ACA Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) Brings Complexity To Tax and HR

There are many changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   We’d like to thank our valued strategic partner Ankur Khosla-Ghandi with PAYCHEX for the following information regarding the Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provisions that are almost here. Are your clients prepared to comply with the new guidelines?

An important part of the ESR provisions is the End of Year (EOY) reporting requirement that provides details on the insurance coverage that was offered to full-time employees.

  • Employers who are considered Applicable Large Employers (50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents) based on their 2014 calendar year workforce, are required to begin reporting ESR information to the IRS for calendar year 2015, using Forms 1094-C (employer transmittal statement) and 1095-C (employee statement).
  • Form 1094-C and 1095-C must be filed with the IRS each year no later than February 28 or, if filing electronically, by March 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the return applies. Form 1095-C must be provided to full-time employees on or before January 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the statements apply.

For tax year 2014, reporting for Applicable Large Employers is optional but recommended. The idea for reporting for this year is to ease the transition when reporting becomes required for the 2015 tax year.

Rely on Paychex for Help with ESR Provisions

Paychex has the answers, information and solutions to help you and your clients with all ESR provisions, including EOY reporting requirements. These solutions include the following, and additional fees may apply:

  • Applicable Large Employer Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex helps track and calculate the number of full-time employees and full-time equivalents (FTEs) for payroll clients, to help determine if an employer is subject to ESR provisions.
  • Full-Time Employee Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists payroll clients in determining which employees may subject the employer to potential ESR penalties if they do not offer adequate and affordable coverage. The analysis shows measurement periods, administrative periods, and subsequent stability periods to determine full-time employees as outlined in the ESR provisions.
  • Coverage Adequacy Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists clients who have their insurance provided through Paychex Insurance Agency or Paychex PEO with assessing the adequacy of their health coverage by evaluating whether it provides minimum essential coverage, minimum actuarial value, and affordable coverage according to ESR provisions.
  • Year-End Reporting Requirements. Beginning in 2015, Paychex will assist clients with filing and preparation of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

Health Care Reform Presents Overwhelming Complexity – Rely on Paychex to Help.

Contact: Ankur Khosla-Gandhi for more information or assistance:

801-999-0881
akhosla@pachex.com

Anticipating 2014 Social Media Changes

social-mediaTechnology is moving at breakneck speeds, and it’s changed the way businesses market their services.  And because social media is an effective marketing tool, it’s important to anticipate how it’s evolving so that we can take advantage of this powerful technology.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, social media blogger Rick Mulready shares “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.”  Here we pass on three we believe can impact your business for the better in the New Year:

1. A shift toward visual storytelling through short-form video.   Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram’s 15-second videos have become extremely prevalent and demonstrate the popularity of short videos that share a story.  Mulready expects this to become an effective marketing tool if businesses use them right.

2. Businesses will embrace the ‘fandom.’  I recently attended a ComiCon where I witnessed just how far fans will go to celebrate the movies, comic books, television series and video games they love.  The same holds true for your die-hard fans; they can be the most effective marketing tool.  As Mulready explains, “Connecting with and giving these fans the tools to help them spread the word about your business will go a long way.”

3. Google + will continue to grow in size and importance.  I remember the day I became frustrated enough with Facebook to open a Google + account in hopes of making a permanent move in social media platforms.  I was disappointed to discover that not many of my friends had made the same move.  That seems to be changing.  Mulready says that “Google + now has 300 million active users.”  While that’s dwarfed by Facebook’s 1.2 billion active users, it’s taking the lead of Twitters 232 million active users.  So as Google improves its services, it promises to become only more popular in 2014 which will bode well for your marketing plan.

While some small-business owners would rather use old-school methods for marketing their services, that’s not the most effective approach.  In this day and age of high-tech professionals, it only makes sense that you connect with them using the social media they frequent with the tools they find most appealing.  Take the time to create a social media plan for your business that will enable you to increase your prospective client base in 2014.

FREE Universal Resources

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more ways to virtually connect with colleagues and prospective clients, consider taking advantage of our other free resources; join our free accounting and tax forumsfollow us on Twitter and like us on FaceBook.  You’ll be surprised at how Universal’s virtual community will enable you to stay in-the-know.

Resource

Mulready, Rick.  “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.” 16 December 2013 Entrepreneur.com

10-Point Startup Checklist

checklistIf you’ve been thinking about launching a startup, you should know the steps required to successfully get your business up and running.  Whether you plan to operate your practice full or part-time, it’s important that you have a plan. 

The following checklist will help you perform all the startup tasks in the proper order:

1. Name Your Business.  Recognize that naming your business is just the beginning of creating a brand for yourself.  Put some serious thought into your business name in order to best appeal to your target market.

2. Create a business plan.  Without a business plan you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to truly plan all the necessary details, building a foundation for your success.  Read up on how to create a successful business plan.

3. Create a marketing plan.  No matter how good you are at tax preparation, you still have to focus some of your energy on marketing; if you don’t do any marketing, you’ll have no one to do any tax preparation for. So what do you do? You create a marketing plan to go along with your business plan.

4. Determine your business entity.   There’s no one right or wrong answer when matching your business to the right business entity. Sometimes just a little knowledge can ensure that you make the best choice for you.

5.   Determine your business location.  The most important element in picking the right location is finding a place that will allow you to be productive and focus on your work.  If you’ve decided to lease an office, take the time to research an appropriate area. Is there a room in your house that could be dedicated to your new business?  Weigh the pros and cons and pick a place that works for your current situation and budget.

6. Make it legal.  It’s important to start your business off on the right foot.  File the proper papers and pay the required fees.  It’s also not a bad idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re headed in not only right direction, but a law-abiding one. 

7. Open the necessary bank accounts.  Establishing business accounts will streamline your accounting processes.  In this, you avoid the hassle of trying to distinguish personal transactions from business transactions.

8. Organize your office.   Your office should provide you with a productive and favorable work environment.  Generally this means it should also be well organized and professional.  For more information on setting up your office, read our two-part series on office organization.

9. Launch a website.  One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you can actually work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

10. Spread the word and open your doors.  It’s important that you get the word out about your new practice.  When marketing your startup, make sure you use proven strategies that work for your unique target market. 

Improve Your Odds for Success

Most of your competitors don’t offer specialized small-business accounting services.  But after completing the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) program, you can!  Consider a training program that is catered to your needs and busy schedule—one that will enable you to earn a professional designation after just 60 hours of your valuable time.

When you enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper Program you receive to the following:

  • Flexible training you complete on your own schedule
  • Rich and engaging training DVDs you can view again and again
  • Hands-on instruction and practice sets through which you gain much-needed experience
  • Training in building and marketing your new practice
  • 6 months of valuable follow-up support
  • The opportunity to earn professional certification
  • Our iron-clad risk-free guarantee 

Expand your service offerings by enrolling in UAC’s valuable Professional Bookkeeper Program.  Call 1-877-833-7908 to enroll today!

A Successful Business Website

8 Tips in Turning Your Site into a Marketing Force

If you don’t already have a website, you should get one. Progressive businesses have an internet presence; it speaks volumes of their professionalism and ability to keep up with current trends. A good website will represent you well and increase your clientele. It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you spend your time doing what you do best: tax preparation. And if well developed, your business website can act as an inexpensive marketing tool and a good point of contact. It can also help to further brand your business.As you consider building a new website or enhancing a current one, refer to the following 8 tips in turning your site into a marketing force:

1. Clearly state who you are and what you do.

While most visitors will probably land on your website because you gave them your URL or they performed an internet search on tax preparers, there will be some who will immediately want to know who you are and what you do. This information should be easy to access from your homepage. Also be sure to include easy-to-find contact information. Your website’s ultimate objective is to enable people to retain your services. They can’t do that unless they know who you are and how to contact you.

2. Ensure your website is easily accessible.

You want your target market to be able to access your website with ease. This means you must design it in such a way that your typical visitor would be able to download your site without expending too much time or energy. And no matter what you do, test your site to ensure others can access it without any problems. This will require you to test the site on different computers using different browsers, but it will be well worth your time.

3. Use a clean, professional design.

How do you respond to Power Point Presentations with neon text, flashing graphics, and nifty rollover effects? It may be hypnotic at first, but can quickly become distracting. While you want your site to be visually appealing, you need to remember that your content is on display, not the clever programming.

Your navigation should also be clear. The internet is all about quick and easy access to data. If your navigation slows users down, chances are they won’t hang around to find the information they’re looking for; they’ll go to a website that’s more transparent.

4. Include valuable content.

Visitors will continually return if they find valuable content on your website. If you provide valuable tax tips for the small business owner, you’ll find they use your site as a reference and perhaps even bookmark it. And when they need professional tax help who do you think they’ll go to? You, of course!

5. Update regularly.

Nothing is more frustrating to users than an out-of-date website that lists old promotions and dated information. While this may take some time, it will totally pay off in internet traffic.

6. Ensure all the links, etc. work properly.

This tip is closely related to number five. Broken links, missing graphics, and malfunctioning navigation communicate a sloppy regard for your internet visitors. And even though it’s unintended, it will reflect poorly on your tax preparation skills as well.

7. Include exclusive website promotions.

Reward your internet visitors by offering special promotions. Consider providing them with a free tax consultation that will afford you the opportunity to further promote your value as a tax professional.

8. Distribute your URL.

A website will do you no good unless you promote it. There are inexpensive ways to get your website out there. Here are just a few:

  • Put the URL on your business cards
  • Include the URL with your email signature
  • Issue a press release in your local paper
  • Whenever possible, get other websites to link to your site
  • Submit your site to directory listings
  • Include the URL in your Yellow-page listing
  • Include the URL on your stationary

Universal Accounting Center Can Help You Create a Custom Website for Your Practice

Imagine how difficult it would be to create your own website with all the above features without spending much of your own time managing the process. Now imagine that UAC can manage that process for you, enabling you to create a strong web presence without expending much energy. Universal Accounting Center (UAC) has recently released an expanded and improved Accountweb website development tool, available exclusively for accounting, tax, and bookkeeping professionals. Within a number of business days you can create a personalized website for your practice, enabling potential clients to access your business even after your office closes.To see a sample of a website developed from the Universal Accountweb platform, go to www.universalaccountingservices.com.Whether you run a full-time practice or do taxes on the side, you need a website that tells potential clients about your business even when you are unable to. If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, today is the day! Order your subscription now-your website will be up and running by the following business week. And if you are a Universal Accounting student you will receive a free six-month trial!

Questions to Ask When Building a Business Website

One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

But before building that all-important website you must ask yourself a few searching questions:

1. Who is your intended audience? Unless you clearly understand who your target audience is, you will be unable to build a website that both attracts them and satisfies their needs.  Obviously you will want your website to appeal to both current and prospective clients.  Once you clearly define who might comprise that intended audience, you can ask yourself more specific questions regarding their expectations.

2. What are your objectives? When you are able to determine what you hope to accomplish through your business website, you have a standard by which you can measure its success.  Would you like it to simply share your business information like an electronic business card?  While it’s good to have that type of information available, a website can accomplish so much more.  Would you like to secure more clients by offering special website promotions?  What about explaining your services and their value?  Be sure that your list of objectives is specific and exhaustive.  Once you have developed that list you can use it as a guide in building your site.

3. What should visitors expect to find on your site? Visitors will obviously expect to find an explanation of your services along with contact information.  What else might they expect?  You don’t want to disappoint prospective visitors by falling short of their expectations.  Consider posing this question to a handful of individuals from your intended audience.   Current clients could also provide you with valuable insight on what they would like to find on your site.

4. What will bring visitors back? Attracting first-time visitors is one thing, but how do you bring them back to your site continually?  Again you must look at your website from a visitor’s standpoint and determine what would interest them enough to not only like your site, but bookmark it.  The one thing that will bring visitors back is offering valuable content that you update continually.  Consider offering a tax tips section, a client spotlight, or a regular website promotion.

5. What will they take with them? You’ve determined how you might build a site that interests repeat visitors, but what do you want them to take from your site?  Obviously, you want them to value your services more.  You also want them to remember you, even if they don’t retain your services initially.  When they need tax help, you want them to remember your website and return to get your number so they can schedule an appointment.

Universal Accounting Center Can Help You Create a Custom Website for Your Practice

Imagine how difficult it would be to create your own website that addressed all the above questions.  Now imagine that UAC can manage that process for you, enabling you to create a strong web presence without expending much energy.  Universal’s Accountweb, a website development tool, is available exclusively for financial professionals.  Within a number of business days you can create a personalized website for your practice, enabling potential clients to access your business even after your office closes.

To see a sample of a website developed from the Universal Accountweb platform, go to www.universalaccountingservices.com.

Whether you run a full-time practice or perform tax services on the side, you need a website that tells potential clients about your business even when you are unable to.  If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, today is the day!  Order your subscription now—your website will be up and running by the following business week.  And if you are a Universal Accounting student, you will receive a free six-month trial! 

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