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Top 10 reasons you should update your estate plan before the end of 2012!

  1. Tax exemption is higher now than ever, but not for long.
    The current estate, gift and generation skipping tax exemption is currently $5,120,000 ($10,240,000) per couple. This is higher than it has ever been and is scheduled to drop to only $1,000,000 (only $2,000,000 per couple) in 2013 unless Congress and the President can reach an agreement. This may be a use it or lose it!
  2. Your plan may disinherit your spouse!
    Do your current estate planning documents include a formula for determining the amounts passing to heirs or trusts for heirs based upon the exemption? With the currently high exemptions, your plan may disinherit your spouse!
  3. Is your business safe from creditors or predators?
    Do you have a succession plan for your business? Does your plan include the use of asset protection trusts funded up to the amount of your exemption to safeguard your business from your heirs’ creditors, spouses and predators?
  4. Interest rates are historically low!
    The interest rate that the IRS requires to be used for interfamily loans, sales to family trusts, and other planning techniques is at historical lows. The current required interest rate for a 9 year loan made in June 2012 is only 1.07%.
  5. Discounting the value of assets is still available.
    Discounted values for lack of control and lack of marketability for interests in Corporations, Partnerships and LLCs are still available for interfamily transactions. There has been much talk about limiting such discounts, but currently, discounting is still available for planning purposes.  When discounting the value of assets by 33%, the effective interest rate on a note as mentioned in item four above drops to only 0.7%!
  6. If you’re feeling generous – there’s no estate or gift tax!
    If you are currently giving or planning to give significant sums of money or assets to your favorite charity, the current low interest rates allow you to help your charity and transfer assets to your heirs with no estate or gift tax. Ask about the use of a charitable lead trust.
  7. Consider a Roth IRA conversion for estate tax savings.
    If you have a large IRA or retirement plan as part of your taxable estate, which is in excess of the exemption, you should consider a Roth IRA conversion. This will reduce your taxable estate and provide years of tax free cash flow to heirs.
  8. Avoid aggressive taxation on your vacation home.
    Do you have a vacation home outside Florida that will be subject to state estate tax and the costs of an ancillary probate administration in that state? Simple steps can avoid the often very aggressive taxation of these homes.
  9. Is your life insurance subject to estate taxes?
    An irrevocable life insurance trust can avoid the estate tax and provide asset protection for your heirs.
  10. Do you have a family member who has special health needs?
    You may want to consider unique provisions in your estate planning documents.

Don’t wait until the end of the year to get started.  Do it now!

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John R. Anzivino, CPA is in charge of Kaufman, Rossin’s estate, trust and exempt organization practice. Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the state and offers a wide variety of services for high-net worth individuals. John can be reached at janzivino@kaufmanrossin.com

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Another IRS email scam

The IRS will never initiate contact via email. If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, it is a SCAM!

Below is a screenshot of one of the scam emails being sent.

If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to contact your Kaufman, Rossin professional.

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Scott F. Berger is a tax and accounting services principal at Kaufman, Rossin’s Boca Raton office.  Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the country.  He can be reached at sberger@kaufmanrossin.com.

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QuickBooks – There’s an app for that too!

Are you an app lover? Do you use apps for more than just games?Meredith Tucker

If so, you’ll appreciate that QuickBooks has the capability to integrate with numerous applications to simplify billing, invoicing, customer management, financial management, and mobile accounting. One of our favorite apps is Bill.com.

Bill.com is a paperless bill pay service that integrates with both desktop QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. If you’re trying to organize payables, gain greater control over cash flow, and gain access to bill pay functions on your smart phone, then this app may be great for you.  Even if your accounting firm pays your bills for you, this app will help you get clear, instant access to your records.

How it works:

  • You get a dedicated email address or fax number to send in copies of your invoices. They’re all archived in a secure, web-based portal.
  • You can maintain proper internal controls by having separate staff upload, approve, and pay bills.
  • Payments are sent via ACH, if accepted by your vendor, or via paper checks.
  • If a paper check is required, funds are first transferred to Bill.com.  Then, a check is cut from Bill.com’s account. This lessens your exposure to check fraud.
  • Users have access to a cash flow calendar allowing them to easily schedule, postpone, and project expenses.
  • All accounting information exports to QuickBooks, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry.
  • It works with any computer or mobile device. This provides a great solution for owners who travel frequently and want to stay on top of their expenses or retain the authority to pay bills themselves.

This is a trusted service, recommended by the AICPA’s CPA2BIZ division.  It’s gotten very strong reviews from the QuickBooks community for both its functionality and user support.  A package for up to 5 users is $49.00 per month plus $0.99 for each paper check required.

App savvy professionals can get more information at http://www.bill.com/.

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Meredith Tucker is an accounting services manager at  Kaufman, Rossin’s Boca Raton office, and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Kaufman, Rossin & Co., one of the top CPA firms in the country, offers  QuickBooks training and consulting services. She can be reached at mtucker@kaufmanrossin.com.

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QuickBooks Tip: Set a closing date password – you won’t regret it!

When can you set a closing date?
You can set a closing date on a daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.

Why do you need a closing date?

  • To restrict access to final numbers once a period is closed.
  • To prevent staff from adding, editing or deleting transactions after the books are closed.
  • To prevent changes to transactions after the information is sent to your accountant.
  • To help prevent fraud.

What does a closing date do?

  • Warns you when a transaction on or before the closing date is being changed.
  • Tracks all changes.
  • Prints a closing date exception report.

How do you set a closing date in QuickBooks?

  • Login as the Admin.
  • Click Company, Set Closing Date to open the Accounting, Company Preferences dialog.
  • Click the Set Date/Password button. The Set Closing Date and Password dialog displays.
  • Enter a closing date and optional password. You might want to discuss this date with your accountant first.
  • Click OK to accept the closing date and optional password.

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Lori Bucci is an accounting services manager at Kaufman, Rossin’s Miami office, and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Kaufman, Rossin & Co., one of the top CPA firms in the country, offers QuickBooks training and consulting services. She can be reached at lbucci@kaufmanrossin.com.

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What’s New in QuickBooks 2012?

The program enhancements for QuickBooks 2012 can be divided into two areas:

  1. Enhancements for the user
  2. Enhancements for their accountants

Enhancements for the user are designed to make day-to-day accounting easier and provide better information about your business. We have listed many of the User Enhancements that apply to most versions of QuickBooks below.

  • Refresh Excel Data – provides user better integration with Microsoft Excel
  • Contributed Reports – allows user to share report templates with other QuickBooks users
  • Lead Center – allows user to manage sales prospects within QuickBooks and convert them easily to customers
  • Calendar View – allows user to view a calendar layout of a company’s important transactions (invoices, billing, reminders)
  • Global To Do’s – allows user more access to and flexibility with their To-Do lists
  • Document Center – users can scan and store attached documents
  • Memorized Transactions – improved to enable user to select transactions before entry
  • Batch Timesheets – allows user to enter the same timesheet information for multiple employees
  • Batch Invoicing for Time and Expenses – allows users to invoice several customers for time and expenses at one time
  • One Click Transactions – allows users to create a payment or credit memo from the contents of an invoice in one step; also can now pay a bill in one step
  • Improved Shipping Manager – allows user to integrate with USPS
  • Company File Search – allows users expanded search features
  • Integrated Help – provides users enhanced help features
  • Improved Condense Data – improves the clean up data/condense data feature
  • Easy Setup – provides users with an express start up for new QuickBooks files

If you have any questions or need assistance with QuickBooks, please contact Lisa K. Grossman or any of our QuickBooks ProAdvisors.

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Lisa K. Grossman is an associate principal at Kaufman, Rossin & Co., and a leader in the Firm’s QuickBooks consulting practice. Lisa is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Kaufman, Rossin & Co. is one of the top CPA firms in the country. She can be reached a lgrossman@kaufmanrossin.com.