Perform an operational review to see how well your business is running

In the wide, wide world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), most business buyers conduct thorough due diligence before closing their deals. This usually involves carefully investigating the target company’s financial, legal and operational positions.

But why let them have all the fun? As a business owner, you can perform these same types of reviews of your own company to glean critical insights.

Now you can take a deep dive into your financial or legal standing — and certainly should if you think something is amiss. But assuming all’s well, the start of a new year is a good time to perform an operational review.

Why to do it

An operational review is essentially a reality check into whether, from the standpoint of day-to-day operations, your company is running smoothly and fully capable of accomplishing its strategic objectives.

For example, let’s say a business relies on superior transportation logistics as a competitive advantage. Such a company would need to continuously ensure that it has the right people, vehicles and technology in place to remain a major player. The point is, you don’t want to fall behind the times, which can happen all too easily in today’s environment of disruptors and rapid technological change.

Before getting into specifics, gather your leadership team and ask yourselves some big-picture questions such as:

  • Are our IT systems up to date and secure, or will they soon need substantial upgrades to keep our data safe and our business competitive?
  • Are our production facilities capable of handling the output we intend to work toward in the coming year?
  • Are staffing levels across our various departments appropriate, or will we likely need to expand, contract or reallocate our workforce this year?

By listening to members of your leadership team, and perhaps even some key employees on the front line, you can gain a sense of your staff’s operational confidence. If they have concerns, better to address them sooner rather than later.

What to look at

Getting back to M&A, when business buyers perform operational due diligence, they tend to evaluate at least three primary areas of a target company. As mentioned, you can do the same. The areas are:

1. Production/operations. Buyers scrutinize mission-critical functions such as technological obsolescence, supply chain operations, procurement processes, customer response times, and product or service distribution speed. They may even visit production facilities and interview certain employees. Their goal, and yours, is to spot performance gaps, identify cost-cutting opportunities and determine ways to improve productivity.

2. Selling, general & administrative (SG&A). This is a financial term that summarizes a company’s sales-related expenses (including sales staff compensation and advertising costs) along with its administrative costs (such as executive compensation and certain other general expenses). A SG&A analysis is a way for business buyers — or you, the business owner — to assess whether the company’s operational expenses are too high or too low.

3. Human resources (HR). Buyers typically review a target business’s organizational charts, staffing levels, compensation and benefits, and employee bonus or incentive plans. They also look at the tone, quality and substance of communications between HR and staff. Their goal — and yours too — is to determine the reasonability and sustainability of each of these things.

A funny question

Would you buy your company if you didn’t already own it? It may seem like a funny question, but an operational review can tell you, objectively, just how efficiently and impressively your business is running. We’d be happy to help you gather and analyze the pertinent information involved.

© 2024


Does your business have employees who get tips? You may qualify for a tax credit

If you’re an employer with a business where tipping is routine when providing food and beverages, you may qualify for a federal tax credit involving the Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes that you pay on your employees’ tip income.

Credit fundamentals

The FICA credit applies to tips that your staff members receive from customers when they buy food and beverages. It doesn’t matter if the food and beverages are consumed on or off the premises. Although tips are paid by customers, for FICA purposes, they’re treated as if you paid them to your employees.

As you know, your employees are required to report their tips to you. You must:

  • Withhold and remit the employee’s share of FICA taxes, and
  • Pay the employer’s share of those taxes.

How the credit is claimed

You claim the credit as part of the general business credit. It’s equal to the employer’s share of FICA taxes paid on tip income in excess of what’s needed to bring your employee’s wages up to $5.15 per hour. In other words, no credit is available to the extent the tip income just brings the employee up to the $5.15-per-hour level, calculated monthly. If you pay each employee at least $5.15 an hour (excluding tips), you don’t have to be concerned with this calculation.

Note: A 2007 tax law froze the per-hour amount at $5.15, which was the amount of the federal minimum wage at that time. The minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour but the amount for credit computation purposes remains $5.15.

Let’s look at an example

Let’s say a server works at your restaurant. She is paid $2.13 an hour plus tips. During the month, she works 160 hours for $340.80 and receives $2,000 in cash tips which she reports to you.

The server’s $2.13-an-hour rate is below the $5.15 rate by $3.02 an hour. Thus, for the 160 hours worked, she is below the $5.15 rate by $483.20 (160 times $3.02). For the server, therefore, the first $483.20 of tip income just brings her up to the minimum rate. The rest of the tip income is $1,516.80 ($2,000 minus $483.20). As the server’s employer, you pay FICA taxes at the rate of 7.65% for her. Therefore, your employer credit is $116.03 for the month: $1,516.80 times 7.65%.

While the employer’s share of FICA taxes is generally deductible, the FICA taxes paid with respect to tip income used to determine the credit can’t be deducted, because that would amount to a double benefit. However, you can elect not to take the credit, in which case you can claim the deduction.

Get the credit you deserve

If your business pays FICA taxes on tip income paid to your employees, the tip tax credit may be valuable to you. Other rules may apply. Contact us if you have any questions.

© 2024


The kiddie tax could affect your children until they’re young adults

The so-called “kiddie tax” can cause some of a child’s unearned income to be taxed at the parent’s higher marginal federal income tax rates instead of at the usually much lower rates that a child would otherwise pay. For purposes of this federal income tax provision, a “child” can be up to 23 years old. So, the kiddie tax can potentially affect young adults as well as kids.

Kiddie tax basics

Perhaps the most important thing to know about this poorly understood provision is that, for a student, the kiddie tax can be an issue until the year that he or she turns age 24. For that year and future years, your child is finally kiddie-tax-exempt.

The kiddie tax is only assessed on a child’s (or young adult’s) unearned income. That usually means interest, dividends and capital gains. These types of income often come from custodial accounts that parents and grandparents set up and fund for younger children.

Earned income from a job or self-employment is never subject to the kiddie tax.

Calculating the tax

To determine the kiddie tax, first add up the child’s (or young adult’s) net earned income and net unearned income. Then subtract the allowable standard deduction to arrive at the child’s taxable income.

The portion of taxable income that consists of net earned income is taxed at the regular federal income tax rates for single taxpayers.

The portion of taxable income that consists of net unearned income that exceeds the standard deduction ($2,600 for 2024 or $2,500 for 2023) is subject to the kiddie tax and is taxed at the parent’s higher marginal federal income tax rates.

The tax is calculated by completing an IRS form, which is then filed with the child’s Form 1040.

Is calculating and reporting the kiddie tax complicated? It certainly can be. We can handle the task when we prepare your tax return.

Is your child exposed?

Maybe. For 2023, the relevant IRS form must be filed for any child or young adult who:

  • Has more than $2,500 of unearned income;
  • Is required to file a Form 1040;
  • Is under age 18 as of December 31, 2023, or is age 18 and didn’t have earned income in excess of half of his or her support, or is between ages 19 and 23 and a full-time student and didn’t have earned income in excess of half of his or her support;
  • Has at least one living parent; and
  • Didn’t file a joint return for the year.

For 2024, the same rules apply except the unearned income threshold is raised to $2,600.

Don’t let the tax sneak up on you

The kiddie tax rules are pretty complicated, and the tax can sneak up on the unwary. We can determine if your child is affected and suggest strategies to minimize or avoid the tax. For example, your child could invest in growth stocks that pay no or minimal dividends and hold on to them until a year when the kiddie tax no longer applies. Contact us if you have questions or want more information.

© 2024


Did your business buy the wrong software?

No one likes to make a mistake. This is especially true in business, where a wrong decision can cost money, time and resources. According to the results of a recent survey, one of the primary ways that many companies are committing costly foibles is buying the wrong software.

The report in question is the 2024 Tech Trends Survey. It was conducted and published by Capterra, a company that helps businesses choose software by compiling reviews and offering guidance. The study focuses on the responses of 700 U.S.-based companies. Of those, about two-thirds regretted at least one of their software purchases made in the previous 12 to 18 months. And more than half of those suffering regret described the financial fallout of the bad decision as “significant” or “monumental.”

Yikes! Clearly, it’s in every business’s best interest — both financially and operationally — to go slow when it comes to buying software.

Inquiring minds

The next time you think your company might need new software, begin the decision-making process with a series of inquiries. That is, sit down with your leadership team and ask questions such as:

  • What functionalities do we need?
  • Are we talking about an entirely new platform or an upgrade within an existing platform?
  • Who will use the software?
  • Are these users motivated to use a new type of software?

Compatibility is an issue, too. If you’re using an older operating system, new software could be buggy or flat-out incompatible. In either case, you could incur substantial additional costs to update or replace your operating system, which might involve new hardware and impact other software.

When deciding whether and what to buy, get input from appropriate staff members. For example, your accounting personnel should be able to tell you what types of reports they need from upgraded financial management software. From there, you can differentiate “must haves” from “nice to haves” from “needless bells and whistles.”

If you’re considering changes to “front-facing” software, you might want to first survey customers to determine whether the upgrade would really improve their experience.

Prequalified vendors

When buying software, businesses often focus more on price and less on from whom they’re buying the product. Think of a vendor as a business partner — that is, an entity who won’t only sell you the product, but also help you implement and maintain it.

Look for providers that have been operational for at least five to 10 years, have a track record of successful implementations and can provide references from satisfied customers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy from a newer vendor, but you’ll need to look much more closely at its background and history.

For each provider, find out what kind of technical support is included with your purchase. Buying top-of-the-line software only to find out that the vendor provides poor customer service is usually a quick path to regret. Also, is training part of the package? If not, you’ll likely need to send one or more IT staffers out for training or engage a third-party trainer, either of which will cost you additional dollars.

Your goal is to create a list of prequalified software vendors. With it in hand, you can focus on comparing their products and prices. And you can use the list in the future as your software needs evolve.

No remorse

“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” goes the famous Sinatra song. Buying the wrong software doesn’t have to be one of them for your business. We can help you identify all the costs involved with a software purchase and assist you in ensuring a positive return on investment.

© 2024


Tax-favored Qualified Small Business Corporation status could help you thrive

Operating your small business as a Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) could be a tax-wise idea.

Tax-free treatment for eligible stock gains

QSBCs are the same as garden-variety C corporations for tax and legal purposes — except QSBC shareholders are potentially eligible to exclude from federal income tax 100% of their stock sale gains. That translates into a 0% federal income tax rate on QSBC stock sale profits! However, you must meet several requirements set forth in Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code, and not all shares meet the tax-law description of QSBC stock. Finally, there are limitations on the amount of QSBC stock sale gain that you can exclude in any one tax year (but they’re unlikely to apply).

Stock acquisition date is key

The 100% federal income tax gain exclusion is only available for sales of QSBC shares that were acquired on or after September 28, 2010.

If you currently operate as a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC treated as a sole proprietorship, partnership or multi-member LLC treated as a partnership, you’ll have to incorporate the business and issue yourself shares to attain QSBC status.

Important: The act of incorporating a business shouldn’t be taken lightly. We can help you evaluate the pros and cons of taking this step.

Here are some more rules and requirements:

  • Eligibility. The gain exclusion break isn’t available for QSBC shares owned by another C corporation. However, QSBC shares held by individuals, LLCs, partnerships, and S corporations are potentially eligible.
  • Holding period. To be eligible for the 100% stock sale gain exclusion deal, you must hold your QSBC shares for over five years. For shares that haven’t yet been issued, the 100% gain exclusion break will only be available for sales that occur sometime in 2029 or beyond.
  • Acquisition of shares. You must acquire the shares after August 10, 1993, and they generally must be acquired upon original issuance by the corporation or by gift or inheritance.
  • Businesses that aren’t eligible. The corporation must actively conduct a qualified business. Qualified businesses don’t include those rendering services in the fields of health; law; engineering; architecture; accounting; actuarial science; performing arts; consulting; athletics; financial services; brokerage services; businesses where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of employees; banking; insurance; leasing; financing; investing; farming; production or extraction of oil, natural gas, or other minerals for which percentage depletion deductions are allowed; or the operation of a hotel, motel, restaurant, or similar business.
  • Asset limits. The corporation’s gross assets can’t exceed $50 million immediately after your shares are issued. If after the stock is issued, the corporation grows and exceeds the $50 million threshold, it won’t lose its QSBC status for that reason.

2017 law sweetened the deal

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made a flat 21% corporate federal income tax rate permanent, assuming no backtracking by Congress. So, if you own shares in a profitable QSBC and you eventually sell them when you’re eligible for the 100% gain exclusion break, the 21% corporate rate could be all the income tax that’s ever owed to Uncle Sam.

Tax incentives drive the decision

Before concluding that you can operate your business as a QSBC, consult with us. We’ve summarized the most important eligibility rules here, but there are more. The 100% federal income tax stock sale gain exclusion break and the flat 21% corporate federal income tax rate are two strong incentives for eligible small businesses to operate as QSBCs.

© 2024


Account-based marketing can help companies rejoice in ROI

When it comes to marketing, business owners and their leadership teams often assume that they should “cast a wide net.” But should you? If your company is looking to drive business-to-business (B2B) sales, a generalized approach to marketing could leave key customers and optimal prospects feeling like they’re receiving vague messages from a provider that doesn’t really know them. That’s where account-based marketing comes in.

Simply defined, account-based marketing is a strategy under which marketing and sales teams collaboratively focus on targeted high-value accounts. The objective is to create a customized experience for each account that locks in the buyer long-term through deep relationship building and personalized service.

Benefits and risks

The primary potential benefit of a successful account-based marketing campaign is return on investment (ROI). By focusing on customers and prospects most likely to invest substantial dollars in your products or services, you’ll better position yourself to win those odds and bring in substantial revenue. Indeed, the internet abounds with marketing surveys indicating that large percentages of responding B2B companies have gotten a higher ROI from account-based marketing than from other strategies.

Another potential benefit is better aligning marketing with sales. Many businesses struggle with mismatched messaging coming from the marketing and sales departments, respectively. This can lead to customer confusion and internal conflicts. Account-based marketing requires marketing and sales to work together to devise a unified, unique approach to each targeted account.

A third potential benefit is establishing your B2B company as an industry expert. In most industries, when word gets out that a company is successfully marketing directly to certain well-known players, that business’s reputation rises because, clearly, it “speaks the language.”

Of course, account-based marketing has its risks. The biggest one is, as you might’ve guessed, a negative ROI. You’ll need to invest substantial time and resources on each targeted account. If the initiative flounders, the resulting losses can be steep. You may also end up ignoring other customers or prospects. Your business could even hurt its reputation by interacting with a major industry player in a less than flattering way.

3 steps to success

So, how do you avoid those downsides? Here are a three general steps to success:

1. Create a framework. Before doing anything, your business will need a broad framework for executing an account-based marketing strategy. A good way to build one is to use a readily available template to map out the process. You’ll also need to form a dedicated account-based marketing team. You might even invest in specialized software to automate everything.

2. Choose your targets. This may be the most important step! You’ve got to pick the customers and prospects that are the best fits for account-based marketing. It’s generally best to start with a short list or even just one or two. Next, meticulously research key details about each business, such as its mission, size, revenue model and spending patterns. Also, identify the specific individuals you’ll need to win over within the target company.

3. Design, execute and analyze. As mentioned, you’ll need to design a customized campaign for each account. Do so with great care, relying on your research and meaningful interactions with contacts at the business in question. From there, be prepared to measure and analyze your results and iterate the campaigns as necessary.

A significant boost

Account-based marketing isn’t feasible for every business. But if you believe that messaging directly to a few key customers or prospects could give your B2B company’s sales a significant boost, it’s worth considering. For help projecting the results of an account-based marketing campaign, or assistance choosing and analyzing metrics for a campaign in progress, contact us.

© 2024


Should your business offer the new emergency savings accounts to employees?

As part of the SECURE 2.0 law, there’s a new benefit option for employees facing emergencies. It’s called a pension-linked emergency savings account (PLESA) and the provision authorizing it became effective for plan years beginning January 1, 2024. The IRS recently released guidance about the accounts (in Notice 2024-22) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published some frequently asked questions to help employers, plan sponsors, participants and others understand them.

PLESA basics

The DOL defines PLESAs as “short-term savings accounts established and maintained within a defined contribution plan.” Employers with 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans can opt to offer PLESAs to non-highly compensated employees. For 2024, a participant who earned $150,000 or more in 2023 is a highly compensated employee.

Here are some more details of this new type of account:

  • The portion of the account balance attributable to participant contributions can’t exceed $2,500 (or a lower amount determined by the plan sponsor) in 2024. The $2,500 amount will be adjusted for inflation in future years.
  • Employers can offer to enroll eligible participants in these accounts beginning in 2024 or can automatically enroll participants in them.
  • The account can’t have a minimum contribution to open or a minimum account balance.
  • Participants can make a withdrawal at least once per calendar month, and such withdrawals must be distributed “as soon as practicable.”
  • For the first four withdrawals from an account in a plan year, participants can’t be subject to any fees or charges. Subsequent withdrawals may be subject to reasonable fees or charges.
  • Contributions must be held as cash, in an interest-bearing deposit account or in an investment product.
  • If an employee has a PLESA and isn’t highly compensated, but becomes highly compensated as defined under tax law, he or she can’t make further contributions but retains the right to withdraw the balance.
  • Contributions will be made on a Roth basis, meaning they are included in an employee’s taxable income but participants won’t have to pay tax when they make withdrawals.

Proof of an event not necessary

A participant in a PLESA doesn’t need to prove that he or she is experiencing an emergency before making a withdrawal from an account. The DOL states that “withdrawals are made at the discretion of the participant.”

These are just the basic details of PLESAs. Contact us if you have questions about these or other fringe benefits and their tax implications.

© 2024


IRAs: Build a tax-favored retirement nest egg

Although traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs have been around for decades, the rules involved have changed many times. The Secure 2.0 law, which was enacted at the end of 2022, brought even more changes that made IRAs more advantageous for many taxpayers. What hasn’t changed is that they can help you save for retirement on a tax-favored basis. Here’s an overview of the basic rules and some of the recent changes.

Rules for traditional IRAs

You can make an annual deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if:

  • You (and your spouse) aren’t active participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans, or
  • You (or your spouse) are active participants in an employer plan, and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary annually by filing status.

For example, in 2024, if you’re a joint return filer covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $123,000 to $143,000 of MAGI ($77,000 to $87,000 for singles).

Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings are tax deferred. However, withdrawals are taxed in full (and subject to a 10% penalty if taken before age 59½, unless one of several exceptions apply). Under the SECURE 2.0 law, you must now begin making minimum withdrawals by April 1 of the year following the year you turn age 73 (the age was 72 before 2023 and 70½ before 2020).

You can make an annual nondeductible IRA contribution without regard to employer plan coverage and your MAGI. The earnings in a nondeductible IRA are tax-deferred but taxed when distributed (and subject to a 10% penalty if taken early, unless an exception applies).

Nondeductible contributions aren’t taxed when withdrawn. If you’ve made deductible and nondeductible IRA contributions, a portion of each distribution is treated as coming from nontaxable IRA contributions (and the rest is taxed).

Amount you can sock away

The maximum annual IRA contribution (deductible or nondeductible, or a combination) is $7,000 for 2024 (up from $6,500 for 2023). If you are age 50 or over, you can make a $1,000 “catch-up contribution” for 2024 (unchanged from 2023). Additionally, your contribution can’t exceed the amount of your compensation includible in income for that year.

Rules for Roth IRAs

You can make an annual contribution to a Roth IRA if your income doesn’t exceed certain levels based on filing status. For example, in 2024, if you’re a joint return filer, the maximum annual Roth IRA contribution phases out over $230,000 to $240,000 of MAGI ($146,000 to $161,000 for singles). Annual Roth contributions can be made up to the amount allowed as a contribution to a traditional IRA, reduced by the amount you contribute for the year to non-Roth IRAs, but not reduced by contributions to a SEP or SIMPLE plan.

Roth IRA contributions aren’t deductible. However, earnings are tax-deferred and (unlike a traditional IRA) withdrawals are tax-free if paid out:

  • After a five-year period that begins with the first year for which you made a contribution to a Roth IRA, and
  • Once you reach age 59½, or upon death or disability, or for first-time home-buyer expenses of you, your spouse, child, grandchild, or ancestor (up to a $10,000 lifetime limit).

You don’t have to take required minimum distributions from a Roth IRA. You can “roll over” (or convert) a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA regardless of your income. The amount taken out of the traditional IRA and rolled into the Roth IRA is treated for tax purposes as a regular withdrawal (but not subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty).

There’s currently no age limit for making regular contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA, as long as you have compensation income. Contact us if you have questions about IRAs.

© 2024


Seeing the big picture with an enterprise risk management program

There’s no way around it — owning and operating a business comes with risk. On the one hand, operating under excessive levels of risk will likely impair the value of a business, consume much of its working capital and could even lead to bankruptcy if those risks become all-consuming. But on the other hand, no business can operate risk-free. Those that try will inevitably miss out on growth opportunities and probably get surpassed by more ambitious competitors.

How can you find the right balance? One way to manage your company’s “risk profile” is to implement a formal enterprise risk management (ERM) program.

Optimization, not elimination

Most businesses have internal controls to prevent fraud, maintain compliance and reduce errors. But an ERM program goes much further. It’s a top-down framework that starts at the C-suite and addresses risk at every level of the organization. An effective ERM program helps you and your leadership team not only identify major threats, but also devise feasible strategic, operational, reporting and compliance objectives.

Traditional risk management techniques, which are often informal and ad hoc, use a “siloed” approach. In other words, each department focuses on minimizing its own risks. The efficacy of this approach is limited at best, for a couple reasons. First, it fails to address how risks may arise in the way departments interact — or don’t interact — with each other. Second, it often wrongly assumes that the goal of risk management is to eliminate risk. In truth, the proper goal of risk management is to optimize risk; that is, develop strategic objectives and operate the business under acceptable levels of inevitable risk.

An ERM program takes an integrated approach. It recognizes that many risks are enterprise-wide and interrelated. For example, say a business identifies a new vendor offering substantially reduced prices on key materials. From the accounting department’s perspective, the deal may seem like a no-brainer. But an analysis under an ERM program could reveal that the vendor is situated in a high-risk area for natural disasters or civil unrest. Or the ERM analysis might show that the vendor is a bad match technologically or has poor cybersecurity.

Good starting point

Naturally, every company’s framework for an ERM program will differ depending on factors such as its size and structure. But one tool that’s proven helpful to many businesses is the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission’s (COSO’s) Enterprise Risk Management — Integrated Framework, which was originally published in 2004.

COSO is a joint initiative of five private sector organizations that develop frameworks and guidance on ERM, internal controls and fraud deterrence. The five organizations are the American Accounting Association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Financial Executives International, the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Institute of Management Accountants.

The original COSO framework covers four categories of objectives: strategic, operations, reporting and compliance. It also sets forth eight key components: 1) internal environment, 2) objective setting, 3) event identification, 4) risk assessment, 5) risk response, 6) control activities, 7) information and communication, and 8) monitoring. Note that, in 2017, COSO published an updated complementary publication entitled Enterprise Risk Management — Integrating with Strategy and Performance.

Perfect framework

Are you tired of putting out fires or having to rethink major strategic decisions because they’re just a little bit off the mark? If so, a formal ERM program may be the solution you’re looking for. We’d be happy to help you build the perfect framework for your business.

© 2024


Update on IRS efforts to combat questionable Employee Retention Tax Credit claims

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was introduced back when COVID-19 temporarily closed many businesses. The credit provided cash that helped enable struggling businesses to retain employees. Even though the ERTC expired for most employers at the end of the third quarter of 2021, it could still be claimed on amended returns after that.

According to the IRS, it began receiving a deluge of “questionable” ERTC claims as some unscrupulous promotors asserted that large tax refunds could easily be obtained — even though there are stringent eligibility requirements. “We saw aggressive marketing around this credit, and well-intentioned businesses were misled into filing claims,” explained IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

Last year, in a series of actions, the IRS began cracking down on potentially fraudulent claims. They began with a moratorium on processing new ERTC claims submitted after September 14, 2023. Despite this, the IRS reports that it still has more than $1 billion in ETRC claims in process and they are receiving additional scrutiny.

Here’s an update of the other compliance efforts that may help your business if it submitted a problematic claim:

1. Voluntary Disclosure Program. Under this program, businesses can “pay back the money they received after filing ERTC claims in error,” the IRS explained. The deadline for applying is March 22, 2024. If the IRS accepts a business into the program, the employer will need to repay only 80% of the credit money it received. If the IRS paid interest on the employer’s ERTC, the employer doesn’t need to repay that interest and the IRS won’t charge penalties or interest on the repaid amounts.

The IRS chose the 80% repayment amount because many of the ERTC promoters charged a percentage fee that they collected at the time (or in advance) of the payment, so the recipients never received the full credit amount.

Employers that are unable to repay the required 80% may be considered for an installment agreement on a case-by-case basis, pending submission and review of an IRS form that requires disclosing a significant amount of financial information.

To be eligible for this program, the employer must provide the IRS with the name, address and phone number of anyone who advised or assisted them with their claims, and details about the services provided.

2. Special withdrawal program. If a business has a pending claim for which it has eligibility concerns, it can withdraw the claim. This program is also available to businesses that were paid money from the IRS for claims but haven’t cashed or deposited the refund checks. The tax agency reported that more than $167 million from pending applications had been withdrawn through mid-January.

Much-needed relief

Commissioner Werfel said the disclosure program “provides a much-needed option for employers who were pulled into these claims and now realize they shouldn’t have applied.”

In addition to the programs described above, the IRS has been sending letters to thousands of taxpayers notifying them their claims have been disallowed. These cases involve entities that didn’t exist or didn’t have employees on the payroll during the eligibility period, “meaning the businesses failed to meet the basic criteria” for the credit, the IRS stated. Another set of letters will soon be mailed to credit recipients who claimed an erroneous or excessive credit. They’ll be informed that the IRS will recapture the payments through normal collection procedures.

There’s an application form that employers must file to participate in the Voluntary Disclosure Program and procedures that must be followed for the withdrawal program. Other rules apply. Contact us for assistance or with questions.

© 2024