small Business Innovation
Presented by Salesforce
May 4, 2017 | 2:30-3:30 pm ET
Register here

How to Write Your Email Content in 15 Minutes or Less
Presented by Constant Contact
May 4, 2017 | 3:30-4:30 pm ET
Register here

Find the Hidden Money in America
Presented by Chase
May 4, 2017 | 5:00-6:00 pm ET
Register here

Carpenter, Evert and Associates specializes in services for small businesses, including outsourced accounting, tax planning and preparation, and a wide range of consulting services. Contact us here or at (952) 831-0085 for a free consultation.

Record Retention for Businesses – Don’t Get Buried!

Organizing - paper stacksGuidelines for Business Record Retention

As your business grows, it is hard to keep track of all the paperwork that comes with owning a business.

Having a record retention schedule for document storage can save a lot of space and headaches. Carpenter, Evert and Associates has compiled a comprehensive list of business documents and guidelines on how long to store the documents.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and there could be exceptions to the record retention guidelines based on your particular circumstances. Consult with your Carpenter, Evert and Associates accounting expert with any questions.

Click here for a printable copy of our Business Record Retention Schedule.

Record Retention Guide

Small Business Week – Helpful Resources for Entrepreneurs

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It’s National Small Business Week!

Sponsored by the Small Business Administration, this week celebrates the American entrepreneurial spirit with events throughout the country and access to vital information that every small business owner needs.

Whether you’re starting a new business or managing an existing one, you need as many resources as possible to help you navigate. Here, we have compiled some of the top places to go when you have questions. These resources will be there for you year-round, providing the most up-to-date answers for your business.SB 3

Small Business Administration at www.sba.gov

The Small Business Administration was founded in 1953 to assist small businesses in getting a fair shot at government contracts. Later they began providing loans to entrepreneurs who would have otherwise been unable to get funding through conventional means.

Today, the SBA has expanded their services significantly to encourage small businesses in many areas: management assistance; specialized outreach to women, minorities and armed forces veterans; providing loans to victims of natural disasters; and specialized advice and assistance in international trade.

One of the best services the SBA offers is their Online Learning Center. They offer dozens of free courses on a wide variety of topics, like:

  • Buying a business
  • Getting a loan
  • Sales and marketing
  • Customer service
  • Cybersecurity

and much more. They also have great articles and videos on virtually every part of running a small business, from choosing your business structure to paying taxes. And if you register online, you will have access to tools that can help you manage tasks like writing your business plan and qualifying for government contracts.SB 4

The Online IRS Small Business Tax Center

Unlike the complicated instructions that often come with tax forms, the information on the IRS Small Business Tax Center site is easy to understand, informative, and covers a wide variety of topics helpful to small business owners. Some of the topics covered:

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Carpenter, Evert and Associates Online Library

CEA’s website is full of great information for entrepreneurs. We have hundreds of informative articles and offer advice on a variety of small business issues. Here are just a few:

If your small business needs help today, contact the small business experts at Carpenter, Evert and Associates. We have accounting, tax and advisory services that can help you build your best company.

Call us at (952) 831-0085 or Click Here to request more information or a free consultation.

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Tax and Accounting News for Small Businesses

WP - News - computersA Dozen Deductions for Your Small Business

By Dana Dratch at Bankrate.com

Small-business tax rule No. 1: Don’t mess with the IRS. But that doesn’t mean you should cheat yourself. Take every legal deduction you can. Here are a dozen that even savvy small-business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes forget.?>>> Read More

5 Tasks Entrepreneurs Are Better Off Outsourcing

By Jacqueline Whitmore, Entrepreneur.com

Being an entrepreneur means theres always more work to do, and not enough time to do it. Thats why the most successful business owners delegate certain tasks to freelance contractors who specialize in providing valuable time-saving services. >>> Read More

5 Questions for Your Small Biz Before Summer’s End

By Melinda Emerson, Huff Post

For many small businesses, summer is slower than the rest of the year. Rather than getting caught up in another game of Words with Friends, use these fleeting long days to take a look at your business operations. >>> Read More

10 Best Cities for Small Businesses

From CNN Money Online

A review of the top ten cities for small ?businesses from thumbtack.coms fourth annual ranking. >>> Read More

Small Business Owners – What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

People - man tired disgusted hands faceEmployees, cash flow, rules and regulations, taxes, competition, burnout. The list of concerns for a small business owner can seem endless.

Carpenter, Evert and Associates is gathering data about these concerns so we can give you the information you really need. Click on the link below to give us your opinions on the biggest concerns that small business owners have today.

Participants will receive a free GUIDE TO SMALL BUSINESS RECORD KEEPING from Carpenter Evert and the American Institute of CPAs.

The survey will only take 1-2 minutes, and we will send your free guide out right away. Thanks for the input!

Click here for the Small Business Survey by Survey MonkeyCheck list - black and white red

Free Webinar “Business Tax Basics for the Self-Employed”

Whether you are just starting a business or have owned a small business for awhile, it’s smart to know the ins and outs of your taxes. Even if you have an accountant like Carpenter Evert do your taxes, it’s good to know the basics – how your taxes are calculated, what business expenses are legit, and how to handle estimated taxes.

The IRS is offering a free webinar, “Business Taxes for the Self-Employed: The Basics”, with details outlined in the following press release. And don’t hesitate to contact Carpenter, Evert and Associates for more in-depth information about your small business needs – taxes, monthly accounting, business consulting and more.

Contact us (952) 831-0085 or info@carpenterevert.com.

Tax - Form 1040 1065 1120Webinar for Small Business to Focus on Tax Basics for the Self-Employed

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will hold a free webinar this week designed to provide basic tax information to new entrepreneurs as well as owners of existing small businesses.

The webinar, titled Business Taxes for the Self-Employed: The Basics, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 26 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time.  Topics include reporting profit or loss from a small business or profession on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ, businesses owned by married couples, deducting business expenses and self-employment and quarterly estimated tax payments.

To register or access archived versions of past webinars, visit the Webinars for Small Businesses page on IRS.gov. Topics of popular recent webinars have included tip income reporting, the home office deduction and how to work effectively with a paid tax preparer.

25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act: Four Important Tax Benefits

shutterstock_213119035This week is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the IRS is marking the occasion by spotlighting a number of tax benefits that can help taxpayers with disabilities and their employers.

1. ABLE Accounts. This new program was passed by Congress in December. Under the law, states can offer specially designed, tax-favored Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts to people with disabilities who became disabled before age 26. Recognizing the special financial burdens faced by families raising children with disabilities, ABLE accounts are designed to enable people with disabilities and their families to save for and pay for disability-related expenses.

All states can offer the option of setting up one of these ABLE accounts. Contributions totaling up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount (currently $14,000) can be made to an ABLE account each year, and distributions are tax-free if used to pay qualified disability expenses.

More on ABLE accounts from the IRS

2. Tax Credits. Low-and moderate-income workers and working families often qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS estimates that as many as 1.5 million people miss out on it each year because they fail to file a federal income tax return.

But there’s still time – generally, you can still file a return claiming the credit for tax year 2012, 2013 or 2014. You can see if you qualify by visiting IRS.gov and answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant.

The credit for child and dependent care expenses can help working taxpayers by paying the cost of caring for a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.

More on Child and Dependent Care Expenses from the IRS

3. Deductions. Taxpayers with disabilities can deduct various impairment-related work expenses on their federal income tax return. In addition, some unreimbursed disability-related expenses qualify as deductible medical expenses. Eligible expenses include:

  • Artificial limbs, contact lenses, eyeglasses and hearing aids
  • Special telephone equipment for people who are hearing impaired
  • Wheelchair or motorized cart
  • Guide dog or service animal
  • Premiums for qualified long-term care insurance
  • Braille books and magazines (the portion over the price of regular printed editions)
  • Tuition for schools that furnish special education as a principal service
  • Improvements to a home if the main purpose is for medical care, such as entrance ramps
  • Business deduction for expenses that are necessary for you to be able to work

4. If You Own a Business. If you own or operate a business, you should be aware of the following tax incentives for businesses to help employees and customers with disabilities:

  • Deduction for costs of removing barriers to the disabled and the elderly—a deduction for making a facility or public transportation vehicle more accessible and usable by people who are disabled or elderly.
  • Disabled access credit—a tax credit for small businesses that pay expenses to provide access to people with disabilities. The expenses must enable the business to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. See Form 8826, Disabled Access Credit.
  • Work opportunity credit—provides businesses with an incentive to hire individuals from targeted groups that have a particularly high unemployment rate or other special employment needs. One targeted group consists of vocational rehabilitation referrals. These are individuals who have a physical or mental disability that results in a substantial handicap to employment. See Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit.

Tax Help

Go to the IRS publication Living and Working with Disabilities for an overview of what tax benefits are available and how to apply them to your taxes.

Contact a tax expert at Carpenter, Evert and Associates, (952) 831-0085, for more information about how to get the most out of your tax deductions and credits.

IRS offers relief to small businesses that haven’t filed their retirement plan returns.

WP - Retirement plan - close up with pen

News from the IRS this week:

WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged eligible small businesses that did not file certain retirement plan returns to take advantage of a low-cost penalty relief program enabling them to quickly come back into compliance.

The program is designed to help small businesses that may have been unaware of the reporting requirements that apply to their retirement plans.

Small businesses that fail to file required annual retirement plan returns, usually Form 5500-EZ, can face stiff penalties – up to $15,000 per return. However, by filing late returns under this program, eligible filers can avoid these penalties by paying only $500 for each return submitted, up to a maximum of $1,500 per plan. For that reason, program applicants are encouraged to include multiple late returns in a single submission.

The Department of Labor offers a similar relief program for businesses with retirement plans that include employees, known as the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.

Started as a one-year pilot, the IRS program was made permanent in May 2015. The IRS has received about 12,000 late returns since the pilot program began in June 2014.

The IRS reminds retirement plan sponsors and administrators that in most cases, a return must be filed each year for the plan by the end of the seventh month following the close of the plan year. For plans that operate on a calendar-year basis, as most do, this means the 2014 return is due on July 31, 2015.

If you need assistance becoming compliant or completing your Form 5500, contact the retirement plan tax experts at Carpenter, Evert and Associates

The Affordable Care Act – How to Account for Seasonal Workers

People - construction workers

When determining if your organization is an applicable large employer, you must measure your workforce by counting all your employees.  However, there is an exception for seasonal workers.

If an employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that period of no more than 120 days were seasonal workers, the employer is not considered an applicable large employer.

A seasonal worker for this purpose is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis. For example, retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons are seasonal workers.

The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions, but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.  For this purpose, employers may apply a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the term seasonal worker.

To learn more about this topic and about when the definition of a seasonal employee is applicable, see the IRS website Q & A page. Or contact an ACA expert at Carpenter Evert for more information.

How many full-time employees do you really have?

Jumbled numbers greenThe Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act are based on the number of employees a business has. A business with over 50 full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees has certain responsibilities to provide group health insurance or make shared responsibility payments.

Read more about the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions

It’s pretty easy for most companies to determine how many full-time employees they have – if you have 10 total employees, you can be pretty sure your company is not an applicable large employee (ALE). If you have 250, you can be pretty sure you are an ALE.  But, if you have close to 50 full-time employees, or have a significant number of part-time employees, it might not be so simple. Here is how the IRS explains it:

Whether an employer is an applicable large employee (ALE) is determined each calendar year, and generally depends on the average size of an employer’s workforce during the prior year.  If an employer has fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is not an ALE for the current calendar year and is not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions or the reporting provisions for the current year. Employers who are not ALEs may also be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

If an employer has at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is an ALE for the current calendar year, and is therefore subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions and the employer information reporting provisions.

To determine its workforce size for a year an employer adds its total number of full-time employees for each month of the prior calendar year to the total number of full-time equivalent employees for each calendar month of the prior calendar year and divides that total number by 12.

Full-Time Employees – full-time employee is an employee who has on average at least 30 hours of service per week during the calendar month, or at least 130 hours of service during the calendar month.

Full-Time Equivalent Employees – An employer determines its number of full-time-equivalent employees in two steps:

  1. Combine the number of hours of service of all non-full-time employees for the month but do not include more than 120 hours of service per employee, and
  2. Divide the total by 120.

An employer’s number of full-time equivalent employees (or part-time employees) is only relevant to determining whether an employer is an ALE.  An ALE need not offer minimum essential coverage to its part-time employees to avoid an employer shared responsibility payment. 

There are exceptions for seasonal workers and new businesses. More information can be found at the IRS website’s Q & A on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions.

Still confused? Your CPA can be a good resource for help navigating the Affordable Care Act. Contact one of Carpenter Evert’s ACA experts at (952) 831-0085 or info@carpenterevert.com.