The Tax Deadline Has Come and Gone – Are You Happy?

With April 18th in your rear view mirror it is time to review how your tax preparation went.  Was it a painless process for you?  Did you have constant communication with your accountant?  If you did, you should thank your accountant and start planning for next year!  If not, maybe it is time to start thinking about a change.  Over the years we (as a Firm) have noticed clients switching to CPA Firms of our size over the traditional sole practitioner.  While you may enjoy a personal relationship or believe that it would be inconvenient to make a change to a full service CPA Firm – think again….

When you make a switch to a public accounting firm, you gain resources, a team of CPAs with more robust professional backgrounds, and a one-stop shop for all your personal and business financial needs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a full suite of services at your fingertips – other then just tax preparation? What happens if you want to outsource your accounting, or maybe buy or sell a business?    A CPA Firm handles the “here and now” AND “the here and far from now” process. With an overarching look into your personal or business situation a good CPA Firm can do so much more for you then you ever imagined.  Here’s a look into how they do it:

The Secret Behind A CPA Firm’s Success

A (good) CPA firm functions as a part of your leadership team.  That’s it – that’s the secret.  Before your anticipation dies down, allow us to ellaborate on that.

They Care About You

When you invest in a CPA Firm, they recognize the engagement as a relationship, not a contact.  CPA’s bind themselves to your business, taking a true interest in your financial past, and expressing genuine desire to improve your financial future.

Why is a passionate CPA so important to your financial future?  Because without a genuine desire to grow, your accounting department is simply going through the motions, paying no mind to long-term effects or future goal fulfillment – that doesn’t exactly increase your bottom line.

They Plan With You

Your current financial team always seems too busy with other tasks to focus on the future.  You want daily deadlines to be met, but you also want to plan for next week, next month, and next year. You know how important planning is, but your team doesn’t seem to view it with the same urgency.

Whether it’s because they lack the time, or they’re just too focused on tasks at hand, your team’s priorities are out of place in your opinion. You need a firm that takes the time (any time and every time) to consult with you, give you valuable feedback, or simply provide financial reassurance. A CPA firm sees past daily duties, making your future their main priority and taking the time to plan for a prosperous one.

They Seek Success For You

A CPA firm is going to share your goals, as well as your motivation for reaching them. Even after your organization has reached its financial goals, your CPA keeps at it – they want to see your success accumulate and reach a firm, unwavering stability. A CPA creates opportunities that lead to constant financial growth and a robust bottom line.

Your current accounting department might be deemed your financial team, but do they really function as your teammates? Are they as invested in your financial future as you are? If not, it’s time to start thinking about investing in a real team – one that cares about you, functions with you, and helps you secure a steady and successful financial future.

Ready to get proactive and reach beyond standard tax preparation?  Click below to learn how a CPA firm can provide insight beyond taxes.

Estate Planning For The Wealthy and Not-So-Wealthy

Estate planning is important for both the wealthy and not-so-wealthy.  Even if your estate is not large enough to require payment of estate taxes at your death (for 2017, the estate tax lifetime exemption amount is $5,490,000), having the proper documents in place at your death can minimize the burden placed on your loved ones.  Consider the following items when devising an estate plan:

Create A Will

This is an important first step in the estate planning process.  Wills help you make sure your wishes are carried out with respect to distribution of property, and if you have minor children, a will can be used to designate a guardian or guardians.

Avoid Probate

Documents can be put into place that will eliminate the need for the costly and time-consuming probate process.  In preparing an estate plan, all assets should be examined to determine the best way to title the property so the assets will be distributed according to your wishes and to minimize the expense of the final distribution of your assets.

Where To Start

Your attorney and wealth management advisors (brokers, bankers, CPA, etc) can assist you in the estate planning process to ensure you have a plan in place that is optimal for you.

Whether you need to devise a new estate plan or update an existing plan, having the proper documents in place is the key to providing peace of mind for you and your family. Contact us today to learn more!

Register Now: Greensboro Workshop For Trucking & Logistic Companies

Summary of Workshop:

This workshop will explore areas of risk for business executives and owners which will include interactive discussions about the challenges facing the trucking industry.  This session will create an awareness of Risk Management that should encourage every executive to assess their own business.

Objectives:

At the completion of this session, you will be able to:

  1. Identify risks
  2. Quantify the risks
  3. Mitigate the risks
  4. Evaluate your businesses on a regular basis
  5. Establish a good controls environment
  6. Identify business process and improvement opportunities
  7. Plan your exit strategy

Who Should Attend: Presidents, Owners, and Business Executives

Cost:  $75.00 for NCTA Members and $125.00 for Non-Members  

When:  May 24, 2017

Time: 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Location: SelecTrucks of Greensboro, 6383 Burnt Poplar Rd, Greensboro, NC 27409

Speaker: 

Dave Recchion is a Principal and leader in the Greensboro office of LBA Haynes Strand. Dave is a client serving Principal and heads up our firm’s Risk Advisory and Internal Audit practice where he is able to leverage extensive industry knowledge, relationship skills, and experience in risk based consulting within Fortune 500 environments. Dave brings 30 years of professional experience to our Firm, including 13 years with Ernst & Young where he served as Global Coordinating Services Partner. Most recently, Dave founded a highly profitable Risk Management Firm in High Point, NC known as SeeRisk Management Advisors, LLC for the past 4 years

Register Now!

So You Want to Franchise Your Business?

Business owners looking for creative ways to grow and expand sometimes turn to franchising in order to accomplish their goals. Franchising occurs when the original owner of a business sells territorial rights to run independently-owned versions of the existing business. The independent business owners are franchisees. While the concept is not for everybody, there are certainly advantages to this business model.

Best practices to consider prior to franchising your business include the following:
Answering the Following Questions

Is my business even franchise-able? This is very important as not every business is. Is there even a need for my business concept in other geographic locations? Is my business model easily teachable to potential franchisees? Am I comfortable in making the transition from owner-operator to franchisor?

Consult a Franchise Attorney

The sale of franchises can be a legally complex process at both the federal and state levels. The laws are often not uniform and can vary from state to state. Prior to selling any franchises, a franchisor must file a franchise disclosure document (FDD) with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FDD is discloses extensive information about the franchisor and is intended to provide the potential franchisee with information needed to make an informed decision. A franchise attorney will be a valued resource in your franchising journey. They will assist in the preparation and filing of the FDD.

Consult a Certified Public Accountant

With limited exceptions, a business looking to franchise will need to include financial statements that have been audited by an independent CPA. Audited financial statements are required to be included within the FDD prior to filing, with the failure to do so leading to costly delays and fines. Like a franchise attorney, a CPA will be a great resource as you begin your franchising process. Along with performing the required audit necessary for filing of the FDD, a CPA can also discuss the various tax benefits of the franchising concept and can serve as a trusted advisor on a range of topics including tax planning, business valuation and M&A strategies.

Now that you know the resources available to you, it’s time to begin your journey of growing your business via franchising. Contact us to learn more and to speak to a certified public accountant at LBA Haynes Strand!

Tips To Proactively Avoid Fraud and Embezzlement in a HOA

Fraud and embezzlement are words that can really cause an Association a lot of wasted time, money and energy.  So how can the Board of Directors get out in front of any potential fraud or embezzlement?  This is really simple and easy, but is almost always overlooked.  The Board needs to understand their role in fraud prevention and the top two components to fraud: motivation and opportunity.  In almost all cases, it will take both of these factors for fraud to occur.  Motivation is a factor completely outside of the Board’s control, but that cannot be said about the opportunity factor.

To reduce or eliminate the opportunity factor, establishing simple monitoring tasks by the Board are critical, extremely simple and highly effective.  First, review and control those key individuals that have banking authority.  When there are transitions on the board or with a management company then the individuals with banking authority need to be reviewed immediately and updated. Ensure this is reviewed and monitored by the Board Treasurer and then approved by the entire board. Next, establish an approved vendor list.  Payments made to vendors that don’t exist or consultants with no credentials are very common with Associations.  The Board should periodically review the disbursements ledger (check register) and look for payments to vendors that are not on the approved vendor list.

In addition, there are a number of control measures the board should do on a regular basis to reduce the risk of fraud or embezzlement.  These can include the following:

  • Review and approve the bank statements and bank reconciliations. Establish a due date to ensure the bank reconciliations are completed timely and reviewed timely.  Typically 15 days from the close of the previous month is a best practice.
  • Review actual results versus budgeted amounts and inquire of all variances.  Avoid only focusing on variances where the actual amounts exceed the approved budgeted amounts.  Variances significantly below approved budgeted amounts can be a myriad of issues.  Remember, the devil is the details. 
  • Discuss with your management company the safeguards they have over cash receipts.  The board should have a very good understanding of how much cash is received and what activities are leading to the generation of members paying in cash. 
  • Make sure your management company is utilizing a lockbox system for assessment collections.  Encourage all of your members to pay directly to the lockbox.  This will cut down on cash receipts. 
  • Review, review, review and review the monthly financial package.  This information is key and the boards timely review is critical to the identification of any potential issues that could be caused by fraud or embezzlement.  Make sure the financial package is completed timely as well.  Establish a due date with your management company.  This should be a date that is reasonable and agreed upon.

These steps, or suggestions, tailored to fit your association can help reduce or even possibly eliminate the opportunity for fraud and/embezzlement.  Fraud will happen at the most unexpected time, make sure your Board is taking the necessary precautions to protect the financial health and stability of your Association.  To learn more click the button below to speak with a Certified Public Accountant at LBA Haynes Strand.

Here We Grow Again! LBA Haynes Strand Adds Charlotte based CPA Firm McArthur, McKeiver, & Vaughan, PLLC to The Firm

The 2017 year is here and LBA Haynes Strand has rang the proverbial growth bell again!  For the past 4 months, LBA Haynes Strand has been working to complete a deal with, Ballantyne based CPA Firm, McArthur, McKeiver and Vaughan, PLLC to unite as one combined firm.  The combination will add three Principals to the LBA Haynes Strand team with the additions of Brad McKeiver, Steve Vaughan, and Patrick Coleman.   This will increase the total of Principals to 13 and number of employees to 80 across the three North Carolina offices of the Firm.  The Firm will continue to operate under the LBA Haynes Strand, PLLC name, where the three incoming principals and the incoming staff members from McArthur, McKeiver, & Vaughan will join the Firm in the Matthews, NC office of LBA Haynes Strand.

McArthur, McKeiver, & Vaughan has been a part of the Charlotte community for over three decades, since its inception in 1978.  The mission of the firm was always to deliver pro-active and client-centered services to its clients aimed at adding value and helping their clients reach their goals.  These same ideals of being proactive and client-centric are pillars of LBA Haynes Strand, thus creating a unified Firm culture.  The addition of McArthur, McKeiver, & Vaughan will add not only a strong culture piece to the LBA Haynes Strand Firm, but also a strong dental accounting and consulting practice,  a forensic accounting offering,  and a profitability consulting service offering.

John Bly, Principal, CEO of LBA Haynes Strand had this to say regarding the combination, “We are thrilled to be able to add such a strong team of talented and driven Principals to LBA Haynes Strand.  The additions of Brad, Patrick, and Steve to our Matthews office is a natural fit for us as we seek to grow our Firm and grow the service offerings that we can offer our clients.  We strive to become a one stop shop for all middle market business owners’ accounting and financial needs in North Carolina and the Southeastern US.  The ability to ring in the New Year with such an exciting announcement can be attributed to both Firm’s hard work and dedication to a unified vision of what a modern accounting firm should be.”

In addition, LBA Haynes Strand recently announced the acquisition of Dave Recchion and SeeRisk Management Advisors out of High Point, NC.  Dave Recchion joined the Greensboro office as a Principal on December 1, 2016.

Exciting News: Chad Stafford Has Been Promoted To Principal

LBA Haynes Strand is pleased to announce that effective January 1st, Chad Stafford has been promoted to Principal. Chad joins the principal team, where he will remain focused on providing tax planning, tax preparation, and tax research for clients of LBA Haynes Strand.

John Bly, Principal and CEO of the firm, had this to say, “Chad is a long term member of our team in Mt. Airy.  As a firm we are excited to have him become a principal with the firm.  It’s an exciting step for both Chad in his career path and for the firm’s continued focus on developing our people.”

Having been with the Firm for over 20 years this promotion is a result of Chad’s hard work, loyalty to the Firm, commitment to our team, and dedication to providing top-notch tax services to his clients.

Please join us in congratulating Chad Stafford on this exciting promotion! To arrange a meeting with Chad, contact us!

3 Design Tips For Your Exit Strategy

A successful and effective exit from a business usually takes more than a miracle. I do believe in miracles, however gaining the greatest value for your company doesn’t usually happen without a solid design and execution. As a business owner contemplating a future exit, you should be focused on a plan that includes the following 3 design tips:

1. Timing

Is the market right? Are other parties interested in acquiring your company? Do you have plans for after your exit? Do you have more passion or anxiety over the business?

Timing is everything if your objective is to maximize the value of your company. Don’t be a statistic, too many company owners run the company up the growth curve, and down the other side before relinquishing control and exiting the business. Companies frequently grow beyond the capabilities of the owner, so all these considerations will help you determine the right timing.

2. Value

Have you completed a valuation on the company? Can the value of the company be improved? Will the exit event provide the revenue, cash and stability you desire and need?

Value is the number one driver for most executives contemplating an exit. However, value is nearly impossible to change if you have one foot out the door. Value creation is difficult but will yield the greatest financial reward for each dollar invested. Reducing costs, improving processes, increasing margins, managing debt, hiring the right resources and growing the top line are all important factors in gaining the greatest value for your business. A good business advisor can help you navigate through the projects that offer the highest return on value.

3. Succession

Do your leaders have the skills, interest and passion to carry on and improve the business? Do you financially need the business to perform after your exit?

Succession is not an issue if you are emotionally and financially detached from the exit event. In this scenario, succession is the problem for the acquirer and the seller can take the money and run. However many small business owners can’t afford to detach financially and therefore must be concerned about the quality of the successors (family members or employees). Complicated exit scenarios tend to create succession challenges and as a result will have a negative impact on the value.

Exiting a business is not an event, it is a process. Albeit an emotional process, it requires a proper design to get the most out of the final exit event. Exiting your business is much easier when you understand the 3 design tips and  have a plan to answer the tough questions regarding. . . Timing, Value and Succession.  Then you can ” Exit by Design”,  and not exit by mistake or miracle.

QuickBooks Online: Is It Right For Your Business?

QuickBooks Online has become a widely used alternative to the traditional desktop versions of QuickBooks. With up-to-date bank and expense information that is accessible by both the business owner and CPA (once the CPA is granted accountant access to the company) it’s easy to see the immense benefits. Business owners have no down time as they wait for their CPA to do monthly, quarterly or yearly work and CPAs have the most recent data in order to efficiently and effectively assist their clients in day-to-day business dealings.

Unlike the desktop versions of QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online provides users with the most current version without the yearly added cost of upgrading software. The highly secure QuickBooks Online servers provide immediate backup of your company files and is accessible from virtually anywhere you can access the internet. There is even an awesome app for the iPad that enables you to take photos of receipts and enter them into your bank or credit card register on the go. The portability and functionality of the program makes keeping your company’s financial records a breeze.

QuickBooks Online is allowing us at LBA Haynes Strand to stay ahead of the curve by achieving results through a fully engaged approach and diligent planning. To see a visual guide on converting to QuickBooks Online, click here or contact our office for additional information on the benefits and limitations of the software. 

2016 Year in Review: Tax Highlights

As the LBA Haynes Strand staff gears up for tax season, we wanted to share a few highlights from the annual tax summary provided by Wolters Kluwer:

  • Overall, there are not a significant number of changes from 2016 to 2017 which will impact most of you.  However, political and tax experts are all anxiously awaiting the first days of President-Elect Trump’s to see how things kick off.
  • Tax season officially kicks off January 23, 2017.  We’ll all be here working hard to make sure you get your returns filed by April 18th.  By the way, did you notice that it’s a different day this year?  Here’s why.
  • Mileage reimbursements continue to slide slightly.  Business rates will be 53.5₵ and Medical/Moving rates will be 17₵
  • For 2017, the IRS announced a variety of inflation-adjusted tax amounts.  Some examples include, Standard Deduction for a Single Filer went from $6,300 in 2016 to $6,350 in 2017.  The one that I thought was interesting was the Social Security Wage Base.  In 2016, the base was $118,000 but in 2017 the base increased to $127,200

For more Highlights from this Report, please CLICK HERE!

Recent Change For Small Business: Something You May Want To Do

The President signed the 21st Century Cures Act on December 13, 2016. This law allows small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees to use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) after 2016. HRAs allow employers to pay or reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses. Employers can deduct the expense on their business tax returns but employees generally do not have to include the expense in their income.

Employers must offer the arrangement to all employees and distribute a written notice to all employees at least 90 days before the beginning of each tax year. For 2017, a notice must be distributed before March 13. The amount of the expense may not exceed $4,950 ($10,000 for family) per year.

No mention was made on how to treat 2% owners of S corporations.

Please click the button below for a no-cost consultation to discuss more detailed information on health reimbursement arrangements.

LBA Haynes Strand Has Acquired SeeRisk Management Advisors, LLC

LBA Haynes Strand is excited to announce the acquisition and combination of SeeRisk Management Advisors, LLC to our family. Effective December 1, 2016, Dave Recchion, President of SeeRisk Management Advisors, LLC, has joined the LBA Haynes Strand team as a Principal and leader in our Greensboro office. Dave brings 30 years of professional experience to our Firm. After working as a Partner with Ernst & Young for 13 years, he founded and ran a highly profitable Risk Management Firm in High Point known as SeeRisk Management Advisors, LLC for the past 4 years. Dave will join Johnny Wood as the Principals of the Firm leading our Greensboro Office.

The combination with SeeRisk Advisors will greatly expand our client service offerings to include: Risk Assessments, Internal Audit outsourcing, Internal Controls, Sarbanes Oxley, Process Improvement, and a specialization in Risk Management Strategy. In addition, Dave brings a unique service offering for family and privately owned businesses called, “Exit By Design”.  LBA Haynes Strand clients will have immediate access to this offering which includes a design session and strategy development for a successful transition for clients ready to exit their businesses. Many business owners struggle with the decisions related to selling, merging, and handing down their family and privately owned businesses. The “Exit By Design” offering helps clients identify and build the greatest value for their business, while designing the best exit strategy from their business.   

Prior to founding SeeRisk Advisors, Dave was a Partner with Ernst & Young, where he held a key leadership role in their national advisory practice. In his role as Advisory Markets Leader for the Americas he managed strategic client relationships on a national and global level, where he developed and executed the firm strategy surrounding Risk Advisory Services. 

John Bly, CEO of LBA Haynes Strand, PLLC, while expressing his excitement for the combination and addition of Dave was quoted as saying, “Process improvement and Risk Strategy methodology will enable us to dig deeper into the challenges that face our clients and help identify and mitigate their strategic, financial, compliance, operations, and reputation risks before they impact the business. The addition of Dave to our leadership team demonstrates our commitment to provide a complete and holistic view into the needs of our clients”. 

Please join us in welcoming Dave Recchion to the LBA Haynes Strand family!