109 Bedford Avenue
Bellmore, New York 11710

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

7 Tips to Better Bookkeeping for Your Business

7 Tips to Better Bookkeeping for Your Business

Good bookkeeping habits can help you and your business grow.

1. Get a professional to prepare your tax returns.  A good accountant will do more than file your returns.   They can spot holes in your bookkeeping and advise you on ways to improve your business.

2. Don’t step back and become uninvolved just because you have a bookkeeper and accountant.  Make sure you review their work.  Do the reports that they are issuing make sense to you and your business?

3. Make sure you have the right bookkeeping software.  Look for a system that matches your business needs and has an ease of use to you and your staff.

4. Document your bookkeeping processes.  Write down the procedures your bookkeeper should follow.  Make sure the job is done your way – a way that works best for you and your business.

5. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for your cash expenses.  Your credit card purchases can always be accounted for but if you lose a receipt for something you paid cash for the expense can be overlooked.  You should have a procedure for saving these receipts- notebooks to record them, folders to save them in or even a new app that helps you take pictures of them and stores them for future reference!  Try www.igeeksblog.com which list a few apps.

6. Keep track of your receivables.  Make sure you are getting paid for your invoices.  Keep either a detailed log or use a bookkeeping software that helps you keep track of invoices, payments and overdue amounts.

7. Work as a team with your accountant.  They can be a key to guiding your business on the right path and spotting potential problems before they arise.  A good accountant can help you bring your business to the next level.

Good practices bring good results!

By Chris Murphy, Senior Accounting Manager

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Steps to Take if You Suspect Identity Theft

Steps to Take if You Suspect Identity Theft

In May of this year, the IRS became the latest target of hackers, who accessed more than 100,000 taxpayer accounts.  How can you protect yourself if you suspect your identity is threatened?

The IRS recommends taking these steps:

1. File a police report.

2. Go to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

3. Contact one of the following credit bureaus to place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit report:
Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289

4. Contact your banks and credit card issuer and close any accounts that have been opened without your authorization.

5. Contact Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov to create an account and check your earnings statement annually.

6. If you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, respond immediately to any IRS notice, calling the number provided.  (Note that the IRS will contact you via US mail, NOT phone or email!)

7. Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Access form and mailing instructions here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf

8. Continue filing and paying your taxes, even if you must file by paper.

By: Honorine M. Campisi, Senior Tax Manager

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Avoid Investment Scams

How to Avoid Investment Scams

Does someone you know have the “next big thing” and want you to come on board and invest in their business or idea?  WAIT!!  Have you fully investigated all the facts?  Here are a few tips to help you avoid the wrong investment.

1. Make sure that you understand their business plan.  What are they going to do with your money?  Is there a market for what they are selling? When and how will you get to see the profits?

2. Don’t be forced into investing if you aren’t ready.  If they insist you need to invest “right now!” than you should be careful.  All investments take time to develop.  Ask questions and consult a lawyer.

3. Talk to others who have invested.  Find out if the company has met the goals they expected.  Why did they become investors?  If you cannot get this information from the business be careful.

4. Talk to the company’s lawyers.  Do they have an attorney and do they understand the business and its plan?  Do you feel better after speaking with him?  Does he put your mind at ease?

5. Ask questions!  Have they gone to a bank for a loan?  Why do they need your funds?  Who else has been approached for funds?  Why haven’t others invested?

6. Don’t be shamed into investing.  If they make you feel “silly” for asking so many questions they might have something to hide or might be hard to work with.  The lines of communication should be open and honest.

7. Don’t feel like you are missing out if you don’t invest now.  Don’t let the company tell you this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  You do not want to be caught up in spending the money that you are going to make on company profits before they exist.  Step back and resist the fear and urgency.

8. Get to really know the person and business you are investing in.  Check them out and make sure that all you find out makes sense.

9. If you are investing a sizable amount, hire your own attorney.  Find one who can help you make sure the deal is legitimate and you are protected.  They should have experience in this field.

Follow these steps to avoid becoming a victim.  Make sure you do your due diligence and remember that if something seems too good to be true it probably is!

Happy Investing!

By Chris Murphy, Senior Accounting Manager

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Are You Feeling Lucky This Summer?

Are You Feeling Lucky This Summer?

Do your summer plans include testing your luck at the racetrack or casino?  Did you realize that gambling winnings are taxable income?  Don’t let that dampen your fun.  Read on for helpful tax tips and good luck!

1.       Winnings can include winnings from raffles, lottery, casinos or horse races. 

2.       You may or may not receive a Form W-2G from the payer.  Information on that form is also   reported  to the IRS.  If you do not receive this form, you are still  required to report your winnings, so you  must maintain good records of your winnings. 

3.       If you itemize your deductions, you can partially offset some of your winnings.  Gambling losses can be deducted up to the amount of gambling income   reported on your tax return.  Unfortunately, if you claim the standard deduction, you do not get to benefit from your losses!

4.       Make tax time easier by keeping a folder with win and loss receipts, statements or tickets.

 By: Honorine M. Campisi, Senior Tax Manager

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Dependent Care Credit and Summer Camp

The Dependent Care Credit and Summer Camp

Did you know that costs for summer camp may qualify for a tax break via the Child and Dependent Care Credit?!  This credit is available for parents who pay for child care so that they can work or look for work.  Read on for great tips!

1. Filing status counts – if you are married, you must file jointly to get the credit.  You are not eligible if you are married and file separately.  There are exceptions if you are legally separated or live apart from your spouse.

2. Camp costs must be for your dependent child / children, who are under age 13 at time of care.

3. Camp costs must be incurred so that you and your spouse can work or look for work.  One spouse can be treated as working for any month that they are a full time student.

4. You and your spouse must each have earned income from wages, salaries, tips or self-employment net earnings.

5. You will need the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the camp provider.  You should save your receipts and records to make it easier to claim the credit on your tax return.

6. The amount of the tax credit is between 20% - 35% of your allowable expenses.  Your applicable percentage is based on your income.

7. There is a limit on allowable expenses of $3,000 for one qualifying child and $6,000 for two or more qualifying children.

8. The following costs do not qualify for the credit: costs for overnight camps or summer school tutoring costs, care provided by a spouse or your child who is under age 19, or care given by a person you can claim as your dependent.

9. If you or your spouse receives dependent care benefits from an employer, the amount of your allowable expenses will be reduced.

By: Honorine M. Campisi, Senior Tax Manager

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Marriage Impacts Your Finances

Find some time to discuss these topics before walking down the aisle.

1. Combine it all, keep it separate, or a little of both; consider what strategy will work best for the both of you when setting up your bank accounts.

2. A little mystery keeps things interesting – but not when it comes to your future spouse’s financial investments!  We live in an electronic world, where many of us keep our investments online with no paper trail.  Will your spouse know how to access all your accounts if something happens to you?  Many brokers no longer mail necessary tax forms and require them to be printed from their websites – make sure you both know how to gain access.

3. Know what financial baggage each of you brings to the relationship.  Do you have a huge debt to pay off, have you filed for bankruptcy, and are you up to date on required tax filings?

4. Evaluate your health – insurance, that is.  Will you combine coverage to save money, or keep separate policies?  If you have coverage through the Health marketplace, you’ll need to re-evaluate your coverage.  Consider getting new quotes for car, home or renter’s insurance, and an umbrella policy if you own a home.

5. Ask your tax advisor about adjusting your tax withholding.  Your tax situation changes once you’re married and could result in a bigger (or smaller) tax bill.  Plan ahead to make sure you know what to expect to avoid an unwelcome surprise at tax time.

6. Evaluate and maximize your retirement strategies.  Your marriage and the resulting combined income may impact your ability to continue making IRA contributions.

7. Draft your wills!  This is at the top of the list of must do’s, but understandably gets put off since no one likes to think about death.   

By: Honorine M. Campisi, Senior Tax Manager

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tax Benefits for Members of the Military

May is National Military Appreciation Month!

The IRS wants you to know about the many tax benefits available to members of the military and their families.

  1. The Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program partners with the military to provide free tax preparation to service members and their families at bases in the USA and around the world.
  2.  If a service member prepares their own return the IRS provides free electronic filing using the IRS Free File program.
  3. Combat pay is partly or fully tax free.
  4. Service members stationed abroad have until June 15th to file their federal income tax return.  Those serving in a combat zone have even longer to file their returns.  They have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file.
  5. Eligible unreimbursed moving expenses are deductible.
  6. Reservists whose duties take them more than 100 miles from home can deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses even if they don’t itemize their deductions.
  7. Low and moderate income service members often qualify for additional tax benefits such the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  8.  Low and moderate income service members who contribute to an IRA can often claim the retirement savings contributions credit. 

Feel free to call our office to find out more information!

By: Chris Murphy, Senior Accounting Manager

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who Else Is Using Your Identity?

These days it seems like everyone knows someone who has had their credit card hacked, been scammed over the phone or computer.  Even the IRS is grappling with the issue of fraud and identity theft.  According to the IRS, identity theft tax refund fraud is its number one fraud.  This happens when someone steals an individual’s personal information, files a fraudulent tax return using someone else’s social security number and has the refund deposited into their own account.  Often, the victim is unaware of what happened until they try to file their own tax return.