Small Business Accounting Advice

What the CARES Act Means for Your Business

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, is a $2 trillion stimulus bill that was signed on March 27. This historic government funding dwarfs the two rescue packages from the Great Recession. It is aimed at supporting large and small businesses, industries, individuals, families, gig workers, independent contractors, and hospitals. But, its hefty price tag, quick signing, and less than stellar rollout have left many individuals and businesses wondering how it will relieve their burdens.

1. Paycheck Protection and Loan Forgiveness

The Paycheck Protection Program offers guaranteed loans of up to 250 percent your monthly payroll average, based on your previous year’s numbers. This loan is designed to allow you to continue to pay your workers during these difficult times. If your business is eligible, you can obtain this loan anytime between February 15 and June 30.

The portion of the Payment Protection loan spent on payroll, rent, mortgage, interest, or utilities is also forgivable by the SBA as long as all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks. Any portion of the loan that is unforgivable will be treated as a two-year loan with a 1% interest rate. However, payments on this amount will be deferred for 6 months. While the current Paycheck Protection Program funds have been accounted for and are set for distribution, Congress is working diligently to provide additional funds to continue offering the program to assist businesses.

2. Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are also being extended. Individuals that can qualify for unemployment now include those diagnosed with COVID-19, have a household member with the disease, are caring for someone with the disease, or are quarantined due to the disease. It also applies to individuals who cannot go to work due to coronavirus, is unable to begin their job, has become a widower of someone who was diagnosed with coronavirus and was the primary money maker, someone who quit due to coronavirus, and if your business closed. In addition, gig workers and self-employed workers are also covered under the CARES Act.

3. Penalty-Free 401(k) Withdrawals

Typically, if you’re younger than 59 1/2, the IRS slaps you with a 10% penalty when you withdraw money from your 401(k). But under the CARES Act, you can withdraw up to $100,000 penalty-free during the 2020 fiscal year to ease financial hardships caused by the coronavirus.

Withdrawal will still be subject to your ordinary income tax rate, but instead of paying the lump sum this year, you can disburse payments over a three-year term.

4. Employee Retention Credit

To encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll during the slowdown, the IRS is offering a refundable 50% tax credit of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer.

An eligible employer is defined by a business that is temporarily suspended in any form due to coronavirus, or that is making less than half its average revenue.

Employers can immediately claim the tax credit by withholding taxes that they would otherwise deposit each quarter. If credits exceed their tax liability, then employers can file a Form 7200 to receive an advance refund.

5. Employer Payroll Tax Delays

Ordinarily, business owners collect 6.2% of their employees’ wages for Social Security Tax and then match their contribution dollar for dollar. But the CARES Act allows employers to delay paying their portion of payroll tax in full until December 31, 2022, with at least 50% being due by December 31, 2021.

It is important to note that all businesses are approved for the deferral, but if you receive a loan under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, you will not be eligible.

6. Paid Leave

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, businesses with fewer than 500 employees will receive tax credits for the cost of providing paid leave to employees if taken for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

The tax credit will reimburse employers for 100% of the employee’s salary and health insurance costs. Employers will also face no payroll tax liability for the paid leave.

Final Thoughts

Don’t try to navigate these muggy waters all by yourself. Working with a tax and accounting expert is the best way to make sure you take advantage of the new stimulus package. If you have additional questions regarding the CARES Act, we recommend you visit the IRS’s page for Business Tax Relief

A CPA sitting at a desk with financial forms in front of him

Going out for Bids: When Cheaper Isn’t Better

Many companies and organizations are required to undergo some type of attestation service each year (compilation, review, or audit). As part of this process, many times bids are solicited from different firms in order to find the best deal, which, from a Board Member’s perspective, usually means the cheapest price. As a former Board Member and Treasurer of Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity, I understand the desire to cut expenses as much as possible. However, cheaper is usually not better. In order to perform attest services in Texas, a CPA firm must enroll in the AICPA Peer Review Program and be subject to an independent review of their attestation practice every three years. As a Peer Reviewer through the Texas Society of CPA’s and the AICPA, I see firsthand how many firms will charge significantly less for the same service but not perform the work in accordance with professional standards. Therefore, when going out for bids, I recommend that Board Members perform the following due diligence in order to make sure they are getting a high-quality CPA firm:

1. AICPA Peer Review Public Report

Obtain a copy of the firm’s most recent peer review report from the AICPA Peer Review Public File. A CPA firm can receive either a pass, pass with deficiencies, or fail report. Both the pass with deficiencies and fail reports are considered to be substandard and require corrective action by the firm.

2. Industry Relevant Experience

Ask the firm how much experience they have in the particular industry they are bidding on. Is this their only attestation service in this area? In addition, is this an area that requires specialized knowledge (specifically employee benefit plans or Single Audits)?

3. Check For Corrective Action or Monitoring

Is the firm currently undergoing any kind of corrective action or monitoring by the State Society or State Board of Public Accountancy?

4. Continuing Education

What kind of continuing education does the attestation personnel receive each year?
Expertise You Can Trust
Bumgardner Morrison is a full-service CPA firm that performs attestation services to clients of many different industries including employee benefit plans, electric cooperatives, financial institutions, non-profit organizations, nonpublic companies, and governmental entities. Three of our partners perform peer reviews on other CPA firms throughout the State of Texas. Please contact us today if you would like more information on any of the services that we provide.
Calculator in a tax form with a pen pointing to tax implications

8 Things You Should Do To Prepare For The 2020 Tax Season

It’s hard to believe that the end of the year is upon us. If you are like most people, then you are probably focused on the holidays and spending time with family and friends. Taxes are the furthest thing from your mind. While it’s fine to take a few moments to focus on the finer things in life, at some point, you will need to consider your taxes. The sooner you think about them, the less stress you’ll have to deal with later. After the New Year, it won’t be long before tax season is upon us. To get ready for the 2020 tax season, there are eight things you can do now to prepare.

1. Get Organized

Having all of your tax information in one place that is easy to access will be beneficial when the 2020 tax season rolls around. You’ll have an idea of what your income and spending was, and you’ll be able to tell if you are missing any important documents. Getting organized will make the tax filing process go faster, smoother, and more accurately so that you can get on with your life. As part of your organization process, make sure you are holding onto receipts and other necessary documents to track your deductions. This could include medical bills, donations, local tax payments, travel expenses, mileage, or retirement contributions. It’s always better to have more documentation, so pull together everything you have and keep it in a file or folder that is easy to find and access.

2. Read Up on the New Tax Laws

With new tax laws taking effect, this could have an impact on how you file your return. To reduce the surprise and shock when you are getting your taxes done, take a few moments to read the new information. You may not be able to understand it all, but if you have a basic idea, you’ll know what questions you need to ask a tax professional so that you are aware of exactly how these new rules will impact you. Most importantly, make sure your accountant is up to date on these new laws.

3. Adjust Your Withholding

After you read about the new tax laws, you should then take the time to adjust your withholdings. In the past, many people were expecting to get refunds, only to find out that they owed because they weren’t having enough taken out of their checks. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are unsure how much you should be withholding, you can head to the IRS website for assistance or talk to a professional accountant.

4. Add to Your Retirement Account

In addition to checking your withholding amount, now is a good time to also look at your retirement accounts. Not only do you want to make sure that you have enough money to be comfortable when the time comes to retire, but adding to your retirement account comes with additional tax benefits. If you have a traditional retirement account, you can contribute to it without any tax penalties.

5. Plan Your Write-offs

If you know that you will be able to itemize or if you have business expenses that you can deduct, then it’s a good idea to start planning your write-offs in advance. Preparing your deductions ahead of time will not only save you the headache later on but also can assist you in making wiser purchasing options as the year comes to an end. For example, you can purchase and write-off new equipment costs instead of taking the depreciation method that is most often used. But first, to know that you are making the right decision, you might consider consulting with a tax professional.

6. Consider Your Liabilities

Liabilities can be confusing when it comes to your taxes. Whether you are expecting a year-end bonus or get high capital gains from a mutual fund, knowing this in advance will help you calculate taxes and what you may be expected to pay. Since you don’t want to get surprised with a high tax bill in April, taking this step now will help you prepare for the 2020 tax season.

7. Pay Your Taxes on a Quarterly Basis

To save yourself from potentially having to pay a considerable amount when tax season rolls around, you might consider estimating and paying your taxes every quarter. This could save you from any stress or surprises that may arise in April. It also allows you to plan for and make more affordable payments throughout the year. The best way to accomplish this task is to look at the previous year’s records, including the number of deductions, taxable income, and credits, among others you recorded. You also have the option of talking to an accounting professional to help with this step in the preparation process.

8. Work with a Professional Accountant

It has been mentioned several times throughout this article that you have the option of working with a professional. As a way to get prepared for the 2020 tax season, this may be in your best interest. Not only will they be able to answer any financial questions that you might have, but they’ll be able to tell you exactly what you’ll need to make filing your taxes pain-free, error-free and efficient.
It’s Never Too Early
You may not be focused on tax season at the moment, thinking that you want to get through the holidays first. However, time goes by fast, and before you know it, it will be April and time to file with the IRS. Don’t put off thinking about your taxes or getting prepared for the 2020 tax season for too much longer. The sooner you get this done, the less you have to stress about. One of the reasons taxes are so hard for people to deal with is because they don’t know what to expect. By getting ready now, you’ll have an idea if you have to pay or if you are owed. You’ll also know if you have all of the information you need to file your taxes accurately. If you don’t, you’ll have plenty of time to track down the documentation. Working with a tax expert and being organized is the best way to reduce stress and be prepared for the 2020 tax season, as well as those to come.  At Bumgardner Morrison, we’re here to assist with your accounting services needs in Victoria, TX. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to get ahead of this tax season!