October 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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 […]
September 1, 2019

Extending Medicaid Funding, the Debt Limit, Membership into the American Legion, and Support For 9-11 Victims, Law Enforcement Officers, and Breastfeeding Moms

Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019 (HR 3253) – This bill authorizes appropriations through fiscal year 2024 and makes changes to several Medicaid programs and funding mechanisms. Some of the provisions include allowing state Medicaid fraud control units to review complaints regarding noninstitutionalized patients; temporarily extending Medicaid eligibility to protect against spousal poverty for recipients of home and community-based services; repealing the requirement for drug manufacturers to include the prices of authorized generic drugs when determining the average manufacturer price (AMP) of brand name drugs; and excluding manufacturers from the definition of “wholesalers” for purposes of rebate calculations. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). It was introduced on June 13 and signed into law by the […]
August 1, 2019

Pass It On: Accounting Tips to Share With Kids

It’s never too early to helps kids understand accounting – the concepts of earning and spending. Here are a few ways to teach your little ones about how money works and even have a little fun. Play Money Games One way to explain the principles is by playing games like Monopoly and The Game of Life. However, if you want to be more homegrown and less commercial, bake some cookies, bag and price them, and turn your kitchen into a store. You might even get a toy cash register and calculators to make the whole experience more authentic. Then record the earnings, expenses and profits. This will really give children a “taste” of accounting! Create a Family Budget When sharing […]
August 1, 2019

How the Accountant Role has Morphed with Technology, and What New Skills are Necessary

Accountants are no strangers to inventions. Known inventions such as the abacus, calculators and computers have helped complete tasks quickly and in less time. However, today’s technology is complex and is reshaping the world of accounting. Such new technologies include big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, block chain, payment systems, mobility and social collaboration, among many others. How Technology has Changed the Accounting Industry Accounting, a traditional field, has not been immune to technological innovations. Initially, an accounting department would rely on IT leaders to make its technology decisions. Today, CFOs are increasingly taking part in decision making when it comes to the implementation of new technologies. These changes are due to technological innovations in the accounting industry that have […]
August 1, 2019

3 Big Tax Issues to Look Out for in Your Estate Plan

There are three big tax issues that can derail an otherwise well-executed estate plan. These include Family Limited Partnerships, Revocable Trust Swap Powers and Trust Situs. Below we explore the pitfalls with each issue. Fixing FLPs Family Limited Partnerships (FLP) are often created to hold investments or business assets in order to leverage a valuation discount, exert control and provide asset protection. First, to understand the valuation discount, take the example in which an FLP owned a family business valued at $10 million. A straight 25 percent interest in this business would therefore be worth $2.5 million. However, due to valuation discounts for a non-controlling interest that would not be readily available for sale or able to control liquidation, the […]
August 1, 2019

How Will the July 17, 2019 Beige Book Impact the Economy?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently met at the close of July, bringing to light many questions on the Federal Reserve’s future monetary policy. While there was much speculation that the Fed would lower the federal funds rate at its most recent meeting, there are many factors impacting this decision. One relevant factor is the Beige Book. Understanding what the Beige Book is and how it’s factored into the FOMC’s decisions gives us a better understanding of our economy.    What is the Beige Book? According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, one survey of the U.S. economy is done through the Beige Book. Put out by the Fed eight times annually, it aggregates economic […]
August 1, 2019

Understanding and Applying Accounting Reports and Ratios

When it comes to tracking incoming sales and outgoing expenses, there are many ways businesses can keep up with their invoices and implement strategies to reduce the time they spend on unpaid sales. Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio Simply defined, the accounts receivable turnover ratio is a way of showing what percent of a company’s receivables or invoices are paid by clients.  The U.S. Small Business Administration explains this ratio is determined by “dividing average accounts receivable by sales.” Determining average accounts receivable is done by adding the beginning and ending figures — be it a month, quarter or year, then dividing by 2. Determining the sales figure is calculated by taking the total sales still on credit and deducting any […]
August 1, 2019

Proposed Changes For Retirement Plans

Laws regarding retirement savings plans don’t change all that often or all that much. Occasionally, new regulations are issued mandating disclosures that no one ever reads – and inflation-adjusted contribution limits tend to inch up each year. However, there is one phenomenon that has been increasing over the past decade, and Congress is finally starting to address it. This phenomenon is that retirees are living much longer than in the past. According to Olivia Mitchell, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, demographers have reported that the baby who will live to be 200 has already been born. Because few people plan on 40 years (or more) in retirement, increasing numbers of retirees rely solely on Social Security benefits […]
August 1, 2019

Relief for Immigrants, Attempts to Deter Foreign Election Interference and Failed Resolutions to Condemn Foreign Arms Sales

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019 (HR 3401) – This legislation provides $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to federal departments and agencies for humanitarian assistance and security to respond to migrants attempting to enter the United States at the southern border for the rest of the fiscal year. This funding is available for appropriations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Administration for Children and Families. The bill also includes requirements and restrictions for how the funds may be used. It was introduced on June 21 by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and […]
July 1, 2019

Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRS

National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 (S 1693) – This bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire on May 31, through June 14. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on May 23, passed the Senate and the House in one week and was signed into law by the president on May 31. Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (HR 2157) – This bill adds $17.2 billion to this year’s budget for supplemental emergency funding available to many federal departments and agencies for expenses related to wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters. This supplemental funding basically extends the National Flood Insurance Program until Sept. 30, at […]
July 1, 2019

New from Apple: iPhone iOS 13 Upgrades, All-New Mac Pro

During its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 3, Apple introduced a lot of new technology. Here, we will have a look at iPhone iOS13 upgrades and the all-new Mac Pro. iOS 13 The main reason for this upgrade is to have a faster and more secure iPhone. Some of the new features that Apple has added to entice buyers include: New map tools that enable consumers to zoom in on a location and have a tour around the place. A dark mode color scheme that users can switch to, replacing the usual white background. The dark mode helps reduce eye strain that users might experience from using a brightly lit screen. Ability to customize your Memoji avatar. Apple […]
July 1, 2019

How To Use AI For HR

There is a lot of new technology being used to automate functions and save money in large corporations, but many small organizations are shut out of those advancements. This is largely because of the cost, training, knowledge and resources it requires to take advantage of such new technology. But while small business owners might not be able to afford such advances, it’s good to keep up with what’s going on in the tech world – particularly innovations that can help a business owner automate processes and save money on personnel expenses. One such advancement is how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used for human resources functions. For example, automated processes that adapt to situations can be useful with recruitment, onboarding […]
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