Monthly Archives: December 2013

Business Forms of Organization: FAQs

Scarsdale tax preparers at Herman & Company CPAs have all the answers to your personal finance questions!

Business Entity and Tax FAQs from Scarsdale NY accountant

Don’t let your business be a gamble when it comes to your taxes.

The following are FAQs our Westchester accounting experts regularly receive regarding business forms of organization and how to approach them. 

▼ Will some types of business organization or entity limit my liability to business creditors?

Yes. Limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and corporations are the most common forms. General partnerships and sole proprietorships don’t restrict owners’ liability, whereas limited partnerships limit liability of some partners (such as limited partners) and not others (like general partners).

▼ How can I avoid the “corporate double tax” and what exactly is it?

A “corporate double tax” happens when a business corporation (or an entity that is treated as a business corporation for tax purposes) pays a federal tax on its income, and then its owners pay another tax as they collect corporate profits. The “entity level tax” is the tax on the corporation and so an entity taxed in this way is called a “C corporation” or C corp.

Here are ways to avoid the double tax:

  • Become an S corporation, which doesn’t change the nature of the business under state business law but rather eliminates federal tax at the corporate level.
  • The second tax, which is on the owners, can be deferred by suspending profit distributions to corporate owners.
▼ For tax purposes, what type of business entity is best?

Each business is different, although to save on overall taxes a “passthrough” entity is generally best, as it eliminates tax at the entity level. Owners of passthrough entities are taxed on the profits of the entity that they own. Owners are able to make tax deductions for startup and operating losses, against the income from other businesses or investments.

▼ What entities are considered to be “passthrough”?

The leading “passthrough” forms are limited partnerships, LLCs, LLPs, S corps, sole proprietorships and general partnerships. You have a lot of power over whether or not your entity is treated as a passthrough for federal tax purposes.

If you have a partnership of any type or a limited liability company, it is possible to choose if your business functions as a corporation or partnership for tax purposes. This is called the “check-the-box” system by tax and business advisors. You can qualify to have it treated as a passthrough by choosing S corp. status if your entity is incorporated or if you elect to be treated as a corporation.

This decision is binding. This means if you select one entity one year and a different one the next, you will have to pay the taxes as though last year’s entity was sold and use those profits towards this year.

▼ To avoid double tax and limit my liability, which entity should I choose?

Assuming you don’t select to have them function as corporations, the following types will avoid double tax and limit liability: LLPs, LLCs, and limited partnerships (only for the limited partners). An S Corporation is usually another option. If you are a sole owner, the only option is an S Corp (or in certain states, LLCs).

▼ Why are limited liability companies (LLCs) so great?

Limited liability and passthrough tax treatment are both combined in LLCs. This provides benefits that are unavailable from S Corps. The main benefits are:

  • The possibility of greater loss deductions.
  • Tax benefits can be disproportionately distributed among owners.
  • When a new owner becomes a member of the business, or when allocations are given to owners in business liquidation, taxes are avoided or reduced.

LLCs are sometimes permitted to have a single owner – laws vary by state. If permitted, the owner has the opportunity to elect to be under the check-the-box rules.

A good alternative where sole ownership LLCs aren’t permitted is an S Corp. This structure will also defer tax, in comparison to LLCs, when a corporate giant is buying out the business.

▼ If my business is a professional practice, what are the special conditions?

A major concern is the limitation of liability, especially malpractice liability. Against the liability of your own malpractice, there is no entity that will protect you. For protection against liability for malpractice of co-owner professionals in the firm and possibly for other debts, Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs), LLCs, and LLPs, when accessible for professional practices, should be used. Depending on the state law, Professionals Corporations (PCs) might not offer protection from liability for a co-owner’s malpractice.

LLPs, PLLCs, and LLCs all have about the same tax rules that govern them while those for PCs are a little more liberal.

 If I change my form of business organization, what are the federal tax consequences?

A change of entity is an event that may need to be carefully planned and implemented to avoid a taxable event. It also may have significant future tax implications. You should consult with a professional before making any changes or decisions to your business organization.

 Is it necessary for state business entity rules to follow federal tax rules?

Bear in mind the differences between state tax law and state business law. Whatever tax status you select for your entity beneath the federal check-the-box system, keep in mind that you may be considered a different type of entity for state business law purposes. This means that if you choose corporate tax treatment for a partnership, it will not necessarily bring corporate limited liability.

A state normally treats the entity selected under federal check-the-box as the entity acknowledged for state tax purposes, but this is not always the case.

The law of a state may agree to passthrough status for an entity like an S Corp or an LLC, but still enforce some sort of tax on the entity.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions about these provisions or any other tax compliance/planning issues, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Mamaroneck NY, Armonk NY, Rye NY, Scarsdale NY, Tarrytown NY, Chappaqua NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

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Financing FAQs

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions! business loan tips from westchester accountantThe following are FAQs our Westchester accounting firm regularly receives regarding options for different situations that may require financing.

▼ What can I do to raise money for my small business?

Although the process is complex and frustrating, raising capital is the most basic of all business activities. When looking for financing, there are various sources to consider. For most new businesses, the main source of capital comes from savings and other forms of personal resources. There are better options available than credit cards that are often used for financing, even a small business loan.

When beginning, entrepreneurs usually look to private sources like friends and family. Generally, the money is loaned at a low interest rate or interest free, which is very beneficial at the beginning.

The most common source of funding, not including personal resources, are credit unions and banks who will provide a loan if it is possible to show that your offer is worthwhile. Other sources are venture capital firms that aid businesses in exchange for partial or equity ownership.

 For business financing, what kinds of loans exist?

You must know the exact amount of money that you need, what your purpose is and how you will repay it in order to be successful in getting a loan. You must convince the lender in a written proposal that you are a good credit risk.

There are two basic kinds of loans, although terms vary by lender:

Short-term and long-term, maturity periods of up to one year are generally short-term, which include accounts receivable loans, working capital loans and lines of credit.

Maturities greater than a year and less than seven years is a typical long-term loan. Equipment and real estate loans can have maturity up to 25 years. Major business expenses such as purchasing real estate and facilities, durable equipment, construction, vehicles, furniture and fixtures, etc. are a few purposes for long-term loans.

▼ When considering a loan request, what do banks look for?

The bank official who reviews the loan request is focused on repayment. Most loan officers request a copy of your business credit report to determine your ability to repay.

The lending officer will consider the following issues while using the information you provided and the credit report:

  • Have you invested at least 25% or 50% of savings or personal equity into the business for the loan you are requesting? (Keep in mind that 100% of your business will not be financed by an investor.)
  • Do your work history, your credit report and letters of recommendation show a healthy record of credit worthiness? This is a key factor.
  • Do you have the training and experience necessary to operate a successful business?
  • Do your loan proposal and business plan document your knowledge of and dedication to the success of the business?
  • Is the cash flow of the business sufficient to make the monthly payments on the requested loan?

▼ What do I need to include in a good loan proposal?

The following main points should be contained in a good loan proposal:

General Information

  • Reason for the loan: the exact purpose of the loan and why it is necessary.
  • Amount needed: the specific amount needed to reach your goal.
  • Business name and address, names of officers and their social security numbers.

Description of Business

  • Describe the type of business you have, its age, current business assets, and number of employees.
  • Structure of ownership: describe the legal structure of the company.

Management Profile

  • Prepare a short statement that is focused on each principal in your business; give details about education, background, accomplishments and skills.

Market Information

  • State clearly the products of your company as well as its markets. Name the competition and explain how you plan to compete in the market. Describe what the business will do to satisfy the needs of its customers.

Financial Information

  • Submit your own personal financial statements as well as those of the principal business owners.
  • Financial statements: the income statements and balance sheets for the past three years. If you have a new business, provide the projected balance sheet and income statement.
  • Specify the collateral that you are able and willing to give as security for the loan.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions about these provisions or any other tax compliance/planning issues, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford NY, Bronxville NY, Purchase NY, Rye Brook NY, Larchmont NY, Pound Ridge NY, Scarsdale NY, Stamford CT and beyond. 

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Life Situations and Finances: FAQs

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman has all the answers to your personal finance questions!

Personal finance faqs from westchester accountant paul herman

Save money with these handy tips!

 

The following are common “life situations” that many of us find ourselves in at one point or another. Get to know these common questions and concerns to save big!

 

The following are a few ways to lessen your bank fees:

 

  • Look into what is necessary to get free checking and free ATM usage and do it. This is typically done by having a minimum balance and only using your bank’s ATMs. Another thought is joining a credit union instead of a bank as they generally charge less for banking services.
  • Investigate how to invest in higher interest accounts. Determine how much money you would need in case of an emergency and roughly six month’s worth of expenses and keep that amount in your savings. Take the rest of you money and make it work for you.
  • Don’t order checks through your bank. Generally speaking, check printers charge less than the printers employed by the bank.
▼ What can I do to save money on my insurance costs?

These tips will help you save on all types of insurance:

  • Shop around for your life insurance policy. Take the time it takes to periodically check the prices on different policies, as it will pay off in the end. If you have recently quit smoking, you will probably be able to get better rates in a few years.
  • Evaluate your needs in terms of life insurance to see whether you are being charged too much for coverage.
  • Use the same insurer for home and auto insurance, as you will more than likely get a break.
  • Look around for auto insurance to find the best possible rate.
  • Save on your homeowner’s insurance by installing burglar alarms, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. Consult an insurance agent to learn more.
  • Do away with private mortgage insurance. Ask your lender to cancel this as soon as you have enough equity in the home (this is required by law).
▼ What can I do to cut my utility costs?

These are a few tips to remember to help save money with utility costs:

  • See if your utility has a subsidizing program to make your home more energy-efficient. If that turns up nothing, you can still caulk your windows and check the insulation to make sure it has a high enough “R” factor.
  • Use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs for lights that are constantly on.
  • Maintain the thermostat at the highest and lowest temperature for comfort in the summer and winter, respectively.
▼ What can I do to reduce the cost of my phone bill?

There are many opportunities due to today’s cost-cutting competition among phone service providers, such as:

  • Verify that your long-distance charges are competitively priced. Research which long-distance carrier will give you the best rate and switch if you are not with that carrier.
  • Use the phone book instead of dialing “Information.”
  • If you have children at home, block all “900″ numbers.
  • Stay in touch with relatives and friends through e-mail.
▼ What can I do to reduce the cost of my mortgage?

The options that follow will help in reducing the cost of your mortgage:

  • Think about paying down your mortgage. This is an effective way for saving and raising net worth for many people. Make a decision to pay a specific amount more than the mortgage principal and faithfully stick to it.
  • Think about refinancing your mortgage. Determine if refinancing your mortgage will save you money. Calculate to see if the costs for refinancing are worth a reduction in your monthly payments. If you intend to remain in the house for at least five years, the common guideline is that at least two points reduction will make it worthwhile to refinance.

Our Scarsdale tax preparers here at Herman & Company CPA’s are here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions about these provisions or any other tax compliance/planning issues, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Larchmont NY, Mamaroneck NY, Bronxville NY, Scarsdale NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

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Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.