Click any of the service areas below to see the available whitepapers, articles, tools, and case studies.
Auto Dealerships • Benefit Plan Audits • Construction • Financial Statements
Health Care • Manufacturing and Distribution • Oil and Gas • Payroll Services • Professional Services
Real Estate • Restaurants • Small Business Tools • Tax Planning Tools
Following the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has taken steps to mitigate risk among financial institutions. One of the newest standards is a change from the “incurred loss” accounting model used to evaluate financial portfolios to an “expected loss” model known as the Current Expected Credit Loss model (CECL). For BHPH dealers, CECL will require changes in loan and lease loss recording, which in turn requires changes in the type of loan data collected and how it’s analyzed. This article outlines what BHPH dealers can do to prepare for this sweeping change and why it’s important to start planning now.
Subprime lending is alive and well on Wall Street, and not just in real estate. Low interest rates and less consumer demand are prompting brick-and-mortar and online lenders to tap into subprime auto finance more than ever before. Rather than focus on this increased competition for indirect loans, auto industry experts recommend that BHPH dealers focus on operational efficiency and alternative sources of revenue. Dealers who improve cash flow through after-care products and customer retention can ride out the subprime boom. As a bonus, a more efficient dealership will be less reliant on working capital financing in the future.
There are three key advantages for buy here pay here (BHPH) auto dealers to establish a strong partnership with their CPA firm: maintaining compliance on bank financing, filing an accurate and clean tax return and operating at a profit. When these three advantages are realized, the dealership is set up properly to sustain cash flow and avoid costly penalties by state or federal agencies like the IRS. In this article, we explore common accounting mistakes made in BHPH dealerships in the areas of discounting, reporting, remitting sales tax and customer service — and how to add more structure to efficiently scale up your operation.
There are two schools of thought when creating cash flow for a buy here pay here auto dealership. One involves selling cars as quickly as possible and repossessing them just as quickly. The other more viable option is to focus on customer service. By keeping customers in a vehicle longer, the dealer can also secure steady cash flow and support repeat customers as well as referrals. Dealers, collections staff and service technicians are all involved in the customer experience. This article reviews the benefits of a customer-centric approach to cash flow and financial management and the tools that help dealers achieve more profitable payment streams.
In the life cycle of any auto dealership, there will be times when cash flow is tight. Buy here pay here dealers in particular face complexity to ensure enough inventory is on hand to attract buyers — and offset that investment with a healthy flow through collections. This balance is never perfect. Dealers need strong banking and/or equity relationships that will extend credit to fill in the cash flow gaps. In this article, we define what a healthy credit relationship looks like and lay out options to effectively use debt for cash flow.
Related finance companies have been around for a long time…and so have the IRS guidelines for valid RFCs that auto dealerships must follow for tax compliance. With increased IRS scrutiny of the relationship between auto dealerships and these finance arms, however, owners and managers need to take a closer look at entity relationships, operational processes and reporting to avoid additional taxes and stiff penalties down the road. We review the pros and cons of RFCs, key areas for ongoing risk management and allowable methods for supporting cash flow and tax deductions.
Benefit Plan Audit Guides
The Department of Labor and IRS are ramping up efforts to improve compliance in corporate employee benefit plan administration. Frequent errors point to inadequate or improper administration by organizations, but also to auditors that lack the proper training and experience to conduct a technically appropriate employee benefit plan audit. Failure to make improvements can result in penalties and fines to companies and organizations — and even criminal charges in severe cases. That’s why it’s so important to choose an audit team with experience once your organization reaches 100 eligible participants.
A financial statement audit is conducted by an independent certified public accountant. The independent auditor’s overarching goal is to obtain reasonable — but not absolute — assurance that the financial statements prepared by plan management are fairly presented. To communicate that assurance, the independent auditor provides an opinion about whether the plan’s financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles as promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) (GAAP) or a special purpose framework that is acceptable to the DOL, such as the modified cash basis of accounting.
A quality audit will help protect the assets and the financial integrity of your employee benefit plan and ensure that the necessary funds will be available to pay retirement, health, and other promised benefits to your employees. A quality audit also will help you carry out your legal responsibility to file a complete and accurate annual return/report for your plan each year. Because an incomplete, inadequate, or untimely audit report may result in penalties being assessed against you as the plan’s administrator, selection of an experienced and reliable auditor is very important.
The AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC) has prepared this advisory to provide you, the plan sponsor, administrator, or trustee with an understanding of the importance of hiring a quality auditor to perform your employee benefit plan financial statement audit, and information to help you select a quality auditor.
Construction and Construction Services
A piece of the new federal tax package addresses accounting for long-term contracts. It is the first significant piece of tax legislation for the construction industry in years. The tricky part: larger contractors won’t be affected and will continue to account for long-term contracts as they did in the past. For the majority of affected contractors, however, there may be significant tax deferment and cash management options under the new law. Eligible contractors will need to plan ahead to set up the right accounting method for new long-term contracts.
Construction companies experience unique accounting structures due to expenses driving revenue as projects move through various stages of completion. By managing a variety of costs, maintaining safety for employees and hiring the right people, owners and project managers can improve cash flow and bid smarter on fixed price contracts.
Financial Statement Guides
An independent audit or review of a company’s financial statements by external auditors has been a keystone of confidence in the world’s financial markets since its introduction. However, when discussing the value of audited or reviewed financial statements with privately held, middle-market business owners and operators, their views might fall more along the lines of obligation to bank terms rather than any true benefit to the business. In fact, industry-focused audit teams can deliver many business insights. With the help of an audit team, business owners can improve controls and operational inefficiencies while gaining a sense of best practices within their industry. An annual audit or review can support proper regulatory reporting and compliance, implementation of accounting standards in a timely manner and improved company KPIs for forecasting.
On February 25, 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued its new lease accounting guidance in Accounting Standards Update (ASU), Leases. This edition of “A Closer Look” examines the accounting and financial reporting for leases as ammended by ASU.
You’ve worked hard to get your business off the ground. Business is good— so good that you’re ready to trade up from your leased space and build your own building. You’ve met with the bank and they’ve given you preliminary approval on a loan package. But the bank representative says she needs to see your financial statements before she can finalize your loan.
You know that timely, accurate and understandable financial statements are necessary to gauge how well your business has performed and to assess the strength of its financial position. You know that they are the foundation upon which you make important business decisions.
CPAs provide a wide range of services to the public, and auditing is at the core of those services. Since the founding of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in 1887, the Institute and the profession have been committed to achieving the highest level of performance for financial statement audits. As part of the AICPA’s commitment to quality, we are providing this resource to assist your organization in:
- Understanding the importance of hiring a quality auditor to perform your financial statement audit
- Evaluating auditor qualifications
- Implementing the proposal process, including the request for proposal, proposal
evaluation and auditor selection
- Documenting the agreement
After working with a variety of physicians and specialty care groups on back-office functions, we have discovered one universal truth: most physicians prefer serving patients than dealing with accounting. However, staffing, processes and collections are critical to a profitable practice. With more physicians working for small practices or for other physicians than ever before, this whitepaper shares tips for simplifying accounting while also making staffing and processes more efficient to support practice profits and physician productivity.
Small medical and dental practices are challenged to report positive patient outcomes while also running an efficient practice. Whether their goal is to remain independent or merge into a larger health organization, owners must implement both technological and outsourced solutions to improve the productivity of physicians, enhance cash flow and also report on outcomes.
Manufacturing and Distribution
Manufacturing firms spend a lot of time focusing on streamlined operations and leveraging technology to reduce constraints in the supply chain. What if the theories of supply chain management were applied to business transition planning? In similar ways, you must assess demand, identify and find solutions around constraints, communicate effectively and take the critical path. This whitepaper aligns supply chain theory with business transition planning to give owners and leaders common language — and maybe some motivation to get started.
This is not a political article. It is more about pondering the possibilities for manufacturers who are waiting to see how a new federal tax plan may change how they structure their businesses. With tax reform on the legislative horizon, we looked at a handful of potential changes under discussion to provide some context for tax planning later this year.
As a longtime CPA in the Dallas area, I have worked with a lot of family-owned and closely held small business owners, particularly in manufacturing and distribution companies. If you are among the small and medium-sized business owners who are age 50 or older, that gives most of you a window of 10 years or less to fully execute a business transition or succession plan. Fortunately, creating the actual succession plan can take less than one year. This whitepaper can be your accounting starter kit or template for a fruitful business transition. Use it to support a healthier business and a more secure retirement. Your future begins…now.
In the past year, manufacturing employment in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has dropped by 2 percent. This statistic alone seems negative, but the overall outlook for manufacturing is trending positive with increased focus on innovation, simplified supply chains, diversification into customer-focused services and creativity with materials performance and fuel sourcing. It’s still a challenging industry, but this real or perceived lull in growth is the perfect time to assess the structure and vision of your company. Strengthen the basics to be ready for what’s next.
Oil and Gas
Oil and gas investments have unique aspects of finance and taxes that are not seen in any other industry. High oil inventories have driven commodity prices and oil investment prices down, and it may be time to consider adding oil investments to a portfolio. Different entity structures and the accounting methods used make it difficult for investors to get a side-by-side comparison of O&G developers. Investors need to understand the pros and cons of each investment type under consideration, including the impact of accounting methods used, the developer’s strategy with regard to reserves, and finally the potential tax benefits or impacts.
The oil and gas industry has experienced booms and busts of varying lengths since the dawn of mineral exploration. The current climate for O&G suggests continued consolidation, however forecasts by industry experts anticipate the boom may be back by 2018. For any owners or buyers of mineral interests, the market may be ripe for making deals now — with a careful eye toward the tax implications. No two deals are alike, and it’s important to learn the potential tax impact and the types of taxes you may be paying.
The challenges of Affordable Care Act reporting for the 2015 tax year will likely follow companies and organizations into 2016 — and the honeymoon period with the IRS is over. It will take more than careful administration to ensure proper reporting and avoid kicked back forms or penalties for missing or inaccurate data. Benefits brokers that specialize in ACA reporting recommend a combination of careful administration along with support from payroll outsourcing companies. This planning includes a CPA team that can advise on tax and payroll administration.
For many small businesses, payroll may be handled in-house. And yet, the laws and regulations surrounding employee compensation and benefits can challenge owners and back office staff to stay efficient and compliant. Payroll ties directly into individual and company tax reporting as well as employee benefit compliance. If and when companies choose to outsource payroll, they must weigh the potential benefits against the ability of the payroll provider to deliver a high level of customer service and communication. Companies and industries differ on how they structure payroll and benefits. Laws and regulations also vary state by state. Consulting on payroll structure, schedules, regulatory changes and reporting, therefore, should be part of the relationship while still being cost effective for the company. It’s helpful to start this discussion with your CPA.
It may not be as easy for architecture and engineering firms to qualify for R&D credits, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Now that tax reform may result in lower corporate tax rates, it’s a good time to investigate any R&D activities that occurred for the 2015, 2016 or 2017 tax years. Resulting credits could offset higher federal tax in previous years as well as state franchise or business tax collected in Texas. The first step is an R&D study.
Professional service firms offer their services in a variety of ways, and this fact adds complexity to time and billing processes. If time and billing are complex, then accounting and payroll also have many moving parts. By automating some of the steps that go into accurate time and billing — and closing the gap between time and billing and accounts receivables — professional service firms improve cash flow and profits. Outsourcing is one solution to achieve automation without the costs of purchasing technology and training in-house staff.
Professional Service Organizations (PSO) often deal in Human Capital (i.e. they sell time), which creates pressure to manage quickly but not always effectively. Even as they advise business owners, leaders in a PSO neglect many of the same operational and financial issues in their own organizations. Before client service and profits begin to decline, PSO leaders must identify their operational inefficiencies and decide if they have the resources internally or externally to address them. A well-managed PSO anticipates change with the right key performance indicators — helping leaders look ahead instead of always over their shoulders.
The National Law Journal’s Survey of Law Firm Economics, 2015 Edition (based on 2014 data) is one of the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date set of economic statistics and financial data available for the legal profession and environment. This year’s survey contains information from 5,759 lawyers in total, including 1,711 associates, 3,480 partners/shareholders (equity and non-equity), 382 active counsel and 152 staff lawyers working in 69 U.S. law firms. In its 43rd year, the survey remains an invaluable tool for managers at law firms. In order for the report to be a useful tool, law firm managers must provide the relevant information when completing the actual survey.
Over the past eight years and now into the era of the new Republican White House, scrutiny on affordable housing developers, owners and management companies has increased. Whether the reasons are to root out abuses of Section 8 funding or to justify cutting the US Housing and Urban Development budget, politics have put pressure on HUD inspectors to increase their review of funding recipients. Based on a recent presentation we attended on the return of the HUD Management & Occupancy Review (MOR), we outline ways that owners and managers of HUD-funded properties can prepare for a potential MOR.
The New Deal of Dallas Real Estate: Low Debt, High Flexibility, and More Digital Could Extend Positive Cycles
Real estate developers and investors are embracing a very different reality in a Post-Recession economy. Trends in tiny homes and virtual offices point to an assumption that bigger and grander is no longer better. The same goes for financing. In the new deal of real estate, we anticipate a continued conservative approach to financing of real estate from both lending and private equity. We also project continued influence by end users on the size, type and location of future real estate development. Or should we say, redevelopment? All of this change bodes well for reducing volatility and extending positive cycles of growth, and with it a longer view on profits.
Improving restaurant efficiency can become an ongoing part of your point of sale and accounting systems, allowing you to make continuous improvements. This can help owners and managers exceed industry benchmarks, free up focus for customers and growth, and create an easier path to sell when it’s time. From choosing the right restaurant software to finding areas where owners and managers can improve the bottom line, an experienced restaurant accountant has the inside knowledge you need.
Mitigating the risk of loss in restaurants through theft is an ongoing challenge. Automation has improved security in transactions as well as back-office functions. But with top concerns in the restaurant industry being wholesale food costs and building and maintaining sales volume, the reduction of theft can improve those concerns for restaurateurs. We review the key areas for employee embezzlement and provide guidance on limiting loss with proper checks and balances.
It’s midnight. You’re struggling with a decision about a major expansion that could transform your small business into a powerhouse — or bankrupt it, if your plans don’t work out as you’re hoping. Or you’ve spent hours trying to pull together some financial information that your banker has requested, time that would have been much better spent running your business. Who can you turn to for feedback or technical advice in situations like these? The answer: Your CPA.
Small Business Tools
One important consideration when starting your business is determining the best legal organizational structure. Why? Because it will affect operating efficiency, transfer-ability, control, the way you report income, the taxes you pay and your personal liability.
Four basic structure types are available:
• Sole proprietorship
• Partnership — general and limited
• Corporation — S corporation, C corporation
• Limited liability company (LLC)
The choices can be complicated — and errors can be costly. Business legal structures are regulated by state governments, but your county or municipality also may have license requirements.
It’s no secret that you will need capital — money — to launch your new business. In fact, many entrepreneurs struggle to get their businesses off the ground because they’re unable to secure adequate funding. The good news is that billions of dollars are available to fund small business ventures like yours.
Before you begin the process of securing capital, you will need a written business plan that defines your business, management team, market, products and services, competitive advantage and the financial forecast and analysis that determines the proper amount and type of financing.
Sound planning is one of the most critical factors to the success of your business. Before you started your business, you likely put together a plan for your start-up expenses and projected monthly revenues and expenses. Now that your business is up and running, your plan will need to be adjusted regularly to match your actual performance.
If you’re like most small business owners, time is your most scarce resource. Conducting a monthly or quarterly financial health checkup with your local certified public accountant (CPA) can provide a substantial return on your financial planning time because it allows you to leverage the expert training and experience of a CPA who advises many small business owners.
When starting a small business, taking the time to set up your recordkeeping system properly, right from the beginning, will save you time and money down the road — and could make the difference between success and failure. Certified public accountants (CPAs) are experts in small business finance including taxes, financial reporting, business advisory, personal financial planning as well as bookkeeping and payroll processing.
Tax Planning Tools
Tax reform has taken many twists and turns since April. It appears that any iteration of a tax reform bill will be far from business as usual. Simplification of tax rate tiers and nearly doubling the standard deduction have an overall aim of making individual tax filing easier. However, certain provisions for eliminating deductions are a valid concern among both business owners and individuals. There are good ideas that align with historic tax reform, and others that stray far from it. The best course is to look at your own tax situation from the previous year and consider ways to improve it, while sitting tight on tax news from the Hill. It’s only a framework, so far.
With Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans maintaining a majority in Congress comes the possibility of some dramatic changes in tax law. As of the writing of this guide, however, these and other prospective tax law changes are still uncertain. Legislation might be signed into law later this year, but likely with many provisions not going into effect until 2018 or later. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be an impact on 2017 tax planning. There could be major incentives to defer income to 2018 and accelerate deductions into 2017.
We know it’s a tough transition to stare at your 30s and say good-bye to youth. Seriously, though, millennials have great opportunities to transform how people live, work and do business in the next three decades. With that power comes great responsibility to manage your finances wisely. This article will stare into the abyss of mortality with you and help you recognize the possibilities to soar rather than settle.
Tax planning for 2016 is marked by certainty and uncertainty. Many valuable tax breaks were made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act). But there are some tax breaks that the PATH Act only temporarily extended, in many cases only through December 31, 2016. Even though many tax law provisions are now “permanent,” this simply means that they don’t have expiration dates. With tax reform still on Congress’s agenda and a new President entering the White House, some major changes could be on the horizon. This article provides an overview of some key tax provisions and a variety of tax strategies for entrepreneurial and mid-market business owners.
As a longtime CPA in the Dallas area, I have worked with a lot of family-owned and closely held small business owners. If you are among the small and medium-sized business owners who are age 50 or older, that gives most of you a window of 10 years or less to fully execute a business transition or succession plan. Fortunately, creating the actual succession plan can take less than one year. This whitepaper can be your accounting starter kit or template for a fruitful business transition. Use it to support a healthier business and a more secure retirement. Your future begins…now.
Last December, many valuable tax breaks were made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act). As a result, tax planning in 2016 is a little easier than it has been in recent years. But there are some tax breaks that the PATH Act only temporarily extended, in many cases only through Dec. 31, 2016. And, even though many tax law provisions are now “permanent,” this simply means that they don’t have expiration dates. With tax reform still on Congress’s agenda and a new President entering the White House in 2017, some major changes are on the horizon.
So in your 2016 planning, don’t count on the tax regime remaining the same indefinitely. In other words, the only certainty in tax planning is uncertainty. What does this all mean? Tax planning in 2016 is as important as ever. This guide provides an overview of some key tax provisions you need to be aware of and offers a variety of strategies for minimizing your taxes. But there isn’t space to touch on all of the available tax-saving opportunities. So please contact your tax advisor to learn exactly which strategies will work best for you.