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“Ghost” employees, or fictitious workers on the payroll, often go unnoticed where internal controls are insufficient. Small businesses are vulnerable because a single person may handle all payroll tasks and is thus in a position to invent an employee and deposit paychecks in a bank account opened in the ghost’s name. Fortunately, such schemes leave […]

When you think about recent tax law changes and your business, retirement benefits probably aren’t what first come to mind. But if your business sponsors a 401(k) plan, be aware of two changes: 1) Beginning in 2018, former employees with outstanding plan loan balances have until their tax return filing due date (plus extensions) to […]

Identity theft isn’t just a consumer problem. Criminals steal the identities of businesses, too. In addition to filing fraudulent tax returns, criminals assume the identities of companies to apply for credit, impersonate authorized users and empty bank accounts. Here are five ways you can reduce the chance it will happen to your business. 1. Protect […]

Your not-for-profit probably already provides donors with a receipt containing information about claiming charitable deductions. But your obligations may go further than that. Donors claiming charitable deductions for more than $500 in noncash gifts must file Form 8283. Organizations that receive noncash donations valued at more than $5,000 must sign the donor’s form and obtain […]

The centerpiece of your estate plan is a will or living trust. Such a document determines who gets what, where, when and how. Another document to consider including is a “letter of instructions” to your heirs. It has no legal authority but can provide valuable guidance to them. A letter of instructions is more than […]

If you’ve ever considered paying employees under the table, resist the temptation. Employers may justify this practice by citing lower tax and insurance costs, reduced bookkeeping time, and competitive advantages. But some owners found guilty have had to pay steep fines and serve prison time. If the IRS determines you haven’t withheld taxes, you can […]

A traditional trust can create a conflict between the lifetime and remainder beneficiaries. This can place your trustee in a difficult position. A total return unitrust (TRU) frees the trustee to employ investment strategies that maximize growth (total return) for the remainder beneficiaries without depriving lifetime beneficiaries of income. Rather than pay out its income […]

Employers generally have the right to perform workspace searches for occupational fraud, but they must approach them with care. Laws vary by state, but most allow you to search company-owned computers, desks, lockers and equipment if your company policy clearly states it can conduct such searches anytime and you have justifiable reasons for the search. […]

Life insurance can offer significant estate planning benefits even if estate tax isn’t a concern for your family. For example, you can use life insurance to replace wealth that’s lost to long term care (LTC) expenses for you or your spouse. Although LTC insurance is available, it can be expensive, especially if you’re already beyond […]

Revised federal procurement standards significantly alter the way not-for-profits handle purchasing. Now, purchases between $3,500 and $150,000 require price or rate quotes from several qualified sources. For purchases over $150,000, you must select vendors based on publicly solicited sealed bids or competitive proposals. Also, there are multiple documentation requirements. Designing a checklist that outlines decisions […]

The bookkeeper is one of any company’s most trusted employees. Unfortunately, that trust isn’t always deserved. Bookkeepers — particularly those in small and midsize businesses — are ideally positioned to embezzle from their employers. Less means more When bookkeepers go bad, there are plenty of ways for them to steal without alerting owners to irregularities. […]

At this time of year, a summer vacation is on many people’s minds. If you travel for business, combining a business trip with a vacation to offset some of the cost with a tax deduction can sound appealing. But tread carefully, or you might not be eligible for the deduction you’re expecting. General rules Business […]

In a world that’s increasingly paperless, you’re likely becoming accustomed to conducting a variety of transactions digitally. But when it comes to your last will and testament, only an original, signed document will do. A photocopy isn’t good enough Many people mistakenly believe that a photocopy of a signed will is sufficient. In fact, most […]

CrawfordEllenbogen enjoyed hosting a Special Intern on Take Your Child to Work Day.  Colton was a great worker and loved his new business cards, presented by Joan Ellenbogen.

If you received a large refund after filing your 2017 income tax return, you’re probably enjoying the influx of cash. But a large refund isn’t all positive. It also means you were essentially giving the government an interest-free loan. That’s why a large refund for the previous tax year would usually indicate that you should […]

Shell companies, which have no assets of their own, may be legitimate (for example, when they’re used to hold another company’s assets). But they also can be used by unscrupulous employees to perpetrate billing fraud. Such schemes can go undetected for a long time, particularly if the fraudsters cover their tracks. Most perpetrators, however, leave […]

Now that small businesses and their owners have filed their 2017 income tax returns (or filed for an extension), it’s a good time to review some of the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that may significantly impact their taxes for 2018 and beyond. Generally, the changes apply to tax years beginning […]

Most people are happy to receive an inheritance, in part because it typically is tax-free to the recipient, But heirs generally must pay income tax on property that’s considered income in respect of a decedent (IRD). IRD is income that the deceased was entitled to, but hadn’t yet received, at the time of death. It’s […]

When a donor promises to make a contribution at a later date, your not-for-profit likely welcomes it. But such pledges can come with complicated accounting issues. Conditional vs. unconditional Let’s say a donor makes a pledge in April 2018 to contribute $10,000 in January 2019. You generally will create a pledge receivable and recognize the […]

Today, it’s not unusual for a family to include children from prior marriages. These so-called “blended” families can create estate planning complications that may lead to challenges in the courts after your death. One tool that can help avoid such conflicts is a marital trust. It can be customized to meet the needs of a […]

You may have breathed a sigh of relief after filing your 2017 income tax return (or requesting an extension). But if your office is strewn with reams of paper consisting of years’ worth of tax returns, receipts, canceled checks and other financial records (or your computer desktop is filled with a multitude of digital tax-related […]

Identity thieves don’t rely on just real identities to commit fraud. With “synthetic” identity theft, they use only a portion of your personal data to help them create fictitious identities. But that doesn’t necessarily lessen the negative impact on your credit. Forensic experts estimate that synthetic identity theft is actually more prevalent than so-called “true-name” […]