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When you file your 2018 income tax return, you’ll likely find that some big tax law changes affect you — besides the much-discussed tax rate cuts and reduced itemized deductions. For 2018 through 2025, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) makes significant changes to personal exemptions, standard deductions and the child credit. The degree […]

Signs of financial distress in a not-for-profit can be subtle. But board members have a responsibility to recognize them and do everything in their power to avert potential disaster. Pay particular attention to: 1. Budget bellwethers. Confirm that proposed budgets are in line with strategies already developed and approved. Once your board has signed off […]

To claim an itemized deduction for a donation of more than $250, generally you need a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charity. “Contemporaneous” means the earlier of 1) the date you file your income tax return, or 2) the extended due date of your return. If you made a donation in 2018 but haven’t received […]

If your wealth is tied up in a closely held business, lack of liquidity can create estate planning challenges. Selling your business shares to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) converts them into liquid assets. If the ESOP owns more than 30% of the company’s outstanding common stock immediately after the sale, you may be […]

Raffles are popular fundraisers for not-for-profits. But they’re subject to strict tax rules. State laws on nonprofit-sponsored raffles vary, but you must comply with federal income tax requirements. First, you may owe unrelated business income tax unless your fundraiser is “substantially” staffed by volunteers. Second, raffle winnings must be reported to the IRS when the […]

Forensic accountants are best qualified to unearth the “hows and whys” of occupational fraud. But it’s up to employers to know when it’s time to call for professional help in the first place. The signs of fraud can be easy to miss, but they’re usually there. Something doesn’t belong Dishonest employees may use anything from […]

Choosing the right executor (or “personal representative”) is critical to the smooth administration of an estate. Yet many people treat this decision as an afterthought. An executor’s duties may include taking inventory of the estate’s assets, filing the estate’s tax returns and paying its taxes, and handling creditors’ claims. A family member is a common […]

Americans support charities for a variety of financial, emotional and social reasons, and some of them aren’t so obvious. For example, wealthy donors may be motivated by not only tax and asset protection considerations, but also a desire to limit what they leave to their children to prevent a “burden of wealth.” Younger donors often […]

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduced individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025, some taxpayers could see their taxes go up due to reductions or eliminations of certain tax breaks — and, in some cases, due to their filing status. But some may see additional tax savings due to their filing […]

Not-for-profits that direct and benefit from volunteers can be held accountable if those individuals are harmed or harm others on the job. Your organization needs to take steps to limit this risk, including screening volunteer candidates. Positions that carry greater risks, such as work involving children and other vulnerable populations, or access to cash donations, […]

From invoices and payments to discounts and write-offs, many business transactions are recorded to accounts receivable. This makes receivables a popular fraud target. But your business doesn’t have to become a victim. Common schemes Receivables fraud occurs when dishonest employees divert customer payments for their personal use. They use various methods, including: Lapping. This is […]

Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, and many have gone up for 2019, giving you opportunities to increase your retirement savings: Elective deferrals to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans: $19,000 (up from $18,500) Contributions to defined contribution plans: $56,000 (up from $55,000) Contributions to SIMPLEs: $13,000 (up from $12,500) Contributions to IRAs: […]

Business owners engaged in fraudulent activities often try to manipulate their companies’ financial statements. Fortunately for fraud experts, business owners’ tax returns aren’t as easy to misrepresent. Certain items on an owner’s Form 1040 can reveal hidden assets and income sources, particularly lines reporting income from wages, tax-exempt interest income, retirement plan distributions and refunds. […]

Communication breakdowns between a not-for-profit’s development and accounting departments can lead to confusion, embarrassment and even financial problems. Here are three ways your organization can facilitate cooperation between these two critical functions. 1. Recognize differences Accounting and development typically record their financial information differently, which is why they can produce numbers that vary but nonetheless […]

The dawning of 2019 means the 2018 income tax filing season will soon be upon us. After year end, it’s generally too late to take action to reduce 2018 taxes. Business owners may, therefore, want to shift their focus to assessing whether they’ll likely owe taxes or get a refund when they file their returns […]

Are you harboring fictitious vendors in your accounting system? These are vendors invented by an employee — usually someone with the authority to approve invoices — to embezzle from the company. Thieves fabricate invoices and deposit payments to the fictitious vendor in their own bank accounts. This scam is easier to perpetrate in companies with […]

To err is human, but some errors are more consequential — and harder to fix — than others. Most not-for-profit organizations can’t afford to lose precious financial resources, so you need to do whatever possible to minimize accounting and tax mistakes. Get started by considering the following five questions: Have we formally documented our accounting […]

Gift cards offer businesses a convenient way to reward employees and thank customers. However, gift card scams targeting companies are popular and becoming more so. Since January 2017, losses have topped $1 million. In a typical scheme, fraudsters send employees “spoofed” emails asking them to buy multiple gift cards on behalf of a company executive. […]

Tax planning is a year-round activity, but there are still some year-end strategies you can use to lower your 2018 tax bill. Here are six last-minute tax moves business owners should consider: Postpone invoices. If your business uses the cash method of accounting, and it would benefit from deferring income to next year, wait until […]