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Monday, November 14, 2016

Cybersecurity Awareness




Forewarned is Forearmed:

Florida Small Business News reported on Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR)

Spear-phishing attacks targeting employees increased by 55 percent in 2015.

Over the last five years, there has been a steady increase in attacks on small businesses. 43 percent of all attacks were targeted at small businesses last year.

Small business owners need to educate their employees on how they can avoid these types of attacks.

A new zero-day vulnerability was discovered.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are security holes in browsers and website plugins that groups exploit before a vendor can be aware of and fix the problem.

The number of zero-day vulnerabilities in 2015 more than doubled, a 125 percent increase from 2014.

There are major security vulnerabilities in three-quarters of popular websites.

Cybercriminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in legitimate websites to infect and scam users. Being wary of security holes while browsing websites—even popular ones—can help your information stay secure.

500 million personal records were stolen or lost.

There were nine mega-breaches in 2015.

Ransomware increased by 35 percent.

In ransomware attacks, hackers usually encrypt stolen data and demand ransom for its release. In 2015 the focus shifted from PCs to smart phones, Mac, and Linux systems. 

Symantec, recommends that companies do not pay ransom when they are attacked because it funds subsequent attacks.

Now you Know!

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why ALL Business Owners Must Keep Accurate & Complete Records


As a business owner, there are many reasons your must keep accurate and complete records for your business operations.

1-The IRS Requires Business Owners to Keep Proper Business Records - In order to file timely, accurate, and complete tax returns, the IRS requires all business owners to keep proper business records.

2-Minimize Taxes & Audit Protection - With accurate and complete business records, taxes can be minimized, IRS penalties can be avoided, and the business owner will maximize their chance of success in the event of an IRS Audit.

3-Preparation of Financial Statements - Proper business records let you prepare a complete set of financial statements.           

4-Obtain Financing - Lenders will generally require business owners to provide a complete set of financial statements when applying for a business loan.

4-Monitor Business Operations & Progress - Up to date business records can help a business get started, run efficiently, and grow. Potential problems can be identified early on and opportunities can be taken advantage of.

5-Avoid Potential Legal Issues - Proper business records will help avoid potential problems with both customers and suppliers should a dispute arise.

6-Selling Your Business - Should the time come when you wish to sell your business, buyers will generally want to see prior tax returns and financial statements.

 

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC

Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor


 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Businesses Booming for Women




 

A recent article in the Sun Sentinel reported that South Florida ranks First in growth of Women-Led Businesses according to an American Express study.

 

That is good news..

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nondeductable Expenses

 

Certain business expenses are subject to very specific tax rules (and often to misinformation among taxpayers). Below are a few such expenses and the tax rules that apply.

 

Uniforms:

 

For work uniforms to be tax deductible, the clothing must not be suitable for personal use outside the workplace. It doesn't matter that the employer requires the employee to wear the clothing while on the job. If the clothing is suitable for personal use outside the workplace, it is a nondeductible personal expense. Examples of deductible work uniforms would be a police uniform, a firefighter's uniform, and a medical professional's doctor and nurse work scrubs since these are not suitable for personal use outside the workplace.

 

Club Dues:

 

Membership dues paid to various types of clubs (airline, athletic, country, hotel, social, sporting) are not a tax deductible business expenses in and of themselves. Meals and entertainment expenses incurred at the club are deductible business expenses, provided the various rules for meals and entertainment are met by the business owner.

 

Business Gifts:

 

Business gifts to clients, customers, and potential prospects are tax deductible up to a limit of $25 per recipient per year. Any amount in excess of the $25 maximum is a nondeductible business expense.

 

Fines and Penalties:

 

Fines and penalties incurred in a business are not tax deductible.

 

Federal Income Taxes:

 

Federal Income Taxes are not tax deductible.

 

Interest on Car Loans:

 

Interest paid by an “employee” on a car loan is nondeductible personal interest even if the auto is used for business purposes.

 

A “self-employed taxpayer” may claim the interest paid on the business use portion of a car as a deductible business expense.

 

 

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC

Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor

Visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

 

Monday, October 17, 2016

How Long Should You Keep Payroll Records?


  

At least four years after the due date for employees to file their income tax returns for the particular year, IRS says.

 

Records to be retained include wages, payment dates, and employee data such as their names, dates of employment, Social Security numbers and addresses.

 

Also, copies of W-4 Forms, W-2 Statements, I-9 Forms, Payroll Tax Returns, and amounts and dates of tax deposits.

 

Keeping these records will help you survive a State of Federal Income Tax and Payroll Tax Audit.

 

TAX TIP:

 

If you outsource payroll, be sure the payroll company provides you with copies of all payroll related information each month, including proof of payroll tax deposits made. The business and business owner is the party ultimately responsible for required payroll tax deposits.

 

 

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC

Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor


 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Balancing Act



Here is a case where a decision is impacting the business in very visible ways.

 

When the restaurant started the employees were instructed to “greet and seat” entering customers “ASAP”, providing preference over servicing seated customers. This created waiting lines of employees at the entrance during slack periods, another welcoming sign to customers, and helped build a repeat customer base.

 

At some point the process shifted to one where seated customers received priority. This resulted in customer “queues” waiting to be seated at one of the many empty tables they could see. The repeat customer base shrank as a result.

 

How about the balance between reservations and walk-ins?

 

In the restaurant business, “time is money”. Get them seated, serviced and billed/collected to make room for the next customer.

 

Where is the balance in your business?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Depreciation Issues

 

Depreciation is an annual income tax deduction that allows you to recover the cost or other basis of certain property over the time you use the property in your business.

 

To be depreciable, the property must meet all of the following requirements:

·It must be property you own.

·It must be used in your trade or business.

·It must have a determinable useful life.

·It must be expected to last more than one year.

 

Examples include: Automobiles, Buildings, Equipment, Furniture, Fixtures, Intangible Assets, and Structures.

 

NOTE: Land is never depreciable.

 

The tax laws require business owners to keep proper records showing the business, investment, and personal use of property. Only the business and investment use is depreciable.

 

Proper records include:

·Description of the property

·How the property was acquired       

·Property's cost or other basis

·Business and Investment use percentages

 

Depreciation begins when you place the property in service, meaning when the property is ready and available for its specific business use.

 

Depreciation ends when you have fully recovered your cost or other basis or you permanently withdraw it from use due to:

·Sale or exchange

·Convert to personal use

·Abandonment

·Property is destroyed or scrapped.

 

The tax laws use various depreciation rules for specific types of property. IRS Publication 946 provides detailed information regarding depreciation issues.

 

 

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC

Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor