Year-End Tax Planning Gives You the Advantage

Make Tax Planning Part of Your Year End

…in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.  – Benjamin Franklin

Filing and paying annual income taxes may be an integral part of doing business, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it, nor pay more than your fair share. Whether you face the task with acceptance, resignation, or dread, you know it’s inevitable once the year ends, and you close your books. The question is, when do you start to address your year-end tax planning?

Running a successful business means keeping abreast of new rules, laws, regulations, and lately, mandates which impact not only costs, but how you manage both day to day, and long-term activities. You have enough on your plate without trying to keep up with the changing environment for income taxes too.

Your customers or clients depend on you to be the expert in your field. Call on HKMP to keep you abreast of changes in tax laws which impact you both positively and negatively, allowing you to focus on your own areas of expertise, while protecting your business interests, and cash flow. Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of HKMP’s expertise to review your books and records prior to year-end, and advise you of opportunities to minimize your tax liability. Our knowledge and experience will ensure you make informed decisions like scheduling expansion, and major purchases in years when tax laws are more favorable.

Take Advantage of the Right Timing

Timing is everything. Whether it’s capital investments, year-end bonuses, hiring, or inventory, you want to make informed decisions. In many of these areas, you’re already doing your research, and mapping out a plan before reaching final decisions. Yet all too often, the impact on both your current and future tax liability is overlooked. In many ways, it’s as important as ROI.

One area which has seen significant change over the last 40 years or so is depreciation. Not only have Section 179 limits changed over the years, but so have limits on first-year depreciation. Looking back, a mere 13 years, the Section 179 limit has grown from $250,000 in 2008 to $1,050,000 in 2021. Not all years have seen increases, but don’t you want the option of deciding whether to escalate or delay a major purchase if the limit increases the following year?

Many companies experienced decreased revenue, and increased costs for the last two years thanks to COVID. As you prepare your budget for 2022, knowing how those costs will affect both actual and projected net income will keep more money in your pocket. Better still, you’ll have more money to spend on the original dream with which you launched your business in the first place.

Year-end tax planning areas

Protect Your Investments With Year-End Tax Planning

Would you wait until January of February to create next year’s budget? Probably not, as you know you’d start the year blind to objectives and opportunities. You don’t wait until January or February to start making estimated tax payments either, as you don’t want your cash flow to take one, large hit. You certainly haven’t achieved your current level of success by ignoring the numbers, or failing to see how they measure up to your projections and expectations.

Tax laws can be shark-infested waters. If you’re unprepared, they can bite off far more than you’re willing, or even able at times, to give. Knowing there’s an expert ready to take the wheel and guide you through those waters unscathed protects your assets, leaving you free to focus your attention and resources on the present challenges, and future opportunities.

Ask yourself this. If your dream was important enough to create a plan, and map out at least part of the route to making it a reality, isn’t it equally important to allocate time, energy, and resources to protect what you’ve built?

Scout Ahead to Minimize Setbacks

To put it simply, year-end tax planning is the security team’s scout who heads out before dawn to ensure the way forward is clear of perils and pitfalls. He alerts you to blocked roads, washed out bridges, and potential ambushes, giving you time to set up defenses, and re-map your route. Without him, you’d walk right into those ambushes, or find yourself mired in quicksand, causing expensive delays and missed opportunities. Clearly, the money you spend on his services will be recouped many times over.

You could choose to fly by the seat of your pants, hoping your business grows, and thrives. You can navigate the expensive mistakes, in the belief they’re simply a cost of doing business. Or you can build a team which includes people who are there to protect what you’ve built, and clear the way forward. I’m guessing you didn’t take unnecessary chances when you first started out, nor did you try to do more than you had to by yourself.

If you’re ready to clear a few obstacles from your path, HKMP is the scout you need to navigate the tax waters, and avoid the sharks.

Tax Considerations When Retiring In Another State

Moving to another state is a key part of many peoples’ retirement plans. However, not everyone takes in to account all of the tax considerations when retiring in another state.

Some couples want to enjoy better weather so they can participate in more outdoor activities, such as those living up north who decide to relocate to Florida or Arizona. Others want to be closer to family members who may live far away.

Some retirees decide to move to lower their tax burden. There are seven states where individual income is not subject to state tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. And New Hampshire and Tennessee only assess state taxes on dividends and interest.

Identify All Applicable Taxes

It might seem like a no-brainer to simply move to a state with no personal income tax. To ensure you make a good decision, you must consider all taxes that can potentially apply to a state resident. In addition to income taxes, these may include property taxes, sales taxes and estate taxes.

If you’re considering moving to a state that does not have personal income tax, look closely at what types of income are taxed. Some states don’t tax wages but do tax interest and dividends, as noted above. And some states offer tax breaks for pension income and retirement plan and Social Security distributions.

For example, distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs and pensions are exempt from state tax in Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. However pension, but not 401(k) or IRA, income, is exempt from state tax in Alabama and Hawaii.

Watch Out For State Estate Tax

The federal estate tax currently doesn’t apply to many people. For 2021, the federal estate tax exemption is $11.7 million (or $23.4 million for a married couple). But some states levy additional estate taxes with a much lower exemption. Some may also have an inheritance tax in addition to (or in lieu of) an estate tax.

Establish Domicile In Your New State

If you make a permanent move to a new state and want to escape taxes in the state you came from, it’s important to establish legal domicile in the new location. The definition of legal domicile varies from state to state. In general, your domicile is your fixed and permanent home location and the place where you plan to return, even after periods of residing elsewhere.

Each state has its own rules regarding domicile. You don’t want to wind up in a worst-case scenario: Two states could claim you owe state income taxes if you established domicile in the new state but didn’t successfully terminate domicile in the old one. Additionally, if you die without clearly establishing domicile in just one state, both the old and new states may claim that your estate owes state income taxes and any applicable state estate tax.

The more time that elapses after you move to a new state and the more steps you take to establish domicile in the new state, the harder it will be for your old state to claim that you’re still domiciled there for tax purposes. Some ways to help lock in domicile in a new state include:

  • Buy or lease a home in the new state and sell your home in the old state (or rent it out at market rates to an unrelated party).
  • Change your mailing address at the post office.
  • Change your address on passports, insurance policies, your will or living trust and other important documents.
  • Register to vote, get a driver’s license and register your vehicle in the new state.
  • Open and use bank accounts in the new state and close accounts in the old one.

Also, if an income tax return is required in the new state, file a resident return and file a nonresident return or no return (whichever is appropriate) in your old state. We can help with these returns.

Make an Informed Choice

Before deciding where you want to live in retirement, do your research and contact your tax professional. We can help you better understand the tax considerations when retiring in another state. This will allow you to avoid unpleasant tax surprises that could be very costly.

Advantages of Outsourced Accounting You Can’t Ignore

Outsourcing certain business functions to third-party service providers is not a new concept. Businesses have been outsourcing functions like payroll, IT and human resources for years.  

However, many companies haven’t given much thought to outsourcing their accounting and finance functions. Doing so can result in a host of benefits — including freeing up your team to spend more time on tasks that add strategic value to the organization. 

Who Typically Outsources Their Accounting Function & Why? 

Often the best candidates are companies whose growth trajectory requires that they begin to think bigger, better define their place in the market and how they’re going to move forward. They need better financial clarity but might not be able to afford full-time financial and accounting professionals. These organizations need expertise related to their industry and would benefit from knowledgeable consultants who can offer comprehensive solutions to complex hurdles facing the business. 

Outsourced accounting also works well for leaders who find themselves spending too much time in the business processes and not enough time working on long-term strategic planning. This can lead to a number of problems, including misaligned directives, unchecked risk exposure, a lack of focus and direction, and a limited ability to pursue business growth opportunities. 

More Advantages of Outsourced Accounting 

In addition to freeing up executives to spend more time on high-level strategic planning activities, your company could realize a number of other advantages of outsourced accounting to a third-party service provider that specializes in this. These include the following: 

  • Saving time and money — Compared to hiring, training and maintaining an internal department, outsourcing your accounting and financial work is not only more cost effective, but also solves business capacity issues. Outsourcing can lower your total costs by eliminated expenses related to employee benefits, training and technology/software costs while redirecting valuable time back to growing your business.  
  • Anytime, anywhere access to financial data — Use of the leading-edge cloud accounting technology will allow you to close your books quicker and give you real-time reporting. You’ll gain visibility into your financial health with access to financial data and records anytime, anywhere. 
  • Improved operational efficiency and processes — Outsourcing your day-to-day activities such as billing, payroll and month-end close will free up valuable time to focus on business goals and growth. Rather than chasing after unpaid invoices or manually cutting checks, you can automate these processes and streamline operations.  
  • Access to expert financial resources — It’s challenging to find and retain staff that have the knowledge and expertise in all areas of your accounting and finance function. Additionally, it’s hard enough trying to juggle the responsibilities of running a business and managing the staff. Outsourcing to a team of virtual accountants ensures your financial records are accurate and up to date, giving you the confidence to make decisions about the future without a lot of oversight on your part.    
  • Reduced risk of fraud — Maintaining proper internal controls to protect against fraud, theft and human error is required for any accounting and finance function. If you are leaning on just a few people to fill multiple roles, this puts your business at higher risk. By outsourcing, you can have a clear separation of duties and greater oversight to mitigate these risks.  
  • Greater peace of mind — If your accounting and finance operations are in order, risks of potential threats are low and visibility into the financial health is readily available, this can put your mind at ease and help you focus more on your overall business strategy.  

Additional advantages of outsourced accounting and finance function are stronger planning and execution. This will result in better decision making, improved direction and tactical outcomes, and higher profitability. 

Fit is Crucial 

When searching for a provider, look for a partner — a firm capable of establishing a relationship with the right levels of communication and trust. 

Also, business owners should look for industry experience and a firm that has a suite of advisory offerings that can complement the accounting and finance functions. A company’s services can be enhanced by the firm’s expertise in these areas, putting more eyes on the business, which leads to more proactive advice. 

Fit is crucial because business owners need to have a strong relationship with their service provider. Trust between the provider and owner is critical in order to eliminate the need for an owner’s day-to-day oversight. But that shouldn’t eliminate the need for the owner’s participation, as their input is key to making financially sound business decisions. 

5 Questions All Leaders Should Ask To Assess Cybersecurity Risk

The Cost of a Data Breach

A study conducted by IBM last year, The 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, put a price tag on data breaches. According to the study, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. Also, 80 percent of data breaches resulted in the exposure of customers’ personally identifiable information, which is the most expensive type of breach to remedy.

Stolen or compromised employee credentials and cloud misconfigurations are the most common causes of data breaches, with 40 percent of breaches caused by these incidences. Misconfigured cloud networks increased data breach costs by half-a-million dollars, according to the study.

Cybersecurity Starts at the Top

Statistics like these make it clear that cybersecurity should be an important part of every organization’s operating plan. Ensuring a well-protected network starts at the top.

Here are five key questions leadership should ask to assess cybersecurity risk:

Question #1: Is your executive leadership informed about cyber risks that threaten the company?

Cybersecurity is about managing risk. A breach can have dire consequences. This makes managing cybersecurity risk a critical part of an organization’s governance, risk management and business continuity framework. Early response actions can limit or even prevent possible damage. Accordingly, timely reporting to leadership should be built into the strategic framework for managing the enterprise. The CEO, CIO, business leaders, continuity planners, system operators, general counsel and public affairs should be part of the chain of communications.

Question #2: What is our exposure to cyber risk, the potential impact of a breach and our plan for addressing both?

Identifying critical assets and associated impacts from cyber threats is critical to understanding your specific risk exposure. These will most likely be a combination of financial, competitive, reputational ando/or regulatory risks. Risk assessment results are key to identifying and prioritizing specific protective measures, allocating resources, informing long-term investments and developing policies and strategies to manage cyber risks at an acceptable level.

Question #3: How does our cybersecurity program apply industry standards and best practices?

A comprehensive cybersecurity program leverages industry standards and best practices to protect systems, detect potential problems and enable timely response and recovery. Compliance requirements help to establish a good cybersecurity baseline to address known vulnerabilities. However, they do not adequately address new and dynamic threats or sophisticated adversaries. Using a risk-based approach to apply cybersecurity standards and practices allows for more comprehensive and cost-effective management of cyber risks than compliance activities alone.

Question #4: How many cyber incidents is normal for us? At what point should executive leadership be informed?

Executive engagement in defining the risk strategy and levels of acceptable cyber risk enables close alignment with the business needs of the organization. Regular communication between leaders and those held accountable for managing cyber risks provides awareness of current threats, security gaps and associated business impact. Analyzing, aggregating and integrating risk data from various sources and participating in threat information sharing with partners helps organizations identify and respond to incidents quickly. Ensuring that protective efforts are commensurate with risk.

A good way to establish updated security protocols is to have an assessment of your network. This can show you where you stand and provide insights to a solid plan of action.

Question #5: How comprehensive is our cyber incident response plan? How often is it tested?

Even a well-defended organization will experience a cyber incident at some point. When network defenses are penetrated, the leadership group should be prepared with a Plan B. Documented cyber incident response plans that are exercised regularly help enable timely response and minimize impacts.

Devise a Cybersecurity Plan Now

When it comes to cybercrime and data breaches, it’s not a question of if, but when. Now is the time to devise a plan for how your organization will deal with a data breach when one occurs.

Meet with your key leaders use the questions to assess cybersecurity risk. If you don’t have adequate answers, commit to doing whatever it takes to get answers before your organization is the victim of a data breach.

Succession Planning Strategies: 5 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Business

1. What Are Your Post-Business Ownership Plans?

How much thought have you given to what you’re going to do after you sell your business? Maybe you plan to retire and take it easy for a while. If so, you should work closely with a professional wealth advisor to develop a detailed retirement financial plan to help ensure that you have sufficient resources to support your desired retirement lifestyle.

Or maybe you want to start another company after you sell your existing business. In this case, you’ll want to make sure that the proceeds from the sale of your business are sufficient to launch your new venture.

2. To Whom Will You Sell The Business?

Business buyers usually fall into one of two broad categories: internal buyers or external buyers. An internal buyer may be your existing employees or management team. In this case, the business sale could be conducted via an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) or management buyout (MBO). Or it could be family members if yours is a family-run business.

There are two main types of external buyers: financial buyers and strategic buyers. Financial buyers, such as private equity groups, look for companies with high growth potential. This way, in the future, they can sell your company at a profit to reap a return on their investment. Strategic buyers, meanwhile, seek businesses whose products or services complement their own, such as a competitor. This kind of merger can help the buyer gain market share by acquiring your customer base and consolidating operations.

3. How Can You Add Value To The Business Before Putting It On The Market?

The best way to boost the eventual sale price of your business is to focus on key business value drivers today. These are things you can do now to make your business more valuable in the eyes of buyers while reducing potential risks.

For example, are your corporate records, contracts and other legal documents all current and in good standing? Are your financial statements accurate and current and is your technology up to date? Have you developed a seasoned and experienced management team that’s prepared, and financially incentivized, to help ensure a smooth transition to new ownership? Most importantly, is there a realistic business growth plan in place that will enable buyers to realize positive ROI on their investment?

4. How Much Is Your Business Worth?

This is the proverbial $64,000 question. Many owners think they have a good idea of what their business is worth based on their gut instinct. But this value often isn’t realistic. Most owners have an emotional connection to their business and tend to over-value the sweat equity they’ve put into building it.

Buyers will look at your business from a purely numbers and analytical approach. The main thing they’re looking at is the quality of business earnings and how repeatable these earnings are in the future. It might make sense to engage a valuation professional to conduct a quality of earnings study to estimate the future cash flow potential of the business and come up with at least a rough business valuation.

5. Who Will Form Your Business Advisory Team?

Selling a business is a lengthy and complex process that requires high-level expertise. You should begin forming a business advisory team that includes the following:

  • An investment banking firm to market your business.
  • A valuation professional to help you gauge business value and determine the selling price.
  • An experienced M&A attorney.
  • A Tax advisor
  • who specializes in the sale of closely held businesses.

Even if you’re not planning to sell anytime soon, it’s still smart to go ahead and start the succession planning for your business now. This way, you’ll be ahead of the game when you’re ready to exit the business one day down the road.