Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • Aug 19

    Don’t you just love Congressional tricks?

    One of my personal “favorites” is when they cram a bunch of unrelated business into their bills.

    Which is just what happened about a year ago, and it could affect you…

    H.R. 3236, popularly known as “The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015” (yes, that’s how these things are named) brought some tax-law-related changes.

    Individual tax returns are still due on April 15th — and a six month extension period is still available. But …

    * Partnership tax returns are due March 15, NOT April 15 as in the past. If your partnership isn’t on a calendar year, the return is due on the 15th day of the third month following the close of your tax year.

    * C corporation tax returns are due April 15, NOT March 15. For non-calendar years, it is due on the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the tax year.

    * S corporation tax returns remain unchanged–they are still due March 15, or the third month following the close of the taxable year.

    On TOP of that, another doozy: audits can get you for six years now, instead of three. Without going into all of the details, essentially if you withhold reporting of 25% or more of your income, the IRS has six years to figure it out. They’ve always had unlimited time for fraud or criminality … but there was some wiggle room for underreporting in the past. No longer.

    All this (and MORE!) in one measly highway bill.

    So, it pays even more to work with a pro, yes?

    These sort of issues are what we specialize in worrying all about — so you don’t have to. Because YOU have to keep your head in a bigger picture.

    Entrepreneurs know that hard work and a great idea don’t guarantee success. Fortunately, most of them also know that failure isn’t final — almost every successful business owner client of mine has crashed and burned at least once in his/her career.

    One of the best ways to pick yourself, or your business, back up off the ground is to take a fresh look at things that you “thought” were set in stone. Here are some strategies I compiled for you to possibly give your business a fresh lease on life, come fall, or into 2017…

    Re-target your market. In the heat of start-up passion, entrepreneurs frequently try to interest too broad a market: “Everyone will want to buy this!” The result: getting lost in the crowd. The more closely you define your market, the more success you will experience.

    Re-examine your price. Price is obviously supremely important. See how you can lower your overhead or cut production costs. Perhaps there’s a new way to package your products, so that your average transaction value can go up?

    Identify and push your best product. Focus on what works. If your hot product is coffee cups, look for ways to highlight and expand that niche instead of veering into new territory. How about different colors and holders for those cups?

    Make your marketing materials more memorable. Emphasize the benefits — SPECIFICALLY how features of your product or service will improve business or the quality of life for your customer. And scrutinize your advertising. Using big media is not always the answer, especially when you have narrowed your market. Don’t overlook narrowly-targeted marketing efforts or joint promotions.

    Keep promoting! Make sure your message sinks in. Find affordable ways to reach your target market, and use these avenues as often as you can. Try social advertising!

    These ideas are to get you started. There may be longer conversations to be had. If so, that’s what we’re here for.

  • Aug 17

    18 years ago, you cradled him in your arms– the most beautiful baby ever born. You’ve nurtured him, instructed him, helped him grow, and now it’s time for him to test his wings… at the south’s biggest party school. (You do know that’s a real ranking, right?) Away from home. Away from your supervision. You don’t really want to think about “what if?” What if something happens while he’s away at college?

    Once college students reach the age of majority (18 in most states), they are considered adults, and you, as their parents, are not entitled to see their medical records, their grades, their finances, or other documents. You’d think, since you’re the one footing the bills, paying the tuition, the room and board, and just about everything else, your parental rights would continue. But they don’t. Once a student reaches that magic age, they have a right to legal privacy and the right to govern their own affairs. So, it’s important to discuss with your children ways you can act on their behalf — or help protect them —  should an emergency arise.

    Set up ICE (in case of emergency) contacts. Go ahead. Get Junior in here right now. Well, ok, next time you’re both home at the same time. Put ICE by the names of the people you’d want him to call in case of an emergency. Or maybe it’s not him calling; maybe it’s the police, fire department, or rescue workers trying to reach out to someone. According to WebMD, if Junior is in an accident and can’t call, a first responder can call an ICE contact on his cell phone to let a loved one know what has happened. You can have multiple ICE contacts… ICE, ICE2, ICE3, and so on.

    ICE contacts don’t give someone the legal authority to act on the student’s behalf, it merely starts the communication process.

    Prepare a health care durable power of attorney or healthcare proxy. Although accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, it doesn’t take something that severe for parents to need to be involved. When Kathy was away at Ole Miss, some 315 miles away, she developed an intestinal bug which landed her in the infirmary. We rushed to get there only to find out the doctors refused to discuss her condition with us, citing privacy concerns.

    As much as you hope you’ve prepared them to take care of themselves, and as much as they think they are ready, you are still likely to be their fallback for emergencies. A health care durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to serve as his/her health care agent. Students should also sign a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release that gives medical practitioners permission to share information with you.

    Have a durable power of attorney. For most students, the benefit of a power of attorney is to enable their parents to assist them with credit card payments or deal with a landlord, but yes, it should give you access to their financial and scholastic records at college. In most cases it goes into effect when signed, but can be revoked at any time.

     

    How do you get Junior to sign if he’s still thinking you don’t have a clue? Try gentle persuasion first. If that doesn’t work you can consider making it a condition of paying tuition, or buying the car, or whatever.