November 1, 2019
Fighting Foreign Terrorism on Homeland Soil, Increased Protections for Clean Water and Low-Income Veterans, and New Appropriations for FY2020 thumbnail

Fighting Foreign Terrorism on Homeland Soil, Increased Protections for Clean Water and Low-Income Veterans, and New Appropriations for FY2020

Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act of 2019 (HR 1590) – This bill promotes the identification and determent of terrorist activity from reaching the homeland, and enhances the United States government’s ability to respond to terrorism, including emerging threats. Specifically, the legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and conduct exercises related to foreign terrorism, including the National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, and other related plans and strategies. The legislation was introduced on March 7 by Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS). The president signed the bill into law on Oct. 9. Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act (S 163) – This bill is designed to prevent catastrophic failure or shutdown of remote diesel power engines […]
November 1, 2019
How to Stay Safe with Business Email Compromise on the Rise thumbnail

How to Stay Safe with Business Email Compromise on the Rise

According to a report by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released in July, financial institutions have incurred more than $9 billion in losses due to Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes since 2016. With such staggering losses, businesses and even individuals can’t afford to ignore BEC attacks. What is BEC? BEC fraud involves cyber thieves posing as company executives or a business contact with the intention to commit wire transfer fraud or obtain sensitive information. The main targets are businesses working with foreign suppliers or a business that carries out regular wire-transfer payments. To carry out this attack, criminals might pretend to be the company CEO and request that a junior staff member perform a task for them, such as […]
November 1, 2019
5 Ways to Save on Holiday Gifting thumbnail

5 Ways to Save on Holiday Gifting

Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner. And try as you might, overspending is real – whether you plan ahead or wait until the last minute. With this in mind, here are a few ways to get a handle on spending and save money on gifting. Set Limits. Decide how much you’re going to spend overall on holiday gifts and how many people you’re buying for. Then do the math. For instance, you might want to spend $250 for 10 people. That’s $25 per person. However, there might be those you want to spend more on, which is perfectly understandable. But you can get into trouble when you buy your sister an expensive sweater and then […]
November 1, 2019
What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Recession thumbnail

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Recession

Economists generally determine that the country has fallen into a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Since 1967, the United States has experienced seven recessions. The thing is, predicting a recession is a little like predicting a tornado. Experts are never exactly sure if or when one will occur, but they can cite when conditions a ripe for one based past experience. The good news for predictors is that the economy follows a similar pattern of indicators in the months leading up to a recession. The bad news is that many those indicators have recently emerged. For example: Inverted Yield Curve – This is when the yield on longer-term Treasury bonds is lower than […]
November 1, 2019
How Will Ongoing China Trade Tensions Tensions Impact Consumer Spending? thumbnail

How Will Ongoing China Trade Tensions Tensions Impact Consumer Spending?

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau, retail sales came in at a negative 0.3 percent for September, even though it’s still 4.1 percent more than September 2018’s report. The same report followed up on August 2019’s numbers, with a revision by the agency to 0.6 percent, up from 0.4 percent. With the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and tariff uncertainty, how will consumer spending be impacted? Current State of Trade and Tariffs With phase one agreed to, at least in principle, at the end of the meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu on Oct. 11, President Trump agreed to keep tariffs at 25 percent on $250 billion in Chinese imports, instead of increasing the tariffs […]
November 1, 2019
LIFO Versus FIFO and How Each Method Values Inventory thumbnail

LIFO Versus FIFO and How Each Method Values Inventory

As the name implies, First-In, First-Out (FIFO) is a way for companies to value their inventory. The first items put into inventory or produced by the company are accordingly the first taken out of inventory or transferred to customers and therefore expensed. When it comes to accounting for acquisition and/or production costs, initial and earlier costs are the first to be expensed, with more recent costs staying on the balance sheet to be expensed later. Assume a company already has 200 widgets costing $4/widget. From there, the company increased its inventory at three more times during a selected accounting period. Three hypothetical, additional purchases include: 200 widgets @ $6/widget 200 widgets @ $7/widget 200 widgets @ $8/widget If the company […]
November 1, 2019
Tax Changes 2019 thumbnail

Tax Changes 2019

With the start of the fourth quarter of 2019 underway, it’s time to see what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will expect of filers for their 2019 taxes. The following are a list of major changes that filers need to be aware of: 1. Removal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Individual Mandate Penalty With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), filers and households who failed to carry adequate health insurance according to the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements will no longer have to pay the penalty on their 2019 taxes. This is because the TCJA lowered the penalty to zero dollars permanently. In previous years, households not meeting ACA health insurance requirements were mandated to pay […]
October 1, 2019
Debt Relief for Military Service Members, Veterans, Family Farmers and Small Business Owners thumbnail

Debt Relief for Military Service Members, Veterans, Family Farmers and Small Business Owners

Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (HR 3311) – Scheduled to take effect starting in February 2020, this new law offers small businesses more agreeable terms when filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy status. The bill gives owners: More time (90 days) to file a reorganization plan with easier rules for extension The ability to retain ownership of the company even if debts are not paid in full A new formula for debt payments based on projected disposable income over three to five years Reduced red tape through the appointment of a “standing trustee” (instead of a credit committee) to oversee the reorganization process A more “fair and equitable” process to determine owner and creditor equity interests More protection against creditor […]
October 1, 2019
What is VPN and Why Do You Need It? thumbnail

What is VPN and Why Do You Need It?

The rise in the number of data breaches reported every other day has become a major concern – even to the ordinary internet user. As a result, we have all become aware of the need to maintain privacy while online. One of the measures promising to keep you safe on the internet is the use of a virtual private network (VPN). But before rushing to install one of the many VPNs available, it’s important to understand what a VPN is, why you need it, if it is foolproof and other ways to stay safe on the internet. What is a VPN? The VPN service lets you browse the internet privately by masking your IP address – the unique address identifying […]
October 1, 2019
How Parents Can Save Money for College-Bound Kids thumbnail

How Parents Can Save Money for College-Bound Kids

No matter how old your children are, it’s always a good idea to start saving for college as soon as possible. (Yes, even when they’re still in diapers.) This might sound overwhelming, especially if you haven’t started, but take heart, it’s never too late. Here are a few things to do before you start saving, as well as smart ways to gather the resources you’ll need. Figure Out How Much College Will Cost Is your child interested in a state school? A small private university? Or a trade school? Create a list of schools, do the math and figure out a ballpark number of how much you’ll need. When you do this, you can calculate how much per month or […]
October 1, 2019
How to Inflation-Proof a Retirement Portfolio thumbnail

How to Inflation-Proof a Retirement Portfolio

Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy is longer than it used to be, but empirically we see this every day among elderly people who have lived much longer than they probably expected. This phenomenon spotlights a particular component of retirement planning that was not as significant in the past as it is now: long-term inflation. While we’ve not experienced annual inflation rates this century as high as the latter part of the 20th century, inflation can balloon at any time. But what can be even more devastating to a retiree on a fixed income is cumulative inflation over time. It’s also important to recognize that specific consumer product inflation rates can differ substantially from the averages. For example, according […]
October 1, 2019
Will China's Recent Soybean Purchase Begin Thawing the Trade War? thumbnail

Will China’s Recent Soybean Purchase Begin Thawing the Trade War?

With the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service announcing a purchase of 204,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans by private Chinese importers, there are hopes that the trade war is beginning to dissipate. Seeing that the last significant purchase of U.S. soybeans by China was in June, professional traders see the September acquisitions as a potential weakening of the U.S.-China trade war. With the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service announcing more than 600,000 tons of U.S. soybeans purchased by private Chinese operators on Sept. 13, 16 and 17, there are signs of positive movement between the two nations. The shipments are expected to leave between October and December from ports in the Pacific Northwest. Looking at the Chicago Mercantile […]
October 1, 2019
When Full Costing Accounting Makes Sense thumbnail

When Full Costing Accounting Makes Sense

With more than 1.4 million accounting jobs in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many different uses for accountants and their skills. With the need for accuracy and transparency in private and public accounting, one important concept to explore is absorption, or full costing. Absorption or full costing is an accounting method that is used by businesses to determine the complete cost of producing products or services. When it comes to calculating the full cost, there are three main categories taken in account: Direct Costs – How much material, labor, machinery, etc. it costs to produce each product. Total Amount of Fixed Costs – Examples include monthly rent payments, tax payments, base salaries, etc. These are […]
October 1, 2019
How to Get the IRS to Pre-Approve Your Taxes thumbnail

How to Get the IRS to Pre-Approve Your Taxes

It might seem odd, but it is possible to get the IRS to give you a straight-forward and binding answer to ambiguous tax positions in advance. How does this happen, you ask? The answer is through an IRS private letter ruling. IRS private letter rulings provide many benefits, but they are not easy to obtain. There are costs, potential delays, and even then, you run the risk of not being granted a ruling. This dynamic might seem odd as the entire point of applying for a private letter ruling is to obtain certainty. If your position is weak from a tax law perspective, the government could refuse to rule on it. Alternatively, if the position you are seeking is obviously […]
September 1, 2019
5 Money-Saving Ideas for Back-to-School Shopping thumbnail

5 Money-Saving Ideas for Back-to-School Shopping

Just when you’ve finished spending a bunch on swimsuits and stuff for grilling out, summer’s over and it’s time for the kids the head back to school. How did this happen? Here are some ways to cut expenses while shopping for all those inevitable, seemingly never-ending things that the season demands. Create a Budget This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning and well worth it before you enter headlong and breathless into the frenzy of a superstore. Make a list of the things you need before you leave the house, then let your fingers do the walking and check prices online. If all this seems daunting, never fear, there’s an app to help: EveryDollar. It will walk […]
September 1, 2019
The Rise of Biometrics Security and Why You Should Take Precaution thumbnail

The Rise of Biometrics Security and Why You Should Take Precaution

Biometric technology has been on the rise as it promises to make the authentication process more secure and convenient. Unlike passwords and key cards, biometrics are something you will always have, can’t share and can’t forget. This makes the biometric approach convenient and at the same time it has lower password management costs. Biometrics also are said to be difficult to steal or hack; difficult, but not impossible. Any technology can have loopholes that can be exploited, and that’s why you need to understand it well and take precautions if you decide to use this approach. The use of biometrics is not new, but its increased presence in the public domain such as banks makes it a topic of interest. […]
September 1, 2019
The Five Key IRS Rules of Taxation for Lawsuit Settlements thumbnail

The Five Key IRS Rules of Taxation for Lawsuit Settlements

Coming out on the winning side of a lawsuit as a plaintiff can be a gratifying feeling, especially if there is a financial settlement involved. There is likely a sense of both relief and vindication. Unfortunately, far too often people are in for a shock when they realize that they must pay taxes on the award. You can even be taxed on your attorney fees! However, a little tax planning can go a long way, especially if you do it before the settlement is finalized and the award is substantial. Below are the five key rules to know so you can make the right move. The Origin of the Claim Largely Determines the Tax ConsequencesThe taxation of legal settlements is […]
September 1, 2019
How Will Tariff Developments Impact the Stock Market Going Forward? thumbnail

How Will Tariff Developments Impact the Stock Market Going Forward?

According to an Aug. 13 press release from the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), there will be a 10 percent tariff levied against $300 billion of Chinese imports effective Sept. 1. The same press release announced a modification, after hearing from the public and business owners, exempting some of the $300 billion in Chinese imports from the 10 percent tariff until Dec. 15. Items Subject to the 10 Percent Tariff on Sept. 1 Highlights from the USTR’s list include select types of coffee, fruit, vegetables, insects and bees. Along with dairy products, livestock such as sheep, horses and goats are subject to the 10 percent tariff. Items Subject to the 10 Percent Tariff on Dec. 15 The […]
September 1, 2019
Payroll Management Tips thumbnail

Payroll Management Tips

When it comes to an employer’s responsibility for non-exempt workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are many requirements businesses must follow related to payroll. In one example, there are strict regulations on what information employers must document for each non-exempt worker. While there’s no requirement on how the information is recorded, there are three main categories. Personal details: This should include the employee’s name, complete address, Social Security number, date of birth and gender. Job details: This must include the worker’s job description and hours clocked in each day and week. Pay details: The employee’s hourly wage based on straight time, and how employees are compensated – be it hourly, weekly, project or item-based. It should include […]
September 1, 2019
Lost Inheritance: How To Find a Deceased Parent's Assets thumbnail

Lost Inheritance: How To Find a Deceased Parent’s Assets

If you have a relative who recently died and left you in charge of his or her finances, you are not alone. You probably have colleagues at work in the same boat. A neighbor or two (or 10) and even your millennial yoga teacher might very well be working through a quagmire of wills, probates and assets nobody can find. You are definitely not the only one. The internet has made it much easier to keep track of our checking, savings and investment accounts. But the elder generation generally missed out on the convenience of dashboard consolidation and app trackers. What most of them leave behind are file cabinets full of bank statements and old bills, bookshelves of file folders […]
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