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Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

performance reviewEligible employers are entitled to an Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) of up to 70 percent of the first $10,000 in wages and certain health care plan expenses paid per employee for each of the first two quarters of 2021 according to the New Stimulus Act.

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)?

Designed to incentivize businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the pandemic, the ERTC is a fully-refundable tax credit that is part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief plan. As part of this plan, the New Stimulus Act includes the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, which became effective January 1, 2021. This Act amends and extends the former ERTC and the availability of advance payments of the tax credits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Is My Company Eligible for the ERTC?

Previously, employers could only take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) OR the ERTC, so the ERTC was not widely used. However, Congress revised this provision to make both plans available to qualifying businesses.

As of December 2020, small businesses (with 500 or fewer employees) that suffered a revenue reduction in 2020 can claim the ERTC. A revenue reduction specifically means a business experienced a decline in gross receipts by more than 20 percent in any quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. (Note this is a change from the previous ERTC rule that required a gross receipts decline of at least 50 percent.)

Further, the tax credit applies to employers, including tax-exempt organizations, that conducted business during 2020 and were forced to fully or partially suspend operation during any quarter due to government orders related to COVID-19, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

How is the Maximum Amount of ERTC Determined?

As mentioned, under the New Stimulus Act, eligible employers are entitled to a tax credit equal to 70 percent of the first $10,000 in wages and qualifying health plan expenses paid per employee for each of the first two quarters of 2021 (up to $14,000).

Note that the combined maximum $14,000 credit for the first two quarters of 2021 is available even if the employer previously received the $5,000 maximum credit for wages paid in 2020.

In addition to the aforementioned changes to the ERTC, the wage period has been extended. Under the New Stimulus Act, qualified wages are those paid after March 12, 2020 up until July 1, 2021. The previous cutoff date was January 1, 2021.

What are Qualified Wages?

Qualified wages are wages, compensation, and qualified health plan expenses paid by an eligible employer after March 12, 2020 and before July 1, 2021 for time that the employee did not provide services due to a full or partial COVID-19-related government suspension of operations OR a 20 percent or greater decline in gross receipts.

For specific determinants, see sections 3121(a) and 3231(e) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The determination of qualified health plan expenses is the same as qualified health plan expenses for the Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Number of Employees Matters

Under the CARES Act, companies with 100 or fewer employees were eligible for the ERTC; however, under the New Stimulus Act, the threshold increased to 500 employees. In other words, for the first two quarters of 2021, a company with 500 or fewer employees is eligible for the ERTC. This is true whether those employees are working or not.

Other Notable Changes to the ERTC

  • Previously, governmental entities were not eligible for the ERTC under the CARES Act; however, under the New Stimulus Act this tax credit is available to state or local run colleges, universities, and organizations providing medical or hospital care.
  • While the New Stimulus Act allows businesses with a PPP loan to qualify for the ERTC, the tax credit may not be claimed on wages paid with the PPP loan that has been or will be forgiven.

As always, seek counsel from your trusted accountant, tax preparer, or CPA to be certain your business is in compliance with current laws related to the ERTC or any tax matter.

Billing Customers for Time and Expenses in QuickBooks Online

Sometimes, you have to spend money on your customers. Make sure you’re billing them for it.

In the first two cases, you’re spending money upfront that will eventually be paid back. In all three cases, QuickBooks Online calls these billable expenses and billable time, and it does a good job of tracking these transactions – much better than if you were scribbling notes on a receipt or a paper timecard.

Obviously, you want to be paid for these expenditures as soon as possible to minimize their impact on your own cash flow. So QuickBooks Online “reminds” you that they need to be billed when you create an invoice for a customer. It also offers reports that help you track unbilled time and expenses. Here’s a look at how it works.

Tracking Billable Time

It’s easy to create a billable time activity. Click +New, then Single time activity. Fill in the blanks and select items from drop-down lists until you’ve completed a form. The critical section of this screen is pictured below:

In this example, the employee will receive $50/hour for the work done (Cost rate). Because the Service being provided will be billed back to the customer, you click in the box in front of Billable to create a checkmark. You’re charging the customer $65/hour (a $15/hour markup), so you enter that number in the Billable field. You don’t have to worry about remembering that. QuickBooks Online, as it does with all of your other company information, retains that and makes it available to you.

Tracking Expenses

You probably already know how to record expenses in QuickBooks Online. You can either click the +New button and then Expense, or you can click the Expenses link in the toolbar and the New transaction | Expense. Just as you did in recording time activities, you complete the fields and place a checkmark in the Billable column and select the Customer/Project from the drop-down list.

Once you’ve saved a billable expense, it will appear in the table on the Expense Transactions page. To display is again, click View/Edit at the end of the corresponding row. The transaction will open, and you’ll notice that there’s a small View link in the Billable column. Click it, and you’ll see this:

 

 

In this example, there’s been no markup applied to the transaction. If you want to add markup costs to all billable expenses, click the gear icon in the upper right and go to Account and settings | Expenses. Click the pencil icon to the far right of the Bills and expenses block of options. Click the box in front of Markup with a default rate of to create a checkmark and enter a percentage. All of your billable expenses will now include a markup of that percentage.

Invoicing Time and Expenses

The next time you invoice a customer who has outstanding time and expenses, QuickBooks Online will remind you that they’re pending. Open an invoice form and select a customer who you know has billables. The right vertical pane will contain a box containing information like this:

 

Click Open if you want to see the original expense record. Clicking Add will, of course, include that transaction on the invoice.

QuickBooks Online offers another way to see your pending billables. Click the Reports link in the toolbar and scroll down to the Who owes you section. You’ll see two related reports here: Unbilled charges and Unbilled time.

We want you to make sure that you’re getting reimbursed for all of the time and expenses you incur on behalf of your clients. So please let us know if you have further questions on this topic or if you have other QuickBooks Online issues.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Do you ever spend money on behalf of your customers? QuickBooks Online calls these billable expenses, and it can track them. Here’s how.

If you provide services for customers, you’ll have to invoice those hours as billable time. Did you know you can record this activity in QuickBooks Online? Here’s how.

Did you know when you invoice customers with outstanding time and expense charges, QuickBooks Online reminds you about them? Find out more here.

Confused about which customers owe you for billable time and expenses? QuickBooks Online provides specific reports for that. Find out more here.

Call Roe CPA, P.C. today at 678-969-0523 and learn why our clients would not think of using another Atlanta CPA firm for QuickBooks training and support.

 

 

6 Ways Income Taxes Will Be Different in 2021

Every year brings some degree of change regarding filing income taxes. While 2020 taxes are a done deal, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next tax year. To help you be prepared for next year’s filing, here are 6 Ways Income Taxes Will Be Different for 2021.

Standard Deduction Increase

Standard deductions reduce the amount of your income that is subject to federal tax. Most taxpayers do not have enough deductions to itemize, so they take the standard deduction. Annual adjustments for inflation cause the standard deduction to increase slightly each tax year. For 2021, here are the standard deductions and the amount of the increase from the prior year.

  • Married filing jointly $25,100, up $300
  • Single and married filing separately $12,550, up $150
  • Head of household $18,800, up $150

While itemizing is more work, if your itemized deductions exced the standard deduction allowance for your tax filing category, itemizing makes sense.

Higher Tax Brackets

You already know the more money you earn, the more you pay in taxes. How much you earn, your income, along with your filing status, determines your tax bracket. There are seven tax brackets with the top tax rate being 37 percent for taxable income over $518,400. Brackets are adjusted annually to account for inflation. For 2021, tax bracket thresholds were increased by about 1 percent over 2020 levels.

Capital gains

When you sell an investment like real estate, stocks, or bonds, for more than you paid the net profit you make is taxed as either short- or long-term capital gains. If you held your investment for less than one year, you pay short-term capital gains. For investments held more than one year and one day, the capital gains tax on the profit you made is long-term. Short-term capital gains are taxed like regular income and up to $3,000 of short-term losses can be deducted. However, long-term capital gains are taxed different rates (0 – 20 percent) depending on taxable income and marital status.

For example, if you’re single and your income is below $40,400 in 2021, you fall into the 0 percent capital gains tax bracket. However, if you’re single and earn between $40,401 and $445,850, you move into the 15 percent bracket. Above that, it’s the 20 percent bracket for you.

The 0 percent bracket is approximately double for married couples ($80,800), but above that, brackets are close to the single filer brackets (15 percent up to $501,600 and 20 percent above that).

Individual Tax Credits

Tax credits lower your overall tax bill. There are quite a few credits to consider, but the most popular ones are the earned income tax credit, the saver’s tax credit, and the lifetime learning tax credit.

Earned income credit is for low- and middle-income taxpayers and is based on income, filing status, and number of children, although taxpayers without children can qualify. For 2021, the earned income credit ranges are up very slightly over 2020 and range from $543 to $6,728. Some criteria for the credit are having at least $1 of earned income, investment income must be $3,650 or less. Other stipulations apply, so check with your tax preparer to see if you qualify.

Saver’s credit is also designed for low- and middle-income taxpayers and is to encourage retirement contributions. Taxpayer adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than $33,000 in 2021 (up slightly from $32,500 in 2020) to qualify for the credit for single or married filing separately. Married filing jointly AGI must be less than $66,000 in 2021 (up from $65,000 in 2020).

Lifetime learning credit is for taxpayers who incur education expenses during the year. There was little change in this credit for 2021. Married filing jointly income limits increased $1,000 (from $118,000 to $119,000 for full credit and from $138,000 to $139,000 for partial credit). Other filing statuses will see no change for 2021.

Alternative Minimum Tax

The AMT exemption amount for 2021 is $73,600 for singles and $114,600 for married couples filing jointly. This is a change from 2020 when the exemption amount was $72,900 and $113,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Fringe Benefits, Medical Savings Accounts, and Estates

Most employee fringe benefits allowances for 2021 will continue at their 2020 levels; however, changes occur in health savings account (HSA) contributions, which increase by $50 for single and $100 for families from 2020.

The maximum out-of-pocket amounts for high-deductible health plans (HDHP) increases by $100 for single and $200 for families.

The federal estate tax targets the amount of wealth you can pass along when you die. It is no concern unless your estate is worth more than $11.7 million when you die. That figure is up from $11.58 million in 2020.

Retirement Plans

Contributions for 401(k) plans will not change from 2020 top off amount of $19,500 with a $6,500 catch-up contribution allowed for individuals 50 or older. Maximum contributions from all sources (employer and employee) rise by $1,000.


Of course, these are an overview of changes for the 2021 tax year. To be sure you’re up to speed on all the tax changes that impact you, be sure to speak to your trusted accountant.

Call 678-969-0523 to set up a free initial consultation with Roe CPA, P.C..

“Extender” Legislation Impacts Individuals and Small Businesses

Roe CPAThe federal spending package that was enacted in the waning days of 2019 contains numerous provisions that will impact both businesses and individuals. In addition to repealing three health care taxes and making changes to retirement plan rules, the legislation extends several expired tax provisions. Here is an overview of several of the more important provisions in the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2019.

Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Before the Act, mortgage insurance Apremiums paid or accrued before January 1, 2018, were potentially deductible as qualified residence interest, subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The Act retroactively extends this treatment through 2020.

Reduction in Medical Expense Deduction Floor

For 2017 and 2018, taxpayers were able to claim an itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses to the extent that such expenses were greater than 7.5% of AGI. The AGI threshold was scheduled to increase to 10% of AGI for 2019 and later tax years. Under the Act, the 7.5% of AGI threshold is extended through 2020.

Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses Deduction

The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses for higher education, which expired at the end of 2017, has been extended through 2020. The deduction is capped at $4,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI does not exceed $65,000 ($130,000 for those filing jointly) or $2,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI is not greater than $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers). The deduction is not allowed with modified AGI of more than $80,000 ($160,000 if you are a joint filer).

Credit for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

The 10% credit for certain qualified energy improvements (windows, doors, roofs, skylights) to a principal residence has been extended through 2020, as have the credits for purchases of energy efficient property (furnaces, boilers, biomass stoves, heat pumps, water heaters, central air conditions, and circulating fans), subject to a lifetime cap of $500.

Empowerment Zone Tax Incentives

Businesses and individual residents within economically depressed areas that are designated as “Empowerment Zones” are eligible for special tax incentives. Empowerment Zone designations, which expired on December 31, 2017, have been extended through December 31, 2020, under the new tax law.

Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave

A provision in the tax code permits eligible employers to claim an elective general business credit based on eligible wages paid to qualifying employees with respect to family and medical leave. This credit has been extended through 2020.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Employers who hire individuals who belong to one or more of 10 targeted groups can receive an elective general business credit under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. The recent tax law extends this credit through 2020.

For details about these and other tax breaks included in the recent law, please consult your tax advisor.

Call 678-969-0523 to set up a free initial consultation with Roe CPA, P.C..

5 Resolutions QuickBooks Online Users Should Make for 2021

She is devoted to her careerNew year, new challenges, and the potential for new successes. Here are five ways you can improve your financial management in 2021.

A painful year is drawing to a close. We’ll still be dealing with COVID-19 and a struggling economy in early 2021, but there’s hope on the horizon. There’s a lot you can’t control about the difficulties facing our country, but you can take control of your corner of it, especially in terms of how you manage your finances.

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online, you know how it’s solved the paperwork confusion of the past. But are you taking advantage of all of its capabilities? As you turn your digital calendar to January, consider expanding your use of the website to set yourself up for success in the new year. Here are five features to explore if you haven’t already.

Practice Proactive Reconciliation

QuickBooks Online’s Banking screen display registers for the bank and credit card transactions that have been posted by your banks. Do you review these frequently? It’s easy, and it’s important. It will save time when you do your monthly reconciliations with your bank statements. Hover over Transactions in the toolbar and select Banking. You can see some of your transaction management options in the image below.

When your statement comes and you’re ready to reconcile, you can use QuickBooks Online’s tools that take you step by step through the process. Hover over Accounting in the toolbar and select Reconcile. Let us know if you need help with reconciliation or with managing downloaded transactions.

Start Accepting Online Payments

This is probably the #1 way to encourage customers to pay you faster. When you set up a merchant account through QuickBooks Payments, you’re be able to accept credit cards, debit cards, and ACH bank transfers. Your invoices will include a Pay Now button and will contain the information your customers need to pay electronically. Their funds will go into your bank account.

There are other ways they can pay you directly. You can take their card numbers over the phone. You can also get a free card reader from Intuit and swipe their cards on your mobile device. And you can set up recurring payments that will occur automatically. There are no base fees – you just pay per transaction.

Set Weekly and Monthly Report Schedules

You may just run reports in QuickBooks Online as you need them. Some reports, though, should be created every week at a minimum, like Accounts receivable aging (detail or summary), Accounts Payable Aging, Open invoices, and Unpaid Bills. There are many others, but you need to keep a close watch on what you owe and who owes you.

It’s important to run some other reports on a monthly (or, sometimes, quarterly) basis, including Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. Rather than just providing snapshots of where you stand with money coming in and going out, they give you a more comprehensive view of your finances that can help you make better business decisions. They’re complex and often difficult to analyze, though, which is why QuickBooks Online categorizes them as For my accountant. We can create and interpret these for you.

Expand QuickBooks Online’s Features by Using Apps

QuickBooks Online is generic enough that it can be used by a wide variety of small businesses. But that flexibility may mean that it’s not quite robust enough in one area or another, like inventory management or time tracking. There are hundreds of apps that you can integrate with QuickBooks Online to fill in the gaps. Some are free. Click on Apps in the toolbar. Again, we’re available to help if you need assistance.

Evaluate the Cost-effectiveness of Your Vendors

It’s easy to stick with the same old suppliers because it’s a hassle to change. But so many companies are hurting because of the pandemic that you may find you can get what you need for less. To go over your whole list, hover over Expenses in the toolbar and click on Vendors. You might clean up your list while you’re at it. Click the down arrow at the end of each row and select Make inactive if you haven’t ordered from specific suppliers over the last year.

As we said earlier, we’re available to meet with you and explain any of the concepts discussed here in more depth. It’s still a hard time for so many small businesses, and we want to be of help wherever we can.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Don’t have a budget set for your business? QuickBooks Online has tools that can simplify the process of creating one.

When you’re creating a budget, it’s helpful to distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses. QuickBooks Online has tools that can help you, including budgeting for necessities first.

When was the last time you shopped for new suppliers? Now is a good time to see if you could save some money and help with your budget. QuickBooks Online has many tools that can help both you and your business budget.

Did you know QuickBooks Online allows you to use existing income and expense data to create a budget? Here is how this is done.

Give Roe CPA, P.C. a call at 678-969-0523. We’ll set up a confidential, free initial consultation to discuss how we might make running your business a little bit easier.

 

 

Protect Your Business Data from Hackers

Business team busy at workDo you know where your company’s data is? Without strong security controls in place, your data could be anywhere — and you could be dealing with a privacy breach. As technology grows more complex and the flow of information accelerates, opportunities for the misuse and abuse of data are bound to increase.

Flow Chart of Data

It’s imperative that you know exactly what data your business collects. Pay particular attention to the personally identifiable information (PII) you have for both customers and employees. Create a detailed flow chart showing what information is gathered, how it is captured, how it is used, where it is stored, how it is shared, and how it is ultimately disposed of.

Risk and Regulations

An effective data management plan helps ensure compliance and manage risk by establishing policies and procedures that control the flow and use of information. In addition to federal privacy legislation, the vast majority of states have laws to prevent security breaches, and some industries have developed their own privacy guidelines. Note that each phase of the information “life cycle” may require a unique set of controls.

Privacy Policies

Privacy policies are the “public” face of your data management plan. Best practices include:

  • Notify customers about your privacy policies. Explain why information is collected, how it is used, why it is retained, and why it is disclosed (if it is).
  • Obtain customers’ consent to use the information as outlined in your policies.
  • Collect only the information you need and only for the purposes outlined.
  • Keep personal information secure.
  • Allow customers to review and update their PII.
  • Do not retain information any longer than needed to fulfill your stated purpose or as required (by law or regulation).
  • If you disclose information to a third party, do so only with consent and only for the purposes outlined.
  • Monitor your compliance efforts on an ongoing basis.

For more tips on how to keep business best practices front and center for your company, give us a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Give Roe CPA, P.C. a call at 678-969-0523. We’ll set up a confidential, free initial consultation to discuss how we might make running your business a little bit easier.

 

 

10 Tips for Better Budgeting…

Analyzing electronic document…and how QuickBooks Online can help you with the mechanics.

If you already have a budget, it’s probably been difficult for you to stick with it for the last several months. Unless you provide products and/or services that have been in great demand since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, you’ve had to adjust your budget significantly.

Better days are ahead, though, and now is a good time to start doing some planning for 2021. While there are still likely to be uncertainties next year, creating a budget will give you a starting point. A budget increases your awareness of all of your projected income and expenses, which may make it less likely that you’ll find yourself constantly running short on funds.

Here are some ways you can make your budgeting process more effective and realistic.

Use what you already know. Unless you’re starting a brand-new business, you already have the best resource possible: a record of your past income and expenses. Use this as the basis for your projections.

Be aware of your sales cycle. Even if you’re not a seasonal business, you’ve probably learned that some months or quarters are better than others. Budget conservatively for the slower months.

Distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses. Enter your budget items for the bills and other expenses that must be covered before you add optional categories.

QuickBooks tips

You can use data from a previous year to create a new budget in QuickBooks Online.

Keep it simple. Don’t budget down to the last paper clip. You risk budget burnout, and your reports will be unwieldy.

Build in some backup funding. Just as you’re supposed to have an emergency fund in your personal life, try to create one for your business.

Make your employees part of the process. You shouldn’t be secretive about the expense element of your budget. Try to get input from staff in areas where they have knowledge.

Overestimate your expenses, a little. This can help prevent “borrowing” from one budget category to make up for a shortfall in another.

Consider using excess funds to pay down debt. Debt costs you money. The sooner you pay it off, the sooner you can use those payments for some non-essential items.

Look for areas where you can change vendors. As you’re creating your budget think carefully about each supplier of products and services. Can you find less costly alternatives?

Revisit your budget frequently. You should evaluate your progress at least once a month. In fact, you could even start by budgeting for only a couple of months at a time. You’ll learn a lot about your spending and sales patterns that you can use for future periods.

How QuickBooks Online Can Help

QuickBooks Online offers built-in tools to help you create a budget. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Budgeting under Tools. Click Add budget. At the top of the screen, give your budget a Name and select the Fiscal Year it should cover from the drop-down list by that field. Choose an Interval (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) and indicate whether you want to Pre-fill data from an existing year.

QuickBooks tips

QuickBooks Online supplies a budget template that already contains commonly used small business items.

The final field is labeled Subdivide by, which is optional. You can set up budgets that only include selected Customers or Classes, for example. Select the desired divider in that field, then choose who or what you want included in the next. Click Next or Create Budget in the lower right corner (depending on whether you used pre-filled data) to open your budget template. If you subdivided the budget, you’ll see a field marked View budget for. Click the down arrow and select from the options listed there.

To create your budget, you simply enter numbers in the small boxes supplied. Columns are divided by months or quarters, depending on what you specified, and rows are labeled with budget items (Advertising, Gross Receipts, Legal & Professional Fees, etc.). You simply enter numbers in the boxes that apply. When you click in a box, a small arrow appears pointing right. Click on this, and your number will automatically appear in the rest of that row’s boxes. When you’re done, click Save in the lower right. You can edit your budget at any time.

QuickBooks Online provides two related reports. Budget Overview displays all of the data in your budget(s). Budget vs. Actuals shows you how you’re adhering to your budget.

We know creating a budget can be challenging, but it’s so important – especially right now. We’d be happy to look at your company’s financial situation and see how QuickBooks’ budgeting tools—and its other accounting features—can help you get a better understanding of your finances.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Don’t have a budget set for your business? QuickBooks Online has tools that can simplify the process of creating one.

When you’re creating a budget, it’s helpful to distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses. QuickBooks Online has tools that can help you, including budgeting for necessities first.

When was the last time you shopped for new suppliers? Now is a good time to see if you could save some money and help with your budget. QuickBooks Online has many tools that can help both you and your business budget.

Did you know QuickBooks Online allows you to use existing income and expense data to create a budget? Here is how this is done.

Call Roe CPA, P.C. at 678-969-0523 to learn more about our services.

5 Ways to Lower Your SUTA Tax Rate

Close up of female accountant or banker making calculations. Savings, finances and economy conceptBecause the State Unemployment Tax Act – or SUTA – tax is mandatory, you may think you have no control over your SUTA rate. But to some extent, you do. The first thing to remember is that each state sets its own criteria for state unemployment tax, and rates vary by employer.

Typically, new employers are assigned a standard “new employer” rate. Over time, they receive an “experience rating,” which can be higher or lower than the new employer rate. The experience rating mainly depends on how many former employees have drawn unemployment benefits on the employer’s account. The more benefits claimed on an employer’s account, the higher its SUTA tax rate. Other determinants may include whether the employer is in the construction industry and the employer’s payroll size.

You may be powerless against some of these influencers – such as your business’s age and industry — but there are other ways to lower your SUTA rate. Here are five tactics.

1. Hire only when needed

Letting employees go because you don’t need them anymore likely renders them eligible for unemployment benefits. If they file for unemployment benefits, your SUTA rate is likely to increase. So, make sure you truly need an employee before hiring him or her.

2. Help your employees succeed

Employees terminated for gross misconduct typically do not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, employees fired for poor performance – such as due to lack of skills – may be eligible. To reduce the likelihood of terminating employees for poor performance, give them the resources they need to succeed, including proper tools and training.

3. Use independent contractors

You can avoid unemployment claims by legally hiring independent contractors instead of employees. If you decide to take this route, ensure all mandatory requirements for independent contractor status are met, including the Internal Revenue Service’s “right-to-control” test and applicable state tests.

4. Contest dubious unemployment claims

Dubious unemployment claims may involve former employees providing the state workforce agency with false information to obtain benefits or filing a claim even though they were rightfully terminated for gross misconduct. Before you fight an unemployment claim, consult with an unemployment benefits expert to gauge the strength of your case. Also, make sure you have supporting documents to back up your version of events.

5. Make voluntary contributions

Many states allow employers with an experience rating to voluntarily make a “buydown” payment, which cancels all or part of the benefits charged to their account, thereby reducing their SUTA tax rate.

More tips

Consider alternatives to layoffs, such as reducing employees’ work hours via your state’s work-sharing program.

Offer departing employees a solid severance package as well as outplacement services to help them quickly find a job. This way, they will be less inclined to rely on unemployment benefits.

Keep an eye on your SUTA tax rate. If it’s spiking for unknown reasons, contact your state’s workforce agency for an explanation.

We invite you to request a consultation online now or call us at 678-969-0523 to learn more about how we can help you save money on your taxes.

 

Could Your Sales Invoices Be Better? How QuickBooks Online Can Help.

She is devoted to her careerEvery interaction with your customers can enhance your image. Here’s how QuickBooks Online contributes to that.

Getting paid by your customers—on time, and in full—can take some effort on your part. You set smart due dates and enforce them. Price your products and services so they’re both reasonable and profitable. Accept online payments.

But are your invoices working for you here? QuickBooks Online provides sales form templates that you can usually use without modifying. But it also offers tools that support multiple kinds of customization. It helps you shape the content and appearance of your invoices and their accompanying messages to be consistent with your company’s brand.

These may be cosmetic changes, but they can affect the way customers react to communications from you. You have few chances to make an impression, so anything you can do to enhance and personalize every interaction will have impact on their impression of you. Neat, well-designed sales forms convey professionalism and attention to details.

Here’s a look at what you can do.

Editing Fields

Unless you use every single field in QuickBooks Online’s default sales form template, your invoices will look sloppier than they might otherwise. The site gives you control over much of the content that your customers will see. To make changes, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and select Account and Settings, then Sales. You’ll see Sales form content in the left column. Click on any of the fields to the right to open a more thorough list of options.


QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off in your sales forms and specify other preferences.

Click on the status (On, Off) in the right column to change it. When you’re satisfied with your selections, click Save. Then close that window by clicking the X in the upper right corner.

You have more options than these. Click the gear icon again, and then Your Company | Custom Form Styles. You’ll see that there is already a “master” form. You can either edit it or create a new one. We recommend leaving the master form alone so you always have a clean copy to consult if you get tangled up while you’re working.

Click the down arrow in the New style box in the upper right and select Invoice. In the screen that opens, enter a descriptive name for your template in the field at the top and then click Content. A graphical representation of your invoice will appear in the right pane, grayed out. It’s divided into three sections: header, footer, and table (the middle of the invoice where you describe what you sold). Each displays a small pencil icon on the right side of the screen. Click the one in the middle to make that area more visible.


It’s easy to specify which fields should appear on your invoices, what the labels should say, and how wide the space should be.

As you check and uncheck boxes to indicate what content should be included, your invoice on the right will change to reflect your actions. You can Preview PDF by clicking that button in the lower right. When you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made to all three sections, click on the Design tab.

Changing the Look

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to have QuickBooks Online forms that look attractive and consistent, which highlight your brand. The site provides tools that give you control over the appearance of your invoices, not just their content. Click each link below the Design tab to:

  • Choose a template.
  • Add your company’s logo.
  • Select a color scheme and fonts.
  • Change the printer settings to accommodate letterhead, for example.

Choosing Your Words


You have control over the messages that go out with your invoices.

Finally, click the Emails tab. Options here let you customize the emails that are sent to customers along with their invoices. Again, changes you make in the left pane will be reflected in the graphical version on the right side.

When you’ve completed all of your modifications, click Done.

We gave you this whirlwind tour of QuickBooks Online’s invoice customization options so you’d know what was possible. We expect you might need some assistance when you sit down to apply the concepts you’ve learned about to your own company’s sales forms. We’re available to help you present a polished, carefully-crafted image representing your brand to your customers.

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Are you satisfied with the image you convey to customers through your QuickBooks Online sales forms? We can help you make them more customized and effective.

You have few chances to interact directly with your customers. Make sure your QuickBooks Online sales forms convey the image you and your brand deserves.

QuickBooks Online comes with sales form templates that may work for your company, but did you know you have control over their appearance and content?

Your customers pay attention to the sales forms you produce for them. QuickBooks Online lets you improve on the default templates it provides making a better impression to your client.

Call Roe CPA, P.C. at 678-969-0523 to learn more about our services.

Are Opportunity Zones an Opportunity for You?

Executive hands indicating where to sign contractCreated by the TCJA in 2017, opportunity zones are designed to help economically distressed areas by encouraging investments. This article contains an introduction to the complex details of how these zones work.

The IRS describes an opportunity zone as “an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.” How does a community become an opportunity zone? Localities qualify as opportunity zones when they’ve been nominated by their states. Then, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury certifies the nomination. The Treasury Secretary delegates authority to the IRS.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added opportunity zones to the tax code. The IRS says opportunity zones are new, although there have been other provisions in the past to help communities in need with tax incentives to spur business.

The new wrinkle is how opportunity zones are designed to stimulate economic development via tax benefits for investors.

  • A Qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle set up as a partnership or corporation for investing in eligible property located in a qualified opportunity zone. A limited liability company that chooses to be treated either as a partnership or corporation for federal tax purposes can organize as a QOF.
  • Investors can defer taxes on any prior gains invested in a QOF until whichever is earlier: the date the QOF investment is sold or exchanged or Dec. 31, 2026.
  • If the QOF investment is held longer than five years, there is a 10 percent exclusion of the deferred gain.
  • If the QOF investment is held for more than seven years, there is a 15 percent exclusion of the deferred gain.
  • If the QOF investment is held for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible for an increase in basis on the investment equal to its fair market value on the date that the QOF investment is sold or exchanged.
  • You don’t have to live, work or have a business in an opportunity zone to get the tax benefits. But you do need to invest a recognized gain in a QOF and elect to defer the tax on that gain.
  • To become a QOF, an eligible corporation or partnership self-certifies by filing Form 8996, Qualified Opportunity Fund, with its federal income tax return.

The first set of opportunity zones covers parts of 18 states and was designated on April 9, 2018. Since then, there have been opportunity zones added to parts of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. More details are available on the U.S. Treasury website. Or see the IRS website for more information

Call Roe CPA, P.C. today at 678-969-0523 and learn why our clients would not think of using another Atlanta CPA firm for QuickBooks training and support.