Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Under the Corporate Transparency Act

Serious millennial man using laptop sitting at the table in a home office, focused guy in casual clothing looking at the paper, communicating online, writing emails, distantly working or studying on computer at home.What is Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting?

Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) reporting is a federal requirement by the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). BOI reports include information about all the company’s beneficial owners.

Who is considered a Beneficial Owner?

A beneficial owner is any individual who, directly or indirectly, exercises substantial control over a reporting company or owns or controls at least 25 percent of the company’s ownership interests.

What is the Corporate Transparency Act?

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is a United States federal law that aims to increase transparency in corporate ownership. The law requires that individuals considered beneficial company owners in the U.S. provide the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) with specific information.

For individuals, that includes:

  • their full name
  • date of birth
  • current residential address
  • a federally issued identification number from a driver’s license or passport

For companies, that includes:

  • legal entity name or DBA name
  • business address
  • state jurisdiction of formation of registration
  • IRS TIN

Any changes to the above reporting information must be updated with the FinCEN within 30 days of the change.

What is considered a Reporting Company?

Companies required to report a BOI are referred to as reporting companies. There are two types of reporting companies: domestic and foreign. They are defined as follows:

  1. Domestic reporting companies are corporations, limited liability companies (LLC), and other entities created by filing a document with a secretary of state or similar office in the U.S.
  2. Foreign reporting companies are entities (including corporations and LLCs) formed under a foreign country’s law and registered to do business in the U.S. by filing a document with a secretary of state or similar office.

There are 23 types of entities that are exempt from the reporting requirements. Those entities can be found on the FinCEN website.

What is the Reporting Process?

The reporting process takes place via an online portal on the FinCEN’s website. Filing begins January 1, 2024, with an initial filing window of one year (i.e., initial BOI reporting can be done from January 1, 2024, through January 1, 2025). The FinCEN will not accept BOI reporting before January 1, 2024. There is no fee for submitting this information.

New entities established after December 31, 2023, must report within 90 days of establishment.

Hefty civil ($500/day) and criminal penalties (up to $10,000) can be imposed on companies that fail to file a complete report.

To be sure that you and your firm comply with BOI reporting requirements, check with your trusted tax accountant or CPA.

Back to Business Basics

Hand drawing a conceptual diagram about the importance to find the shortest way to go from point A to point B, or a simple solution to a problem.It’s reassuring to remember that downturns are a normal part of the business cycle. And, just as there are strategies that help businesses thrive during profitable times, there are basic survival tactics that businesses can employ when the outlook is less than rosy.

Control Spending

Finances should be your fundamental concern when economic conditions are unsettled. When sales are slow, it’s time to preserve your cash. Look closely at how you can reduce overhead. Make certain that all your operating expenses are necessary. Even if you’ve recently made cuts, see if there are other measures you can take. Unless absolutely necessary, consider putting plans that call for capital investment on the back burner until conditions improve.

Maintain Customers

While containing costs is essential, maintaining your customer base is also crucial. So, when you’re deciding how to trim spending, make sure you don’t make cuts in areas that deliver real value to your customers. At the same time, watch your receivables. Make sure your customers’ accounts stay current.

Think Short Term

Plan purchases for the short term, keeping a minimum of cash tied up in inventory. At the same time, however, make sure you’ll be able to restock quickly. Your suppliers may be able to suggest ways you can cut costs (perhaps by using different materials or an alternative manufacturing process). See if you can negotiate better credit terms.

Plan for Contingencies

There’s a big difference between imagining that you might have to seriously scale back your business and having an action plan in place that you can quickly execute. To develop a realistic contingency plan, prepare a budget based on the impact you imagine an extended downturn would have on your business. Then outline the steps you would need to take to survive those conditions. For an added level of preparedness, draw up a second, “worst case scenario” budget and chart the cost-cutting steps you’d need to take to outlive those more dire circumstances.

Many businesses will survive challenging economic times by being informed about their financial condition and by planning ahead to succeed.

What Is Your Most Valuable Asset?

Middle Eastern Lady Using Laptop Working Online Wearing Eyewear Sitting At Workplace In Modern Office. Remote Job, Technology And Career Profession Concept. Side ViewYour most valuable asset isn’t your real estate or the tech stocks you bought in the 90s that have done well. It isn’t even your business per se. Your most valuable asset is you — specifically your ability to run a profitable company and make money.

Are you protecting that asset from the risk that a disabling illness or accident might prevent you from working? If you don’t have disability income insurance, you’re not protected.

What Are the Odds?

People generally think the odds of becoming disabled are low. But the numbers say otherwise: More than one in four 20-year-old workers become disabled before reaching retirement age. Here’s another reality check: Serious accidents are not the leading cause of long-term disability; chronic conditions are. Muscle and bone disorders (such as a back disorder or joint or muscle pain) are responsible for more than one in four disabilities.

How Long Could You Go Without an Income?

Even a short period of disability could be devastating. The average group long-term disability claim lasts 2.6 years. Even if you have reserves you 3 could tap, your personal finances would take a hit. If and when you were able to start earning an income again, you might have to start all over.

What Would Happen to Your Business?

Your involvement is vital to your company’s financial success. If you’re unable to work, you might have to hire someone to take your place and borrow money to pay the bills until you’re back on the job. Bottom line? If you’re sidelined by a long disability, it could jeopardize the success or even the survival of your business.

What Can You Do?

Call your financial professional to review and discuss this important issue.

Tax Tips for Businesses

Paper sheet in hand with magnifier, paperwork, consultant, concept business adviser, financial audit, seo analytics, auditing tax process, big data analysis, research report, market stats calculateAs a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with your federal, state, and local tax requirements. Understanding what your obligations are will assist you in filing returns and paying taxes accurately and on time. Whatever taxes you are required to pay, you have to be very aware that there are deadlines for remitting them and any delays on your part could result in penalties. Here are some tips that can help you avoid tax trouble with the IRS.

Employment Taxes

The IRS requires employers to withhold federal income tax and FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes from their employees’ wages. The IRS also wants you to remit these employment taxes, along with your company’s FICA contributions, to them in a timely manner. Failing to remit these taxes can lead to serious penalties for noncompliance. This is one issue you absolutely must stay on top of.

Remember, sole proprietors, general partners, and, usually, members of limited liability companies do not have Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld like employees do. Instead, they must pay self-employment taxes, which typically cover Social Security and Medicare.

Estimated Taxes

You must generally make quarterly estimated tax payments to cover self-employment taxes and income tax on income that is not subject to withholding. If you do not make required estimated payments on time, you may owe the IRS an underpayment penalty.

Misclassifying Workers

Employees and independent contractors are treated differently for income tax withholding and employment tax purposes. Generally, the more control you have over a worker’s tasks and hours of work, the more likely that individual is an employee. In the case of employees, you must withhold federal income tax and FICA taxes, pay your share of FICA taxes, and pay unemployment taxes. You are not required to withhold income or FICA taxes from an independent contractor. Independent contractors pay income taxes and self-employment taxes on their own. If the IRS determines that your business has misclassified employees as independent contractors, it could prove to be costly.

Keep Business and Personal Transactions Separate

Personal bank and credit card accounts should always be kept separate from business accounts. Doing so makes it easier to identify all appropriate business expenses at tax time. That, in turn, simplifies things when it comes to claiming business tax deductions.

Substantiating Business Expenses

Like every business, your company will incur various expenses that are simply the cost of doing business. Many of these business expenses will be deductible. You should have proof of purchase for those expenses that you intend to deduct. Proof can be a cancelled check (or a legible image of the check), or a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer (EFT) statement that shows the payee, amount of purchase or transfer, and the date of the transaction.

It’s also important that you can provide an invoice or receipt that identifies the purchase. If it’s not clear what the business purpose for the purchase is, then you should attach a note of explanation or write directly on the invoice or receipt. This can be helpful if the deductibility of the purchase is ever questioned by the IRS. Deductions for business travel expenses have very specific substantiation requirements, so be sure you are familiar with them before claiming these expenses.

Determining what taxes your business is subject to and when those taxes must be remitted is complex. Unfortunately, errors can be costly to your business. A professional who specializes in small business tax and accounting matters can help your business put systems and procedures in place so that it can claim all the deductions it is entitled to and meet its tax obligations in a timely and accurate manner.

Keeping It SIMPLE

SIMPLE IRA written on a piggy bank.A SIMPLE IRA is an option for small business owners who do not currently have a retirement plan in place but would like to have one. This particular type of retirement plan has several attractive features that deliver significant benefits to both employers and their employees.

What It Is

The Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) is a retirement savings plan targeted at employers with 100 or fewer employees who earn $5,000 or more in compensation. With fewer reporting and administrative requirements than other retirement plans, the SIMPLE plan is designed to appeal to employers with limited resources and personnel to handle benefit administration and compliance issues.

With a SIMPLE IRA, employees may make tax-deferred contributions through payroll deduction to traditional individual retirement accounts set up under the plan. In 2023, the contribution limit is $15,500 ($19,000 if age 50 or over). All account earnings are tax deferred until the plan participant begins withdrawals. Withdrawals from a SIMPLE IRA are taxed at regular income tax rates.

Employers appreciate the fact that a SIMPLE IRA is relatively easy to set up and operate. An annual report is not required, although certain documents must be distributed to inform employees about the plan.

Employers are required to contribute to the plan, either by matching employee contributions up to 3% of pay or by contributing 2% of each eligible employee’s compensation. The matching percentage may be lowered in some years.

Plan Benefits

  • Employee contributions are tax deferred
  • Employer contributions to employees’ SIMPLE IRAs are tax deductible
  • Account earnings are tax deferred
  • No annual filing requirement or discrimination testing

Potential Drawbacks

  • Employer contributions are required
  • No Roth contributions are permitted
  • Full immediate vesting (employee has ownership of all SIMPLE IRA money)
  • No loans permitted

Your financial and tax professionals can help you assess your retirement plan options

Five Steps to Keeping Employees Motivated

Businesswoman giving a high five to male colleague in meeting. Business professionals high five during a meeting in boardroom.Motivated employees typically perform at a higher level than employees who are disengaged from their work. They are willing to go beyond their job description to see a project through to completion. Very often, their enthusiasm inspires and pushes coworkers to excel.

Certain strategies can help foster a culture of motivation and enthusiasm within the workplace. When consistently applied, they can motivate previously disengaged employees while supporting employees who are already self-driven and motivated. Here are five such strategies.

Communicate Corporate Goals

Engaged employees work toward common goals. However, they need to see the big picture first, and it is up to you to paint that picture for them. You do so by communicating your expectations to them clearly and regularly. That involves spelling out the duties, responsibilities, and the objectives of each employee’s job, ideally when they first start working for you. You also need to explain how each employee’s efforts affect the company and its bottom line. The goals of your company must be aligned to the goals of the employees if all employees are to work together to make the company successful.

Identify What Motivates Employees

Try to understand the factors that drive each employee to excel and to deliver exceptional performance. You may find that some employees are motivated by external recognition or by a sense of personal achievement or satisfaction. Others may be motivated by money. Bonuses and other forms of incentive pay are effective monetary motivators. Non-monetary incentives, such “employee of the month” awards and special, reserved parking spots can appeal to employees who are motivated by external recognition.

Give Employees the Tools They Need

Follow through by ensuring that employees have the right tools and resources to do their jobs. In fact, ask them what they need to perform at the highest levels possible. Soliciting employees’ opinions empowers them.

Conduct Regular Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are an effective tool for tracking the progress of your employees in meeting their stated goals. They are also helpful in keeping employees motivated and productive. Consider scheduling performance reviews quarterly or even monthly instead of annually or biannually so that employees receive more consistent and regular feedback about their performance.

Provide Additional Training and Education

Give employees the opportunity to acquire additional skills related to their fields — sales, technical, mechanical, etc. Employees gain from the additional training by adding to their skill sets, and the business may gain from having a workforce with enhanced capabilities and a higher level of motivation.

7 Tax Credits for Your Small Business

Portrait of a businessman working on a tablet computer in a modern office. Make an account analysis report. real estate investment information financial and tax system conceptsLet’s talk about tax credits – what they are, how they differ from deductions, and which can benefit your small business.

What are tax credits?

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of one’s tax liability, reducing the amount of tax owed. So, a tax credit of $300 lowers your bill by $300.

Tax deductions work differently. Let’s see how tax credits and tax deductions differ.

How do tax credits differ from tax deductions?

Unlike tax credits, which are dollar-for-dollar reductions in taxes, tax deductions decrease one’s taxable income. That means only a percentage of each dollar deducted is taken off your income tax. The percentage depends on your tax bracket and the rate at which your income is taxed.

How do you know which tax credits apply to your business?

General business tax credits are calculated individually from a list of tax credits published by the IRS. Each one requires its own form. Once those are filled out, they are tallied. Once the general business tax credit for the year is determined, it is filed on Form 3800 with your tax return.

Now let’s discuss some tax credits that benefit small businesses.

What are some tax credits that benefit small businesses?

1. Family and Medical Leave Credit (FMLC)

Family and medical leave is taken when an employee must be away from work due to an event such as:

  • the birth of a baby
  • a severe illness of an immediate family member
  • a serious health condition that prevents the employee from working

The tax credit for this type of leave is applicable when the employer:

  • has a written policy in place stating they will provide family and medical leave.
  • provides paid leave to employees for family or health-related reasons for at least two weeks in a given year.
  • pays a minimum of half the employee’s earnings

The employee must have been on the payroll for at least one year for an employer to claim the credit, which is between 12.5 and 25 percent of the employee’s pay.

You will use IRS Form 8994, the Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave to claim this credit.

2. Child Care Credit

This credit is part of the general business credit. It may be claimed any time within three years from the due date of your return on either an original or amended return. The credit is 25 percent of the qualified childcare facility expenditures plus 10 percent of the qualified childcare resource and referral expenditures paid or incurred during the tax year, limited to $150,000 per tax year.

Qualified expenditures are:

  • The cost of acquiring, building, or expanding a property to be used as part of a qualified childcare facility, is the depreciable (or amortizable) property and is not part of the principal residence of the business owner or any employee.
  • Operating expenses of a qualified childcare facility of the taxpayer
  • The expense paid to a qualified childcare facility that provides childcare to employees.

For this tax credit, fill out IRS Form 8882, Credit for Employer-Provided Child Care Facilities and Services.

3. Health Insurance Credit

Employers who pay health insurance premiums for employees can redeem a tax credit for up to 50 percent of those expenses. However, specific criteria must be met. For example, this credit only applies to companies with less than 25 full-time employees. The employer must pay at least half the employees’ health insurance premiums. Further, the average payroll cannot be more than $56,000 (as of 2022). Also, remember that your business must purchase health coverage through the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program.

If your business meets these criteria (and all others required by the IRS), use Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums.

4. Employee Pension Plan Credit

The Employee Pension Plan Credit is worth up to $500, or 50 percent of your business startup costs. It can be claimed for the first three years of your plan. To qualify for this credit, your company must have fewer than 100 employees, each receiving a minimum of $5,000 in compensation. You can’t have had a 401(k) or other qualifying retirement plan for the previous three years. Lastly, you must plan to start a pension plan for your employees.

To claim this credit, use IRS Form 8881, Credit for Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs.

5. New Clean Vehicle Credit

This tax credit applies to plug-in electric vehicles (EV) or fuel cell vehicles (FCV). You could receive a credit of up to $7,500 for either of these types of cars. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 changed the rules for this credit for vehicles purchased from 2023 to 2032.

To qualify, the vehicle must be for your own use and not for resale and must be used in the United States. Further, your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) may not exceed $150,000. The type of vehicle the credit applies to can be found on the IRS website. (Note: battery and vehicle weight specifics and other qualifying criteria exist.)

To claim the credit, file Form 8936, Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit (Including Qualified Two-Wheeled Plug-in Electric Vehicles), with your tax return. You will need to provide your vehicle’s VIN.

6. Disabled Access Credit

You might be eligible for this credit if you spent money making your business more accessible to people with disabilities. To determine the official IRS definition of “accessible” which is broad, consult the instructions for IRS Form 8826. That is where you will find qualifying expenses.

The credit covers 50 percent of expenses up to $10,250 after the first $250. The maximum tax credit is $5,000. To claim this credit, use IRS Form 8826, Disabled Access Credit.

7. Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

This credit is targeted at employers who hire individuals from specific groups, including (but not limited to):

  • Veterans
  • Ex-felons
  • Summer youth employees
  • SNAP recipients
  • SSI recipients
  • Long-term unemployment recipients

The WOTC is a one-time tax credit for newly hired individuals. To claim this credit, fill out IRS Form 8850, Pre-screening Notice, and Certification Request.

Of course, you can discuss these and many other tax credits that may benefit your small business with your qualified accountant or CPA.

Is the Price Right?

Strategy for company development concept. Employees conduct comparative analysis to improve their work. Competitiveness of business. Cartoon flat vector illustration isolated on blue backgroundPricing products or services to maximize profits is a challenge — often part art and part science. To do so effectively requires research, an understanding of your market, and an intuitive feel for what will work. Getting it right, however, is critical if your business is to be profitable. There are several important issues that you must factor into any decisions you make on setting prices for your goods or services.

Start by Identifying Your Costs

Whether you have an online business or operate out of a physical property, sell inexpensive or high-end goods, or provide professional services, you will still encounter numerous expenses each day. You will be unable to price your services or goods accurately if you do not understand what your total costs are. There are a variety of components that make up your total costs, which include:

  • The cost of materials and merchandise
  • Your labor costs, including salaries and benefits
  • Your overhead costs, including mortgage/rent, taxes, utilities, insurance, transportation, and marketing/advertising

Knowing how much you need to charge just to cover your total costs is a key step in setting prices. However, your costs do not remain fixed. They change, and when they do, you will have to reevaluate what you are charging your customers. That is an ongoing process.

Understand Your Customer Base

Customers are driven to buy by a variety of factors and emotions. Some customers are acutely price sensitive. They have limited spending power and always consider price. Other customers want convenience over anything else. For them, the availability of concierge services, home delivery, and in-store pickup are important considerations when choosing a vendor. And certain people focus on the implied exclusivity or the status attached to buying and experiencing a product or service. You can more easily refine your pricing structure once you identify what type of customer you are targeting.

Identify Your Competitors

You will be more successful in positioning your business in the marketplace once you determine what your competitors are charging for similar services and goods. Do competitors emphasize low prices or superior service? Do they promote their knowledgeable staffers or the exclusivity of the goods they offer? Once you understand where you stand in relation to your competitors, you may be better able to leverage service, for example, as a value proposition that can permit you to charge higher prices than your competitors.

Explore Other Opportunities to Generate Revenue

Look beyond a single sale or service to see if there are additional ways to drive revenue. Consider making it beneficial for customers to buy larger quantities of a product by dangling discounts based on the quantity ordered. Are there opportunities to sell service contracts, options, and add-ons to a basic service or product, perhaps by offering several packages at different prices?

Pay Attention to Macro and Micro Issues

Small business owners always face factors that may threaten the viability of their businesses. The reality is that what happens in the larger world will affect your business in multiple ways. Significant hikes in your costs for labor, gasoline, and materials as well as the costs associated with supply chain issues will mean that you have to revisit your current pricing. You’ll want to continuously monitor your prices and your profitability. Understanding which products and services are profitable and which ones are not allows you to make data-driven decisions about pricing.

An experienced financial professional can assist you with your business strategy and planning.

The Pluses and Minuses of Business Borrowing

Human hand giving money to other hand. Holding banknotes. Isolated on blue background. Vector illustrationThere are distinct pluses and minuses that small business owners should consider when looking for a loan.

New small business owners typically enter the marketplace with high expectations — they want to build sales and increase profits quarter to quarter. More often than not, they hope to add employees and, perhaps, open up additional locations. To help turn their dreams of growth into reality, they often seek out financing.

The big question is when to borrow money and on what terms. The decision isn’t always clear-cut, as there are distinct pluses and minuses that small business owners should consider.

The Pluses of Business Borrowing…

Seeking financing can make sense from a business perspective if the loan is intended to help the business expand and grow. For example, using debt to add to or introduce a new line of products, acquire additional property, or take other actions that are expected to boost revenues is an appropriate business strategy. A loan can also make sense when it is used to repay the owner of the business some of what he or she put into the business using personal funds.

…And the Minuses

A business loan impacts cash flow as it is being repaid, often in monthly installments. The interest cost may be an important consideration, depending on the interest rate environment. Business borrowers should understand that their tax deduction for interest expense may be limited to 30% of the business’s adjusted taxable income. However, smaller businesses may be permitted to deduct more. A tax professional can provide details on these rules.

Excessive Debt

Business owners also need to consider other possible negative ramifications from taking on excessive debt. For example, the owner of a small business is typically required to personally guarantee loans to the business. If the business defaults on the loan, then the owner is personally liable for repaying the loan balance. It is possible that in such a situation, the lender would take steps to seize the owner’s auto, home, and other assets in order to settle the debt. Moreover, if the business ended up with more liabilities than assets and was unable to repay what it owed, then the business might be forced to file for bankruptcy.

Seek Professional Input

Before taking on debt, small business owners may want to consult with an experienced financial professional. A professional analysis of the business’s financial health, cash flow, and prospects can help the owner determine whether a business loan at this stage makes sense and how much debt the business can afford to take on.

Facing Off Against a Big Competitor

Business people run on the arrows. Concept business competition vector illustration. Flat business cartoon, Speed, Togetherness, Office Team, Back view.

Running a small business isn’t easy. You probably wouldn’t have it any other way. The ability to survive and thrive is a source of great pride for small business owners. So when a competitor moves in, especially a big one, it can feel like battle lines have been drawn.

Sharpen Your Edge

Before you do anything, accept the fact that you can’t compete on the same level as a large national chain. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win the battle. Study what the competition does and how they do it. Then use that information to define — and sharpen — your company’s competitive edge.

A large competitor will almost certainly have lower prices and a deeper inventory. But you can connect with customers in ways the competition can’t. You can add value to every customer interaction by being attentive and providing expertise and personalized service.

Perhaps your biggest edge is your size. Being small means you can respond to market trends and customer requests more quickly. You can also change and adapt policies and procedures faster.

Rally the Troops

You have another big advantage: You have an established customer base and you know what they need. Establish a timeline to reach out to your customers directly via snail mail or e-mail (or both) with special offers. If you have a loyalty program, consider doubling rewards for a period of time that overlaps with the competition’s opening.

Look for Advantages

Having a big competitor move in may have some unexpected benefits. The new company validates the need for what your business offers and may do a fair amount of advertising. If your marketing budget allows, this could be a good time to do some strategic advertising of your own.

The competition also may create some unexpected opportunities in the future. The new company will change the dynamics of the marketplace, which may lead you to steer your business in a new direction.