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The Government Shutdown & Your Tax Refund

It’s now day 28 of the longest shutdown of our federal government in history… and tax filing season is about to begin. Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Charlie Heid tackled the topic in his monthly appearance on WTOL-TV.

Charlie says the good news is that all indications are right now that we won’t see a delay in getting our tax returns. The IRS says it has called back to work from furlough about 46 thousand workers, over half of its workforce, to process our tax returns. But it’s not exactly business as usual… Charlie says there are a few things we need to know.

#1: As of right now, the IRS helpline isn’t there as a backup to answer your questions. The government shutdown has closed that phone support service. If you call the IRS 1-800 helpline you’ll just get a recording saying it isn’t available. The IRS just announced earlier this week that it plans to open the call center back up with limited personnel in the coming days…but says if you do call, you need to expect long wait times. Also, IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers are closed.

#2: This is the first year we’re filing our tax returns under an overhauled tax code… the biggest changes we’ve dealt with in decades. There’s a new 1040 form, with schedules attached. People are going to have a lot of questions… and they just need to be prepared for the fact that, if the government shutdown continues, they may not be able to reach the IRS for help.

Charlie recommends that people file earlier rather than later. That way if you get stuck on something, you have time to do some research and figure it out before the April 15 deadline.

Something else to keep in mind: the dollar amount of your tax refund could look different this year because of the new law. Tax reform has drastically changed exemptions, deductions, etc. People who are used to getting a certain amount back every year could have a rude awakening. For example, someone who typically gets a refund of $3,000 could wind up with a much smaller refund… or could even owe money. That’s why the IRS has been encouraging people all year to get with their employers to double check that the right amount of tax is being taken out of their paychecks. Charlie says those who haven’t done could have an unwelcome surprise.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the biggest changes in the tax law for the 2018 tax filing year:   

  • Bigger standard deduction
  • Capped deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000
  • Increased child tax credit

Tax filing season starts January 28… that’s a week from Monday. That means the IRS will be accepting and processing tax returns starting January 28th. Charlie says you should file electronically with direct deposit if possible. The IRS says that will speed up the process… and if you are getting a refund, you’ll see it sooner.    

CPA Charlie Heid is a partner specializing in tax services, who joined Gilmore Jasion Mahler in 2002. He serves clients across many industries, with a focus on manufacturing & distribution. Charlie appears monthly on WTOL-TV to discuss tax and money issues.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

The CPA Sharpshooter

This week begins my favorite of all our many firm activities, the GJM Pistol Team and our entry in the Winter Pistol League.

Ever since I was 12 and got my first air rifle (similar to the Daisy Red Ryder pictured here) and my Dad started teaching me the basics of marksmanship, I have loved target shooting. Back then, it was usually shooting tin cans off the backyard fence. One time I used a beer bottle instead, but this makes a terrible mess and is not recommended. Eventually I learned a little bit about real target shooting, got a couple of pistols, and now I’m the Equipment Manager and general Sherpa for the firm’s own pistol team.

We’ve been doing this for a while now – this will be the eighth year we’ve fielded a team, and interest and participation in it continue to grow. Team Audit has won the Grand Interdepartmental Championship four times out of the previous seven seasons (including last year), though co-captain Hannah Nowak hails from the Tax group, and has won the individual championship three of the four years she’s participated. Last year 28 different shooters joined us at least once, and by the end of the season we had to turn people away for lack of available roster spots.

This got me to thinking, why I and so many accountants enjoy target shooting, and why some of us are pretty good at it. In shooting and in accounting there is a mindset of being able to break a problem down into its components. For a seemingly simple process (point and squeeze!), target shooting has a lot of little details to it. “Go and shoot bullseyes” is a bit overbroad as coaching goes, but helping a new shooter see that there are separate components of a good shot – sight picture, grip, breath, trigger control, consistency, and finally physical conditioning – is a lot like helping a client understand why operations cash flow isn’t what it could be. The golfers at the firm probably feel the same way about breaking down the parts of their swing – but if you’ve ever seen me golf, all I can say is, sorry you had to see that, and I do better with the shooting at saltines than I do swinging at the little white ball. 

One of the concepts we like to emphasize in client discussions is continuous improvement – there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, and it’s usually not possible to bridge that gap in a single stride. So what do we do? Instead of stressing because of the distance to travel, we break the process into more manageable pieces, tackle them in succession, and strive to be making continuous improvements that will get us there eventually. I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be as a shooter, but in the past year I’ve worked on my grip – mainly just how hard to squeeze the pistol, and doing it consistently shot after shot. My breathing and trigger control are finally reasonably good, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this season goes now that I’ve (hopefully) improved my grip consistency as well. Continuous improvement!

We all excel in different ways and I appreciate the fact that the firm supports our participation in a sport that’s a little outside the norm for an accounting firm. If we’re honest I probably enjoy the coaching these days more than the shooting itself, harking back to when my Dad taught me the basics of marksmanship when I was 12. So if your son or daughter starts plinking tin cans or crafts a homemade slingshot, just know that it’s harder to shoot out your eye than the movies would have you believe, and that you may have a future accountant on your hands!

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Ken Sagesse contributed this blog. Ken is a partner in the Assurance Department who joined Gilmore Jasion Mahler in 2006. A member of the firm’s Construction and Real Estate Specialist Team, Ken’s area of expertise is affordable housing, though he works with many clients across the construction industry. He is a member of the National Leased Housing Association.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Business Valuation: In Depth Report or Not?

Do you need to figure out what your business is worth? If you’re looking into getting a business valuation, you have some decisions to make. Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM) Partner Jeff Denning specializes in business valuation and says you could pursue a detailed (possibly 100 page) report, or a less detailed report. Which one do you need? Jeff has some answers in our most recent video blog.

Learn more about Jeff’s expertise in business valuation and GJM's forensic services, and don’t forget to sign up for our free quarterly newsletter The Expert. It offers timely and helpful articles with a focus on business valuation and litigation support. Just click here for quick and easy sign up.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm's professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities

How to Talk About Tariffs With Your Customers

tariffsThe imposition of tariffs by the American government on different regions like China, Canada, and the European Union has widespread ramifications for businesses in the United States. These tariffs and their trickle-down effect are likely to impact the pricing involved in your business dealings and, subsequently, the rates you charge to your customers. But how do you explain these changes to them?

Explain the Background

If you're having a talk with customers about tariff effects, it's important to understand what is happening in your industry and why. Familiarize yourself with the motivations and events that have led to the tariff imposition. Make sure you synthesize the direct impacts on your specific business as well. For example, in the manufacturing sector, steel and aluminum were one of the earlier commodities targeted in this trade war. If your company uses or sells steel or aluminum, be ready with an explanation of your price increases. Don't just say, "It's the tariffs," without providing your customers with tangible details.

Have a Conversation

You’ll want to spend time with valued customers and give a personal explanation. The more time you can take to talk, answer questions, and address concerns personally, the better off you'll be. The worst thing you can do is adjust your pricing without notice or an explanation. No one wants to be kept in the dark with financial changes, so prepare for both a conversation as well as a written statement.

Prepare a Letter

In addition to having a personalized talk, if you haven't done so already, you should also provide something on the record, like a letter that you can send in an email and post to your website. This statement is something you can use either as the groundwork for a conversation or as a follow-up to one, but ideally, you will provide both to your customer. Your letter should be personalized and to the point. Here’s a sample letter to work from:

 

Dear [Client],

We’re happy to report that we enjoyed [X amount] of revenue with you last month, and look forward to continued success in the future. [Personalize a few lines to the specific client by talking about their business, their interests, your history, and so on.]

We're making some changes that we hope will raise the bar on our services and yield even better results. Your business is important to us, and we need to continually improve our operations and stay abreast of economic developments to make sure we remain competitive.

In keeping with this strategy and in light of tariffs imposed on [X], we'll be changing the rates on some of our products/services [Choose which is relevant and elaborate you wish] to ensure that as the market evolves, we are ready to help you stay ahead of competitors. To see the changes, you can find updated prices and packages here [Link to your website and/or list them within the letter].

We understand that you're likely to want clarification or more details, and we're more than happy to provide them. We are always available for questions and concerns, so please reach out here [Email or phone number]. We look forward to hearing from you and furthering a productive relationship.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Stay Informed

Trade wars affect businesses at all levels, but they don't last forever. In the meantime, however, if you want to make sure you know what's happening and how it will affect your business, we're here for you. Reach out to your GJM team to start the discussion.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Is it Time to Outsource Your Business Accounting?

Running a business isn’t for sissies. You bring in good people to manage the office, handle human resources and oversee the financials for you, but in the end, you know you’re ultimately responsible.

Did you double check that last invoice that went out to your best customer? What’s the balance on your business loan? How much cash is available right now? 

What if you could stop fretting over questions like that and know someone’s got your back around the clock? That’s the basic concept behind Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services. We’ll call it the best of both worlds: a team of specialists is on the job, and you get to see the numbers anytime you want right on your cell phone.

Your team is there to answer questions, advise you on business decisions, if desired, and yes, to handle the books.

Advances in technology are changing the way many businesses handle the business manager role at the office. That includes many healthcare entities, including physician and dental practices. Many are embracing the technology, letting a specialized team handle the work, and turning their attention to growth strategy and other priorities. Outsourced accounting can also be an excellent fit for nonprofit organizations struggling to fill positions with knowledgeable, capable individuals.

Picture this: real time financial key performance indicators you can see any time of the day or night on your cell phone or other device. More importantly, a team of professionals working with you who not only look at today’s numbers, but help you plan and strategize for the future.

Some key benefits to outsourced accounting with Gilmore Jasion Mahler:

  1. Stop struggling to fill that internal business manager role (seems like there’s always an opening, doesn’t it?).
  2. Real time data at your fingertips around the clock whether you’re in the office or the sidelines of your daughter’s soccer game.
  3. A team consisting of accounting specialists, including a GJM partner, to handle the business finances and also guide and advise on other important financial decisions as needed.
  4. Dashboard view of your financials via leading edge accounting software platform Sage/Intacct.

Interested in learning more about Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Outsourced Accounting Services? Read up on our team's capabilities. You can also contact our Accounting Specialist Team to start the conversation.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Judy Anderson, CPA contributed this blog. Judy leads the GJM Outsourced Accounting Specialist Team. With over 20 years of experience in public accounting and private industry, Judy works with clients across a number of industries, including healthcare, nonprofit, and professional services.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.