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The Internal Revenue Service recently unveiled a draft version of Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The revised form is in response to changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and aims to provide simplicity, accuracy and privacy for employees while minimizing burden for employers and payroll processors. It is open for review and feedback until July 1, 2019. 

We want to remind our clients that this is only a draft and the new form will not be used until 2020. However, we are closely following this and will continue to provide updates. Below is a high-level summary of what we know so far.

What’s being proposed? The new form will account for:

The final draft is expected to be released mid-to-late July. We will continue to monitor changes to Form W-4 and keep you abreast. In the meantime, we encourage taxpayers to make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks and thus avoid a larger tax bill next year. Taxpayers with major life changes, including marriage or a new child, should especially check their withholding amounts. 

Determining how much to withhold depends on your unique financial situation. The professionals at Hamilton Tharp can help, call us today for a paycheck checkup.

The Qualified Opportunity Zone Program has kept many investors paralyzed in uncertainty due to regulatory confusion. In the update below, we provide an overview of the highly sought-after guidance, which was recently released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Treasury Department… We have put together the following high-level overview of the 169-page guidance and will explain how the new clarifications will impact investors.

First let’s recap: Opportunity Zone Program

Definition

Eligibility

Considerations

Challenges

The original Opportunity Zone legislation left eager investors with more questions then answers. Below are some of the challenges that the guidance addresses.

Further Clarification

Below are a few of the key clarifications giving investors the confidence to move forward:

The IRS also provided several situations where deferred gains may become taxable. If an investor transfers their interest in a QOF, e.g., if the transfer is done by gift, the deferred gain may become taxable. However, inheritance by a surviving spouse is not a taxable transfer, nor is a transfer, upon death, of an ownership interest in a QOF to an estate or a revocable trust that becomes irrevocable upon death.

We encourage you to read the update in its entirety as it includes additional guidance on the term “original use,” and addresses all the issues mentioned above. If you are still hesitant about moving forward with this investment opportunity, the professionals in our office can help provide clarity, address your concerns and answer any specific questions you may have.

Payroll fraud can put a huge dent in your bottom line – costing companies billions of dollars annually. Unfortunately, companies are often unaware that a corrupt employee is in their midst. According to data from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner’s (ACFE) 2016 global fraud study, Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, payroll fraud is an especially high risk for small organizations. In the United States, 131 cases of payroll fraud, representing 12.6% of all asset misappropriation schemes, were reported in 2016. While most fraud is uncovered within one fiscal year, payroll fraud tends to fly under the radar for an average of two years before detection and on average costs companies $90,000 per occurrence.

As business advisors, we stress the importance of internal controls to prevent fraud and theft and to ensure the accuracy of accounting data. However, many situations still exist in which organizations fail to establish adequate control systems to reduce transaction costs for many reasons. Whether it is a lack of information or a lack of personnel, the fact of the matter is that payroll fraud is usually perpetrated by a single or multiple insiders. The following strategies can help prevent and detect payroll fraud in your organization.

This is one of the most effective strategies, and if you do not already have one, we strongly recommend implementing processes that regularly check for schemes. Consider specialized software that combats ghost employee tactics by looking for red flags such as duplicate Social Security numbers, addresses or direct-deposit accounts. Another step is to be transparent with your audit plan. Making employees aware that you conduct such audits may be enough to deter them.

Compare payroll numbers against output. A spike in overtime hours during a slow month, for example, should prompt further investigation. We can help you analyze your data and identify any red flags.

This will prevent incompatible functions from being performed by the same individual, especially in the accounting department. Ask your payroll company if they allow multiple people to be in the authorization chain of command. Most payroll companies allow for multiple recipients of payroll reports; be sure you send final reports to an outside accountant and the owner.  If one employee handles payroll, we recommend hiring an outside person to input the information into the accounting system, acting as the internal control.

Check documents such as timecards and any other payroll documentation. You should be on the lookout for employees who are claiming excess hours and overtime as well as any other items that seem suspect. If employees know you are regularly checking time cards, they will be less likely to test the waters.

These are often overlooked. Make sure you collect the right documentation when adding new employees. Equally important is following protocol for terminated employees. While failure to remove a terminated employee from payroll is not fraud, controls will help you avoid the embarrassment of paying an employee after termination.

If you have concerns about payroll fraud in your organization, please call one of our professionals today. 

Have you ever stopped to think about whether outsourcing financial management functions of your business would benefit your organization?

You will probably be surprised how many activities they encompass and how vital they are to the success of your company. Your business thrives when these activities are in order. When faced with the options, a business owner quickly realizes that either they will need to manage their organization’s finances or hire someone else to do it.

Financial planning, financial risk assessment, record-keeping, and financial reporting are time-consuming cogs in the wheel of a functional business and are best managed by someone who has the right qualifications. But the fact of the matter is, CFOs cost money, and most small businesses do not have forty hours of work for a qualified individual. Rightly dividing resources within an organization is a critical matter, which is why outsourcing CFO services makes a lot of sense.

What is an outsourced CFO?

An Outsourced CFO is a valuable partner that can:

Beyond these critical finance utilities, an Outsourced CFO can deliver expert “back office” support to organizations so they can focus on growing their business. The finance function can be broken up into three main activities, each with a series of sub-functions.

  1. Transaction processing – accounts receivable, customer billing, credit and collections, accounts payable, general accounting, payroll, tax accounting, cost accounting, fixed asset accounting, benefits administration, and internal and external reporting
  2. Control and risk management – budgeting, cash flow management, insurance risk management, forecasting, tax planning, performance reporting, treasury management, and internal and external audit
  3. Decision support – business performance analyses (ratio analysis, cost analysis, pricing analysis), business planning support, and finance function management 

Is it time to consider outsourcing?

Determining whether to outsource requires a focused and deliberate approach.  Below are six advantages that will help you decide whether outsourcing financial management would benefit your organization:

Before determining whether to outsource financial management functions, there are many factors to consider including the size of your business, industry, number of employees, volume of transactions, and skill sets.

As a business owner, accepting the “virtual” reality of outsourcing means adjusting your expectations. In this environment, you will not be your CFOs only client, but you will have access to exceptional quality. If you are involved in the authorization process and can extend trust beyond your four walls, then you will truly benefit from this arrangement. However, if you are hung up on signing checks and are not able to hand over responsibilities, you will hinder the process and negate the experience.

Outsourcing services from your organization may enable you to operate more effectively.  With our requisite knowledge of different types of organizational structures, we can help you create innovative changes in your organization.  If you would like to learn more, please call our office to speak with one of our professionals and learn how you can enhance the success of your business.

Learn more about our outsourced CFO services by clicking here.