Monday, June 2, 2014

IRS Announces Issuance of Two Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") Electronic Publications

The IRS announced the issuance of two electronic publications containing information for individuals and families about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These one-page publications are available on the IRS website and can be used by individuals, tax professionals, health care professionals and other stakeholders for educational and outreach purposes.

Publication 5152, Report changes to the Marketplace as they happen…, discusses the importance of reporting changes in circumstances, such as family size and income changes that can affect the Premium Tax Credit, to the health insurance Marketplace.  Reporting changes can help individuals and families avoid getting too much or too little in advance credit payments.

Publication 5156, Facts about the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision, discusses what individuals need to know regarding health insurance coverage and taxes.
These two publications will supplement several earlier IRS ACA flyers:

Publication 5120 (English) and Publication 5120SP (Spanish) – Facts about the Premium Tax Credit (Flyer)

Publication 5121 (English) and Publication 5121SP  (Spanish) – Facts about the Premium Tax Credit (Tri-fold Brochure)

Publication 5093 –Health Care Law Online Resources


For legal help with your small business contact a small business and corporate attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.


IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

5 Simple Steps for Better Management

Step 1: Visualize your main story
Take a step back for the business and visualize the main business story. Imagine the ideal customer, what they want from your business, how they find you, and how what you do matches your business' unique qualities and what that specific person wants.
Don't make this hard. Don't sweat the details. You don't even have to write it down, although writing down a few key bullet points can be really valuable for reminding yourself and others, later, about strategy.
Do make it strategic. Strategy is focus, so it's a lot about what you don't do and who isn't in your market. Real business strategy has three elements mixed together: identity, which is what's unique about your business; target market, which you want to define strategically; and business offering, which should also be strategic. Who isn't in your market is as important as who is. What you aren't doing is also important. For example, if your restaurant is about a quiet, leisurely, gourmet dining experience, don't offer take-out or drive-though, and don't have kids eat free.

Step 2: Identify your main assumptions
Don't make this one hard either. Take a step back from the business for a moment, and think about the assumptions you make all the time. Are you assuming a healthy economy, for example, or strong regional growth, or good weather for growing lemons? List these key assumptions. Don't go into too much detail; you'll run into diminishing returns. What you want is a good list to help with regular review and revision (my step 5 below).

Step 3: Set your milestones and performance metrics
Milestones have to do with dates, deadlines, and specific task responsibilities. You write these down for yourself and, if you have a team, for your team members. You don't really get accountability into the business without writing down and agreeing on what's supposed to happen, when, and who is supposed to do it.
Even if you're running your own business entirely by yourself, you still list milestones so you can track progress later. I've learned the hard way on this one, both in my one-person consulting business that I ran for 14 years, and for the 50-person product business it became. If we don't write our intentions down, we lie to ourselves later about what we thought we were going to do. I hope that's just me and not you; but I doubt it.
Performance metrics add backbone and accountability. Some are about basic business performance including sales, direct costs and expenses. But many others are also valuable. For example, leads, website visitors, traffic, meals served, trainings, trips, conversion rates, orders, presentations, incoming calls, minutes per call and so forth. These key performance metrics help you stay on top of the pulse of your business.

Step 4: You need to manage your business cash
Profits alone don't guarantee cash. For example, you can be profitable, but have too much cash tied up in accounts receivable, or inventory, so you end up without enough money to make payroll or cover necessary expenses. To manage cash, you need to project sales, direct costs, expenses, extra spending (for loan repayment or buying assets and such) and extra income (from borrowing, bringing in new investment, or selling assets and so forth).
On this one too, don't try to accurately predict the future. Instead, try to lay out how sales, costs and expenses relate to each other, so later when sales are different from expectations, you have an easy time of identifying the related changes you need to expect in direct costs and make in expenses. Think of what drives sales, such as pricing, marketing expenses, traffic, conversions, leads, pipelines and so forth. And don't go into too much detail because, as with assumptions above, you'll run into diminishing returns if you do. For example, a restaurant shouldn't project sales for every menu item, but summarize and aggregate for dinners, lunches, drinks and other. And a bookstore doesn't project sales by title or author or subject, normally, but rather hard over, soft cover, magazines and other. Keep your categories manageable.

Step 5: Review, revise, repeat
Set a specific day of the month, such as every third Thursday of the month, to review results and revise as necessary. If you're working with others, make sure they know about this regular monthly meeting and miss it only when they have to miss it for good business reasons.
Start your review meeting with your list of assumptions. Identify whether assumptions have changed, and how, and what that means for your business.
Include a review of milestones for the past month, including whether or not expected milestones were reached. Then look at milestones for the next month, to review expectations and compare the milestones with the underlying assumptions.
Finally, review performance metrics. Track and manage the difference between actual performance and established expectations.

And now, lo and behold, you have a business plan
I didn't use the words "business plan" in the title or first paragraph because I don't want you to dismiss it because of the myth of the formal business plan document. Too many business owners read the words "business plan" and dismiss the idea, thinking of some hard-to-do term-paper-like formal document that they don't need unless they are applying for commercial credit, seeking investment, or dealing with issues like selling the business or managing a divorce settlement.
The real business plan, however, is as simple as these five steps. You keep this business plan fresh and up to date and it optimizes management of your company. And when you do need a formal plan, you take this real business plan and dress it up with more description and explanations for outsiders, and print it as a formal business plan document.

Original Story from SBA.gov http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-simple-steps-better-management.

For legal help with your small business contact a small business and corporate attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.


IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

June 16 Deadline Nears for Taxpayers Living Abroad

WASHINGTON — Taxpayers abroad qualifying for an automatic two-month extension must file their 2013 federal income tax returns by Monday, June 16, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The June 16 deadline applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens living overseas, or serving in the military outside the U.S. on the regular April 15 due date. Eligible taxpayers get one additional day because the normal June 15 extended due date falls on Sunday this year. To use the two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their tax return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for more information.
Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts on their federal income tax return. Separately, U.S. persons with foreign accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2013 must file electronically with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
Form 114 replaces TD F 90-22.1, the FBAR form used in the past. It is due to the Treasury Department by Monday, June 30, must be filed electronically, and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. This due date cannot be extended and tax extensions do not extend the FBAR filing due date. For details on FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
To help those with the obligation to report their foreign accounts comply with the FBAR filing requirement, the IRS will hold a free one-hour webinar on Wednesday, June 4, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Those interested in participating in the webinar must register for this event. More information is available on IRS.gov.
Taxpayers abroad can now use IRS Free File to prepare and electronically file their returns for free. This means both U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $58,000 or less can use brand-name software to prepare their returns and then e-file them for free. A second option, Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income limit and is best suited to people who are comfortable preparing their own tax return. Check out the e-file link on IRS.gov to find out more about these and other electronic filing options. E-file and Free File will be available until Oct. 15, 2014.
Taxpayers who cannot meet the June 16 deadline can get an automatic extension until Oct. 15, 2014. This is an extension of time to file, not an extension of time to pay. Interest, currently at the rate of three percent per year compounded daily, applies to any payment made after April 15, 2014. In some cases, a late payment penalty, usually 0.5 percent per month, applies to payments made after June 16, 2014.
Taxpayers abroad, regardless of income, can use Free File to request a tax-filing extension. Alternatively, eligible taxpayers can download and file Form 4868, available on IRS.gov.
In some cases, an additional extension beyond Oct. 15 may be available. Details are in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. In addition, members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan and other combat zone localities normally have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their returns and pay any taxes due. For details, see Extension of Deadlines in Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide.
Any U.S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can use the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to get answers. These online tools assemble or group IRS forms, publications and web pages by subject and provide users with a single entry point to find tax information.

For legal help with your small business contact a small business and corporate attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.


IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.