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Monthly Archives

July 2023

Increased Tax Bills Hitting Private Companies – Big and Small

By Blog, Tax and Financial News

Private companies both large and small are feeling the tax pinch due to changes in the law. With rampant inflation, labor shortages, lingering supply chain issues and increased borrowing costs due to rising interest rates, tax problems are the last thing struggling companies need to face.

While tax rates themselves remain largely unchanged, business’ taxable income is increasing due to changes in three main deduction areas: research and experimental (R&E) capitalization; interest expense deduction calculations; and a reduction in bonus depreciation. All of these provisions were made more liberal in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2018, but with a wind-down over a 10-year period.

Part of the problem is that these tax law changes can increase a business’ overall tax burden even though there have been no operational changes to the business, leaving less profits than prior years with all other factors being equal. Below, we look at each of the three tax provisions, the changes coming and the impact on businesses.

Stricter Interest Expense Limitations

Tax code section 163(j) limits the amount of business interest expense to 30 percent of adjusted taxable income. The 30 percent limit remains unchanged, but the basis of what constitutes “taxable income” as part of the calculation is becoming tighter.

From 2018 through 2021 year-end, businesses were allowed to add back depreciation, amortization and depletion in coming up with their adjusted taxable income that underlies the calculation. As a result, for 2022 and onward, without these add-backs the taxable income on which the 30 percent limit is applied will be lower, resulting in smaller interest deductions.

Given that borrowing rates have gone up substantially with increases by the Federal Reserve over recent years, now businesses are hit from two sides at once. They are likely to have higher interest costs but can take less as a deduction.

Research and Experimental Capitalization

At one point, business investments in research and experimentation under the TCJA were 100 percent deductible. Starting with 2022 and after, they need to be capitalized over a five-year period (15 years for foreign R&E).

Bonus Depreciation Decreases

Under the TCJA, bonus depreciation allowed immediate expensing and deduction of qualified investments in property and equipment, up through the taxable year-end of 2022. Starting with property and equipment investments placed in service in 2023, however, bonus depreciation is reduced from 100 percent down to 80 percent and decreases by an additional 20 percent each year until the taxable year 2027. From 2027 and onward, there will be zero bonus depreciations available. This will not only increase taxes, but it will also put a hamper on capital investments, rippling through the economy.


There is already chatter about extending some of these provisions, especially regarding bonus depreciation. Optimism on changes or extensions of these tax provisions should be taken cautiously, however. Many predicted that tax bill extenders would be in place before the end of 2022, but that never came to fruition. Right now, businesses are in a wait-and-see situation, with the threat of materially higher tax bills unless Congress does something.

How Businesses Can Identify and Increase Efficiency with Managerial Accounting

By Blog, General Business News

Managerial accounting is a form of internal reporting that helps business owners and others involved in the organization’s decision making. It looks at individual processes and products to see how they are functioning via practical data points. This is done in hopes of applying data analysis to improve the business’ operational efficiency.

It is important to keep in mind the intended audience and data structure with regard to managerial accounting versus financial accounting. While managerial accountants analyze information, it is not subject to GAAP requirements; however, financial accountants must present company information according to GAAP standards – and such information is often intended for external consumers like investors or lenders.

Measuring Inventory Levels

One way that businesses turn to managerial accounting is through scrutinizing their inventory turnover. Companies that analyze how often they have sold and replenished their inventory over a measured time period can make better decisions about their inventory cycle (production, buying new input materials, marketing, and pricing). Managerial accounting professionals help businesses identify carrying costs of inventory. It’s expressed as follows:

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) / Average Value of Inventory

Higher ratios usually indicate greater company sales. Lower sales generally indicate there are problems with product or service demand.

Monitoring Outstanding Accounts Receivables

Analyzing accounts receivable can provide beneficial insights on a business’ bottom line. An accounts receivables (AR) aging report categorizes AR invoices based on how long they have been outstanding. The report can categorize how late payables are (30 days or less, 31-60 days, 61-90 days and so on). Based on the results, companies can look at historical data, along with projected sales, to figure out how much they need to allocate for uncollectable accounts. Companies also can proactively reduce credit limits, determine when it’s time to stop doing business with a customer/client, and send unpaid bills to collection.

Price Variance Considerations

When a business looks at price variance, the first step is to take the final price paid for each unit, then subtract the unit’s standard cost from the former figure. The resulting figure is multiplied by however many units were actually bought. It’s a way for managerial accountants to determine the difference, either a positive variance (increased costs above the standard price) or a negative variance (decreased costs relative to the standard price), between the cost planned and the cost at time of purchase.  

The formula is expressed as follows:

Price Variance = (Actual Price – Standard Price) x Actual Quantity

If a business is planning to make a purchase for their next fiscal year, it may want only 5,000 widgets that cost $10 per widget. The business gets a bulk discount of $1 per widget, bringing it down to $9 per widget. However, when the time to purchase the 5,000 widgets comes along, it realizes it only needs to purchase 3,500 widgets. At the quantity of 3,500 widgets, the business won’t receive the bulk discount, reverting the cost back to $10 per widget, creating a variance of $1 per unit or widget.

Using the formula, it could be expressed as follows:

Price Variance = ($10 – $9) x 3,500 = $1 x 3,500 = $3,500. Since circumstances changed at the business between their initial planning and ultimate purchase time-frame, the price variance resulted in $3,500.

While managerial accounting has many different tools for analysis, the one common thread is that regardless of the tool used, managerial accountants help businesses find higher levels of operational efficiency.

New Personal Finance Provisions in the 2.0 Secure Act

By Blog, Financial Planning

The Continuing Appropriations Act, enacted at the end of 2022, included several provisions that impact retirement plans going forward. Specifically, the legislation enacts SECURE 2.0, an updated version of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019. The following provisions are financial planning considerations that affect individuals.

Increases Catch-up Contributions

Beginning in 2024, catch-up contributions to employer retirement plans made by employees who earn more than $145,000 a year (regularly adjusted for inflation) must be classified as after-tax Roth contributions. This is necessary for eligible plans to retain their tax-favored status.

Starting in 2025, catch-up contributions for participants ages 60 to 63 will increase from $7,500 to $10,000 per year for contributors in most qualified retirement plans. Beginning in 2026, the new catch-up contribution will be indexed to inflation.

Allows Employer Contributions to Roth 401(k)

Employers are now able to make post-tax contributions to a Roth option in an employee’s 401(k) plan. Employers also may open a Roth account option in SIMPLE and SEP IRA plans for employees.

Expands Emergency Distributions from Retirement Accounts

Starting in 2024, there will be a new exception to the rule for early withdrawals from qualified retirement accounts. Distributions used for unforeseeable events, such as a personal or family emergency, will not be subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. However, the rule applies to only one distribution per year and only up to $1,000. The plan member has the option to repay the distribution within three years. Absent full repayment, no further emergency withdrawals may occur during those three years.

The provision also waives the withdrawal penalty on any amount for individuals certified by a physician to have a terminal illness.

Increases Age for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)

Starting in 2023, the age that triggers required minimum distributions (and their requisite income tax liability) from qualified retirement accounts increases from 72 to 73. Starting in 2033, the trigger age raises to 75. The RMD rule apples to 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans). Also, starting in 2024, Roth 401(k) accounts will no longer require RMDs.

Reduces Excise Tax on Noncompliant RMDs

If an investor is required to start taking minimum distributions and does not take out the required amount in a single year, he is subject to a tax on the amount not distributed. The tax used to be 50 percent, but starting in 2023 it was reduced to 25 percent. Moreover, if the account owner corrects course and takes the full distribution within a certain window of time, the tax may be further reduced to only 10 percent.

Allows Emergency Savings Accounts

Starting in 2024, the legislation permits employers to offer an emergency savings account option within its retirement plan. The following provisions apply:

  • Employee contributions are made with after-tax income
  • There is an annual cap of $2,500
  • Participants may make at least one withdrawal per month
  • Up to four withdrawals per year are not subject to fees
  • Emergency savings may be held in an interest bearing cash-equivalent account
  • Employers may match contributions, but those must be deposited to the participant’s retirement plan investment, not the emergency savings account
  • The emergency account is portable when the participant leaves the employer and can be rolled into a Roth defined contribution plan or IRA

Permits Employer Match for Student Loan Payments

Presently – through 2025 – employers may contribute up to $5,250 (tax-free) a year toward worker student loan payments. Starting next year, employers have the option to classify those loan payments as contributions to the company retirement plan, such as a 401(k). This allows workers with student loans the opportunity to pay down that debt with their own income and still receive an employer match toward their retirement plan – so they don’t have to choose one or the other.

6 Ways to Travel on a Budget

By Blog, Tip of the Month

The thrill of summer travel is always invigorating, but the prices to get there can be a real bummer. But not to fear. We’re here with some smart tips that will help you navigate in this price jungle and have a wonderful, memory-filled getaway.

Plan Way Ahead

Even though you can sometimes find great deals at the last minute, if you can wrap your head around thinking in advance about your vacay (especially if you’re buying long-haul flights), it’ll pay off. For instance, if you’re traveling to Europe or Asia, you’ll find that buying your tickets early not only provides significant savings, but also gives you a jump start on exploring other aspects of your trip, like hotels and excursions. Some helpful sites for comparing prices are Expedia, Kayak and Priceline. Check these when planning so you can snag the best deals.

Be Flexible

Do you have to travel in July? What about August? Are the fall and December holidays out of the question? If you aren’t stuck on a certain time of year, you’ll realize some significant savings. Also, must you leave town on a Friday? What about a Tuesday or Thursday? Choosing to fly on weekdays can dramatically change the price of your ticket. Plus, flights can be less crowded.

Create a budget – and Stick To It

While this is a challenge, it’s not impossible. That’s why it’s important to think about where you want to go. For example, San Francisco and New York City might be a little on the pricey side. Another thing to consider is how long you want to be away. If you’re thinking about a two-week long vacation, you might want to be a little stricter with how much you spend each day. That said, don’t be too strict! The whole idea of a holiday escape is to kick back and dive into the culture of a new place.

Choose a Budget-Friendly Destination

As mentioned above, choosing a vacation destination that won’t break the bank is a strategic way to cut costs. Southeast Asia and South America are great places to start. If you’ve decided you must go to Europe, you might want to stay away from the Scandinavian countries. Although they’re crazy beautiful, they have some of the highest cost of living index scores. One way to get ahead of what you might spend is to check out cost of living sites, where you’ll find current stats, estimates, and calculations of how much you might spend each day.

Don’t Overpack

While it’s probably irresistible to overpack (I want to have choices!), if you can travel light, you’ll save on bag fees big time. Even better, if you can limit what you’re taking to just a carry-on, you’ll really avoid those pesky charges, plus it’ll give you the ability to breeze on and off the plane in no time. In terms of what you bring, this also requires some forethought. While packing multiple bathing suits and shorts (if you’re going somewhere tropical) is fun, these fashionable items might be taking the place of necessary gear like a raincoat, a warm hoodie or even a sweater. So take a breath, think through your days and get packing – judiciously, that is.

Find Free Activities

Before you head out on your adventure, let your fingers do the walking over to your favorite search engine and get going. Search “free stuff to do” (or the like) at your intended destination. You’ll find things like free museums, parks, gardens, and festivals. Then let your feet do the walking! Getting outside, weather permitting, and strolling is one of the best ways to soak in a city.

When you can stay on budget and have a fabulous time with family and friends, you’ll not only come back with amazing memories, you’ll also return without a lot of debt. And that’s a fantastic feeling that will stick with you for a good while.


What Actions Can Data-Breach Victims Take?

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Over the years, millions of individuals have been affected by data breaches, where their sensitive data is accessed by unauthorized cybercriminals or publicly exposed. A data breach can result in huge financial loss if stolen data is used to compromise consumer identity, which also can affect a credit score.

Unfortunately, there is a great number of people who don’t know what to do if affected by a breach. At the same time, there are those in the know who do nothing.

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach is a cyber security incident that exposes sensitive data such as names, contact details, bank details, Social Security numbers, etc.

Data breaches are the work of criminals who aim to obtain specific data. Criminals do this through various methods, including phishing attacks, malware attacks, targeted attacks, vulnerability exploits, and loss or theft of devices. However, data breaches are also a result of technical or human errors. For example, a misconfiguration error exposed the car location data of 2 million Toyota customers in Japan and overseas for 10 years; and the work of an insider led to Tesla’s massive data breach.

Unfortunately, data breach cases keep rising. May 2023 alone saw numerous breaches from different organizations, including healthcare organizations, education institutions, the transportation department and even tech giants.

For companies, the consequences of data breaches are reputation damage, loss of consumer trust, intellectual property theft, financial loss and fines due to failure to conform with data protection legislation. While cybercriminals mainly target organizations, individuals also experience identity theft and financial crimes. This especially happens when stolen data is sold on the dark web or publicly published.

What action can data-breach victims take?

Unfortunately, no one is immune from a data breach. However, victims can survive a breach with less disruption. Once a data breach has occurred, the U.S. breach notification law requires businesses or governments to notify those affected immediately after its discovery.

Although companies are responsible for securing customer data in their possession, customers also have a role to play in securing their data. Essential steps to take include:

  • Being aware of any site claiming to be a data breach check site.
    Such sites could ask for personal information or ask a victim to click a link to verify their details. Hackers also take advantage of a breach and pose as the affected company to lure victims into clicking malicious links, primarily through emails. A user must, therefore, first confirm that a breach happened. This can be in the news or on the affected company’s website.
  • Change passwords for accounts exposed.
    In most cases, affected companies will notify victims of their affected accounts, and their security team will provide instructions on how to stay safe. Such instructions include changing passwords on the breached site or any other account that uses similar login credentials.
  • Set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA).
    This extra security measure will require a one-time user code to log in to an account in addition to the login and password.
  • Notify the bank.
    If financial-related data was stolen, such as credit card information, the bank must be notified immediately to freeze the cards.
  • Credit freeze.
    Cybercriminals can use stolen data to open new accounts and take loans. To avoid a ruined credit score, individuals can request a credit freeze from major credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Monitor personal accounts for any unusual transactions.
    Although it depends on the type of data breach and exposed data, victims must look out for unauthorized transactions, including bank account transactions, medical bills, insurance claims and tax refund claims.
  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
    If criminals have already used personal data, filing an identity theft report will serve as proof to clear one’s name or dispute a fraudulent transaction.
  • Practice cyber hygiene.
    These are practices that help individuals remain safe online. Aside from account security, consumers must use up-to-date software and operating systems, antivirus software, and avoid publishing too much personal information to minimize online footprints that fraudsters can easily access, such as on social media.

It is worth noting that data breaches are not detected immediately, which means that by the time users get notified, cybercriminals already have had access to the data for some time. And as technology advances, cybercriminals are taking advantage of new technologies such as generative AI for phishing attacks. This means that more data breaches may continue to be witnessed.

However, users can help prevent future data breaches by using strong passwords, being cautious of phishing scams, and regularly monitoring financial accounts.

Raising the Debt Ceiling, Protecting Air Travel and Repealing the Iraq AUMF

By Blog, Congress at Work

Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (HR 3746) – This Act represents a compromise reached by House Republicans and President Biden. Republicans negotiated concessions in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling to maintain solvency of the federal government. These concessions included universal cuts to federal spending, the suspension of student loan repayments that began during the pandemic, additional work requirements for some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, and suspending the current $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until 2025.The bill was introduced by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) on May 29. The legislation was passed in the House on May 31, in the Senate on June 1, and signed into law on June 2 – just in time to avert the global financial crisis it would have triggered by June 5.

NOTAM Improvement Act of 2023 (HR 346) – This bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) on Jan. 12. This Act instructs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish a federal NOTAM system (notice to air missions, as required by international or domestic law) as well as an accompanying task force. The task force is directed to evaluate existing regulations, policies, systems and international standards relating to NOTAMs; determine best practices; and make recommendations to improve the publication and delivery of NOTAM information. This bill passed in the House on Jan. 25, passed with changes in the Senate on May 9, finalized in the House on May 22 and was signed by the president on June 3.

A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to protect personally identifiable information, and for other purposes (S 758) – This bill would require the Treasury Department to removepersonal traveler information, such as Social Security and passport numbers, from transportation manifests before they become accessible to the public. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) on March 9and passed in the Senate on the same day. It is presently under review in the House.

A bill to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq (S 316) – The purpose of this bipartisan bill is to repeal a decades-old AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) against Iraq. This repeal restores Congress’ constitutional responsibility to undertake the traditional process for approving the use of military force. The bill was introduced on Feb. 9 by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and was co-sponsored by 31 Democrats, 12 Republicans and three Independents. The bill passed in the Senate on March 29 and is currently under consideration in the House.

Administrative False Claims Act of 2023 (S 659) – Introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on March 6, this bill would modify the current provisions of fraud committed against the federal government. The current maximum fraud claim is $150,000; the bill would raise that limit to $1 million, as well as enable the federal government to recoup expenses related to the investigation and prosecution of each case. The Senate passed the bill on March 30 before sending it to the House, where it awaits a vote.