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Why business owners should regularly upgrade their accounting software

Many business owners buy accounting software and, even if the installation goes well, eventually grow frustrated when they don’t get the return on investment they’d expected. There’s a simple reason for this: Stuff changes. Technological improvements are occurring at a breakneck speed. So yesterday’s cutting-edge system can quickly become today’s sluggishly performing albatross. And this isn’t the only reason to regularly upgrade your accounting software. Here are two more to consider. 1. Cleaning up You’ve probably heard that old tech adage, “garbage in, garbage out.” The “garbage” referred to is bad data. If inaccurate or garbled information goes into your system, the reports...

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Seasonal business? Optimize your operating cycle

Every business has some degree of ups and downs during the year. But cash flow fluctuations are much more intense for seasonal businesses. So, if your company defines itself as such, it’s important to optimize your operating cycle to anticipate and minimize shortfalls. A high-growth example To illustrate: Consider a manufacturer and distributor of lawn-and-garden products such as topsoil, potting soil and ground cover. Its customers are lawn-and-garden retailers, hardware stores and mass merchants. The company’s operating cycle starts when customers place orders in the fall — nine months ahead of its peak selling season. So the business begins amassing product in the...

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Keep Your Employees Motivated This Summer

Workplace Flexibility and Changes to Daily Routines May Help Keep Employees Focused The warm weather and eagerly anticipated outdoor activities of summer may take a toll on your workers' concentration. If you're noticing a lack of focus among your employees during this time of year, consider the following ideas to help keep them motivated: Encourage your employees to step outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Exposure to natural sunlight can prevent workers from feeling confined to the office during the warm summer months. Holding business meetings outside may also help to boost workers' morale. Change things up! Employees may become more...

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New Expiration Date for Health Insurance Exchange Notices is May 31, 2020

Model Notices Previously Set to Expire on May 31, 2017 The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has extended the effective date of its model Health Insurance Exchange Notices through May 31, 2020. Previously, these model notices were set to expire on May 31, 2017. No other changes have been made to these notices. Click here to access the model notices with the new expiration date. Please note that there are two separate notices--one for employers that offer a health plan to some or all employees, and another for employers that do not offer a health plan. These model notices...

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IRS ‘Pay or Play’ Estimator Available

As a reminder, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service) has developed a tool to assist employers in understanding how the Affordable Care Act's employer shared responsibility ("pay or play") provisions work and how the provisions may apply to them. Employer Shared Responsibility Provision Estimator Employers can use the Taxpayer Advocate Service's Employer Shared Responsibility Provision Estimator tool to determine their: Number of full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (FTEs);Applicable large employer (ALE) status; and Applicable large employer (ALE) status; and Estimated maximum amount of potential liability for the employer shared responsibility payment. The homepage for the tool provides additional information...

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It may be time for your company to create a strategic IT plan

Many companies take an ad hoc approach to technology. If you’re among them, it’s understandable; you probably had to automate some tasks before others, your tech needs have likely evolved over time, and technology itself is always changing. Unfortunately, all of your different hardware and software may not communicate so well. What’s worse, lack of integration can leave you more vulnerable to security risks. For these reasons, some businesses reach a point where they decide to implement a strategic IT plan. Setting objectives The objective of a strategic IT plan is to — over a stated period — roll out consistent, integrated, and...

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Could stronger governance benefit your business?

Every company has at least one owner. And, in many cases, there exists leadership down through the organizational chart. But not every business has strong governance. In a nutshell, governance is the set of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. Strengthening it can help ensure productivity, reduce legal risks and, when the time comes, ease ownership transitions. Looking at business structure Good governance starts with the initial organization (or reorganization) of a business. Corporations, for example, are required by law to have a board of directors and officers and to observe certain other formalities. So this entity...

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Internships Most Often Considered “Employment” by DOL

Employers planning to hire interns this summer should keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has stated that private sector internships are most often considered "employment" subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime rules. The Test for Unpaid Interns There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in for-profit private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances. The DOL uses the following six criteria which must be applied when...

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Enhance benefits’ perceived value with strong communication

Providing a strong package of benefits is a competitive imperative in today’s business world. Like many employers, you’ve probably worked hard to put together a solid menu of offerings to your staff. Unfortunately, many employees don’t perceive the full value of the benefits they receive. Why is this important? An underwhelming perception of value could cause good employees to move on to “greener” pastures. It could also inhibit better job candidates from seeking employment at your company. Perhaps worst of all, if employees don’t fully value their benefits, they might not fully use them — which means you’re wasting dollars and...

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Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions Under the Affordable Care Act

The IRS has updated its existing Q&As on the Affordable Care Act's employer shared responsibility ("pay or play") requirements to reflect adjustments to the pay or play penalty and affordability amounts. Those adjustments are as follows: For calendar year 2017, the applicable per-employee dollar penalties of $2,000 and $3,000 are adjusted to $2,260 and $3,390, respectively. For plan years beginning in 2017, the affordability threshold for purposes of both the pay or play affordability safe harbors and the premium tax credit provisions is 9.69%. The Q&As also address what counts as an "offer of coverage" for purposes of pay or play compliance. Click...

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