Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • May 30

    Too often natural disasters strike and serve as reminders that it’s important for both individuals and businesses to protect themselves against the potential financial consequences of such events. A few smart steps we recommend include making electronic backups of important records, including your insurance policies, tax returns, bank and credit card account information, and vital records. It is critical that you store this backup at a separate location that will be easy to access if your area suffers damage. You should also take the time to take pictures or videos of your home or business and store them separately, in case you need to make an insurance claim.

    If you run a business, you must consider how you will get up and running again after a disaster. It’s a good idea to develop contingency plans that will enable employees to work from home or elsewhere if your location is damaged or inaccessible. Both businesses and families should consider using phone trees, or other methods, to maintain contact in an emergency. Review your contact and contingency plans every year to be sure they are up to date.

  • Jun 14

    The Alabama Department of Revenue recently announced Alabama’s first annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday will be held July 6 through July 8, 2012. Alabamians are encouraged to stock up on a variety of supplies for protecting their homes or businesses during Alabama’s tornado and hurricane season’s.

    Counties and municipalities can choose to join the state by removing their own local sales and use taxes from the same items during the same weekend.

    The following list contains examples of items covered under this year’s Severe Weather Preparedness holiday.

     

    Items that have a sales price of $60 or less per item:

    ~ Batteries:  AAA-cell batteries, AA-cell batteries, C-cell batteries, D-cell batteries, 6-volt batteries, 9-volt batteries;

    ~ Cell phone battery;

    ~ Cell phone charger;

    ~ Portable self-powered or battery powered radio, two-way radio, weather-band radio or NOAA weather radio;

    ~ Portable self-powered light source, including battery powered flashlights, lanterns, or emergency glow sticks;

    ~ Tarps, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible, waterproof sheeting;

    ~ Ground anchor system, such as bungee cords or rope, or tie-down kits;

    ~ Duct tape;

    ~ Plywood, window film or other materials specifically designed to protect window coverings;

    ~ Non-electric food storage cooler or water storage container;

    ~ Non-electric can opener;

    ~ Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice;

    ~ Self-contained first aid kit;

    ~ Fire extinguisher;

    ~ Smoke detector;

    ~ Carbon monoxide detector;

    ~ Gas or diesel fuel tank or container.

     

    Items that have a sales price of $1,000 or less:

     ~ Portable generators and power cords.

     

    Beginning next year, the annual Sales Tax Holiday for Severe Weather Preparedness will be held during the last full weekend of February.

  • Oct 21

    Homeowners that retrofit their homes to help withstand hurricane and windstorm damages will be able to deduct up to $3000 from their state taxable income. At the 5 percent rate paid by most Alabamians, the maximum savings would be around $150. While $150 is not enough to re-roof a house, it is a step in the right direction to provide incentive for the homeowners that are taking the proper steps to protect their homes. The Legislators of Alabama understand that the savings available aren’t going to cover much of the improvements that would be needed on most homes, and are hoping to soon be able to add other incentives such as grants or a federal income tax deduction to help make improvements be more attainable. There is, however, an Alabama law already in place that has set a mandatory insurance discount of at least 15% for certain home improvements, such as roofs, doors and windows. 

    The Insurance Department trust funds may soon allow coastal Alabamians to retrofit their homes for hurricanes without having to personally pay for the improvements. The Strengthen Alabama Homes Fund aims to pay all the costs of storm-proofing typical homes.  The fund currently has no revenue stream, but the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Brooks, R-Mobile anticipates that fine money from the Gulf oil spill and federal grants will eventually provide the funds. The Department of Insurance will have final say on who receives the grants and how much they receive. According to Brooks, the fund would likely cover the $7,000 to $12,000 cost of a typical home retrofitting. 

    Law makers understand that at this point this new bill may take time to make an overwhelming impact upon Alabama, but are more than confident that this will benefit Alabama as a whole as time passes. The idea is that not only will homeowners begin to improve their homes to get the savings, but the construction companies as a whole will start outfitting new homes in order to meet these requirements, which will automatically make these savings available to new homeowners as well. Not only is this beneficial to the homeowners, it will also improve the insurance market as many homeowners haven’t been able to renew their wind damage policies since 2004, after Hurricane Ivan ravaged the coast. 

    In light of the recent tragedy that struck North Alabama, it is more than evident that something like this is needed to be put into effect, as the victims that were devastated by the tornados were highly concerned that insurance companies would hold the lack of preparedness against them. Due to this catastrophe, the number of canceled insurance policies has risen drastically in North Alabama. Had this bill been active before the tornados hit, the outcome may not have been the same. Not only could this bill be an opportunity to provide an insurance discount to those that take advantage of it, but it will also help Alabamians have a peace of mind in the event of possible damage to their home, as well as help homeowners to recover quicker if something does happen. 

    While this bill may not fix all the issues that are out there, in regards to this topic, it is going to be important to follow the news for the next few months and see how things progress. Because as they say, “This is only the beginning.”