Protect Your Finances and Prepare This Holiday Season // Facebook Live Recap

As we move into the new year and through the holiday season, we need to keep a couple of items in the forefront of our business minds.

Scamming increases during this time, so take precautions to prevent becoming a victim. If you have an FSA (Flexible Spending Account), figuring out if you have a balance left to use should be done now so you don’t lose those funds. And, we have a couple of reminders for you!

That Scamming Business

This week is the IRS’s 3rd Annual National Tax Security Awareness Campaign that runs the entire week. They are bringing this topic to the forefront because of the huge scams we’re seeing out there. Every day they are putting out a notice in the form of a post on their website about how to protect your data and financial records. They also had a free webinar Monday on “Understanding the Dark Web” covering this topic. Feel free to check that out and look through those posts to reduce your risk.

When bringing your computer to and from the office, consider the importance of not leaving it exposed in your car. If you plan to stop somewhere to shop, take that extra time to either run back to the office to grab the computer or drop it off at home prior to shopping. On that shopping trip, a great idea for a gift would be a wallet with an RFID blocker in it so scammers can’t scan someone’s wallet and get their credit card numbers or anything. Also, be sure your firewall software remains updated, do not leave your hard drive on overnight, and 2-factor authentication when using a cloud service may be a good thought.

Use It or Lose It

Since January is right around the corner, those Flex Spending Accounts need to be looked at. Health Savings Accounts will continue to build, but you forfeit an FSA money back to your employer if not used. Many employees may not even be aware of what ways to use these plans. There’s a pretty wide range of possibilities, such as:

  •      Medical
  •      Dental
  •      Vision
  •      Sunscreen SPF 30 or above
  •      Acupuncture
  •      Prenatal Vitamins
  •      Prescriptions
  •      Hearing aids

You can even use your FSA dollars to sign up for an Aflac plan and get extra benefits on top of your current insurance. Basically, any type of health care that either isn’t fully covered or may not be covered at all by your insurance can be weighed as an option for an FSA expense.

REMINDER: Spaces are still available for the Payroll Class December 13th from 3:30-5:30 with past President of MSATP, William Feehley, CPA. You could even make a whole day of it with ethics, Maryland tax update, and payroll update classes.

Topics that will be covered include:

Diving into workman’s compensation insurance and independent contractor groups among other items. He will be discussing issues that affect you as a tax preparer rather than simply explaining how to fill out a 940 and 941.

Where workman’s comp insurance is concerned, you want to look at whether you are getting and using all of it. If you’re paying for insurance that isn’t being used, you may want to elect into that insurance for the officers and others beyond the main employees. Checking into this will at least get through to your minimums.

When you think about what you use your independent contractors for, you need to examine control. If you have any kind of control over what they do, that is almost a guarantee that they are actually an employee. Telling someone they have to be to work at 8:00 in the morning and you’ll provide the tools and everything they need to do the job for that day, they probably will not fit into the contractor category even though you want to pay them that way.

Then, subcontractors will no longer be considered as part of the wages for increasing your QBI deduction. Also, taking care of any unemployment taxes you need to match up front, so you prevent getting hit with a huge liability that can crush you if you allow it to grow while waiting. Be diligent in knowing whether or not subcontractors are subject to unemployment

If you’re a sole proprietor or LLC, make sure clients issue a 1099 if you receive more than $600 from them. Also, the first year for this requirement, landlords must be issued 1099s for the rent being paid. The filing deadline for paperwork is January 31st. In prior years, you could get an automatic 30-day extension for those forms. But this year, not only do you need to apply for that extension, they can choose to either grant you the extension or not.

To hear more about these topics and more, join William Feehley, CPA December 13th in the Payroll Class.

Another great objective to contemplate is a website. If you’re not on the internet, you better get there! Websites for Tax Pros builds websites for pretty much everyone who’s a Maryland Society Attendee (and hopefully member). A low-cost provider, they offer a $99 setup, then just $49 per month which is a special for anyone who attends a Maryland Society Seminar.

Custom templates, content, and IRS updates come provided to you as a service. We all know January to about April, you won’t be touching your website. To get a website up and running, you can expect about 2-3 weeks. Although they’re hitting their busy season, they always meet a deadline.

Starting with templates, they still ensure that every single website is unique for the individual user. After giving you the starting point, they customize it from there (move menus, color changes for logo, etc.). You can do it yourself or have the power of a web developer if you want one.

If you have tax software that integrates, they can link that in. They also offer a share file if you do not have a portal or it’s cost-prohibitive which starts at $19 per month when you pay annually. This share file includes one user and an unlimited amount of client accounts with many user-friendly and simplifying features. Get in touch with them at https://www.websitefortaxpros.com or call them at 302-401-4717.

Reminder: Get your PTIN renewed! December 31st is the due date. Do not wait until the last minute to get it done, you never know if the IRS system will go down. So, remember to do it now and complete it before the 31st.