Is it time to upgrade your business’s accounting software?

By now, just about every company uses some kind of accounting software to track, manage and report its financial transactions. Many businesses end up using several different types of software to handle different accounting-related functions. Others either immediately or eventually opt for a comprehensive solution that addresses all their needs.

Although there’s some truth to the old expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” companies often soldier on for years with inefficient or outdated accounting software. How do you know when it’s time to upgrade? Look for certain telltale signs.

It’s slowing us down

Accounting software is intended to make your and your employees’ lives easier. Among its primary purposes are to automate repetitive tasks, save time and provide quicker access to financial insights. If you or your staff are spending an inordinate amount of time wrestling with your current software to garner such benefits, an upgrade may be in order.

There’s also the issue of whether and how your business has grown recently. While some software developers market their products as “scalable” — that is, able to expand functionality right along with users’ needs — your mileage may vary. Keep a running list of the accounting functions your company needs and use it to assess the viability of your software.

Some lack of functionality can be relatively obvious. For example, many employees today need mobile access to accounting data, whether because they’re working remotely or traveling for the business. If your software makes this difficult — or, more dangerously, lacks trustworthy cybersecurity — it may be time to upgrade.

In addition, think about integration. As mentioned, some companies wind up using several different kinds of accounting-related software, and these various products may not “play well” together. In such cases, upgrading to a broader solution is worth considering.

There are various products specifically designed for small businesses. Growing midsize companies might be ready for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which integrates accounting with other functions such as inventory, sales and marketing, and human resources.

It’s getting us in trouble

The accounting software needs of most businesses tend to gradually evolve over time, making it tough to decide when to invest in an upgrade. However, there are some glaring red flags that can make the decision much easier — though they can also pressure companies into making a rushed purchase of new technology.

For instance, though privately owned companies aren’t required to follow the same accounting standards as publicly held ones, they still need sound financial reporting for tax purposes and possibly to comply with state or local regulations. If you’ve run into trouble with tax authorities or other agencies because of accounting mistakes or inconsistencies, an upgrade could help.

And, of course, financial reporting isn’t only about taxes and compliance, it plays a huge role in obtaining loans, attracting investors, and perhaps winning bids or arranging joint ventures. If you and your leadership team believe you’re being outcompeted because you can’t make the right strategic moves, investing in better accounting software may be one of the steps you need to take.

Last but not least, we mentioned cybersecurity above, but it bears repeating: Any indication that your accounting software is vulnerable to hackers or internal fraud should be regarded as an immediate call to action. Fortify your existing software or find a more secure product.

Business imperative

Long gone are the days when companies could rely on a dusty ledger and ink to record their financial transactions. The right accounting software is a business imperative. We’d be happy to help you assess your current needs and decide whether now’s the time to upgrade.

© 2024


Taking your spouse on a business trip? Can you write off the costs?

A recent report shows that post-pandemic global business travel is going strong. The market reached $665.3 billion in 2022 and is estimated to hit $928.4 billion by 2030, according to a report from Research and Markets. If you own your own company and travel for business, you may wonder whether you can deduct the costs of having your spouse accompany you on trips.

Is your spouse an employee?

The rules for deducting a spouse’s travel costs are very restrictive. First of all, to qualify for the deduction, your spouse must be your employee. This means you can’t deduct the travel costs of a spouse, even if his or her presence has a bona fide business purpose, unless the spouse is an employee of your business. This requirement prevents tax deductibility in most cases.

If your spouse is your employee, you can deduct his or her travel costs if his or her presence on the trip serves a bona fide business purpose. Merely having your spouse perform some incidental business service, such as typing up notes from a meeting, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. In general, it isn’t enough for his or her presence to be “helpful” to your business pursuits — it must be necessary.

In most cases, a spouse’s participation in social functions, for example as a host or hostess, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. That is, if his or her purpose is to establish general goodwill for customers or associates, this is usually insufficient. Further, if there’s a vacation element to the trip (for example, if your spouse spends time sightseeing), it will be more difficult to establish a business purpose for his or her presence on the trip. On the other hand, a bona fide business purpose exists if your spouse’s presence is necessary to care for a serious medical condition that you have.

If your spouse’s travel satisfies these requirements, the normal deductions for business travel away from home can be claimed. These include the costs of transportation, meals, lodging, and incidental costs such as dry cleaning, phone calls, etc.

What if your spouse isn’t an employee?

Even if your spouse’s travel doesn’t satisfy the requirements, however, you may still be able to deduct a substantial portion of the trip’s costs. This is because the rules don’t require you to allocate 50% of your travel costs to your spouse. You need only allocate any additional costs you incur for him or her. For example, in many hotels the cost of a single room isn’t that much lower than the cost of a double. If a single would cost you $150 a night and a double would cost you and your spouse $200, the disallowed portion of the cost allocable to your spouse would only be $50. In other words, you can write off the cost of what you would have paid traveling alone. To prove your deduction, ask the hotel for a room rate schedule showing single rates for the days you’re staying.

And if you drive your own car or rent one, the whole cost will be fully deductible even if your spouse is along. Of course, if public transportation is used, and for meals, any separate costs incurred by your spouse aren’t deductible.

Have questions?

You want to maximize all the tax breaks you can claim for your small business. Contact us if you have questions or need assistance with this or other tax-related issues.

© 2024


If you didn’t contribute to an IRA last year, there’s still time

If you’re gathering documents to file your 2023 tax return and you’re concerned that your tax bill may be higher than you’d like, there might still be an opportunity to lower it. If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the April 15, 2024, filing date and benefit from the tax savings on your 2023 return.

Who is eligible?

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

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

For 2023, if you’re a joint tax return filer and you are covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $116,000 to $136,000 of modified AGI. If you’re single or a head of household, the phaseout range is $73,000 to $83,000 for 2023. For married filing separately, the phaseout range is $0 to $10,000. For 2023, if you’re not an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but your spouse is, your deductible IRA contribution phases out with modified AGI of $218,000 to $228,000.

Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings within the IRA are tax deferred. However, every dollar you take out is taxed in full (and subject to a 10% penalty before age 59½, unless one of several exceptions apply).

IRAs are often referred to as “traditional IRAs” to differentiate them from Roth IRAs. You also have until April 15 to make a Roth IRA contribution. But while contributions to a traditional IRA are deductible, contributions to a Roth IRA aren’t. However, withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free as long as the account has been open at least five years and you’re age 59½ or older. (There are also income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA.)

Here are two other IRA strategies that may help you save tax:

1. Turn a nondeductible Roth IRA contribution into a deductible IRA contribution. Did you make a Roth IRA contribution in 2023? That may help you in the future when you take tax-free payouts from the account. However, the contribution isn’t deductible. If you realize you need the deduction that a traditional IRA contribution provides, you can change your mind and turn a Roth IRA contribution into a traditional IRA contribution via the “recharacterization” mechanism. The traditional IRA deduction is then yours if you meet the requirements described above.

2. Make a deductible IRA contribution, even if you don’t work. In general, you can’t make a deductible traditional IRA contribution unless you have wages or other earned income. However, an exception applies if your spouse is the wage earner and you’re a stay-at-home parent or homemaker. In this case, you may be able to take advantage of a spousal IRA.

What’s the contribution limit?

For 2023 if you’re eligible, you can make a deductible traditional IRA contribution of up to $6,500 ($7,500 if you’re 50 or over).

In addition, small business owners can set up and contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan up to the due date for their returns, including extensions. For 2023, the maximum contribution you can make to a SEP is $66,000.

If you want more information about IRAs or SEPs, contact us or ask about it when we’re preparing your return. We can help you save the maximum tax-advantaged amount for retirement.

© 2024


Small businesses can help employees save for retirement, too

Many small business owners run their companies as leanly as possible. This often means not offering what are considered standard fringe benefits for midsize or larger companies, such as a retirement plan.

If this is the case for your small business, don’t give up on the idea of helping your employees save for retirement in a tax-advantaged manner. When you’re ready, there are a couple account-based options that are relatively simple and inexpensive to launch and administrate.

SEP IRAs

Simplified Employee Pension IRAs (SEP IRAs) are individual accounts that small businesses establish on behalf of each participant. (Self-employed individuals can also establish SEP IRAs.) Participants own their accounts, so they’re immediately 100% vested. If a participant decides to leave your company, the account balance goes with them — most people roll it over into a new employer’s qualified plan or traditional IRA.

What are the advantages for you? SEP IRAs don’t require annual employer contributions. That means you can choose to contribute only when cash flow allows.

In addition, there are typically no setup fees for SEP IRAs, though participants generally must pay trading commissions and fund expense ratios (a fee typically set as a percentage of the fund’s average net assets). In 2024, the contribution limit is $69,000 (up from $66,000 in 2023) or up to 25% of a participant’s compensation. That amount is much higher than the 2024 limit for 401(k)s, which is $23,000 (up from $22,500 in 2023).

What’s more, employer contributions are tax-deductible. Meanwhile, participants won’t pay taxes on their SEP IRA funds until they’re withdrawn.

There are some disadvantages to consider. Although participants own their accounts, only employers can make SEP IRA contributions. And if you contribute sparsely or sporadically, participants may see little value in the accounts. Also, unlike many other qualified plans, SEP IRAs don’t permit participants age 50 or over to make additional “catch-up” contributions.

SIMPLE IRAs

Another strategy is to offer employees SIMPLE IRAs. (“SIMPLE” stands for “Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees.”) As is the case with SEP IRAs, your business creates a SIMPLE IRA for each participant, who’s immediately 100% vested in the account. Unlike SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs allow participants to contribute to their accounts if they so choose.

SIMPLE IRAs are indeed relatively simple to set up and administer. They don’t require the sponsoring business to file IRS Form 5500, “Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan.” Nor must you submit the plan to nondiscrimination testing, which is generally required for 401(k)s.

Meanwhile, participants face no setup fees and enjoy tax-deferred growth on their account funds. Best of all, they can contribute more to a SIMPLE IRA than they can to a self-owned traditional or Roth IRA. The 2024 contribution limit for SIMPLE IRAs is $16,000 (up from $15,500 in 2023), and participants age 50 or over can make catch-up contributions to the tune of $3,500 this year (unchanged from last year).

On the downside, that contribution limit is lower than the limit for 401(k)s. Also, because contributions are made pretax, participants can’t deduct them, nor can they take out plan loans. Then again, making pretax contributions does lower their taxable income.

Perhaps most important is that employer contributions to SIMPLE IRAs are mandatory — you can’t skip them if cash flow gets tight. However, generally, you may deduct contributions as a business expense.

Is now the time?

Overall, the job market remains somewhat tight and, in some industries, the competition for skilled labor is fierce. Offering one of these IRA types may enable you to attract and retain quality employees more readily. Some small businesses may even qualify for a tax credit if they start a SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA or other eligible plan. We can help you decide whether now is the right time to do so.

© 2024


Tax-wise ways to take cash from your corporation while avoiding dividend treatment

If you want to withdraw cash from your closely held corporation at a low tax cost, the easiest way is to distribute cash as a dividend. However, a dividend distribution isn’t tax efficient since it’s taxable to you to the extent of your corporation’s “earnings and profits,” but it’s not deductible by the corporation.

5 different approaches

Thankfully, there are some alternative methods that may allow you to withdraw cash from a corporation while avoiding dividend treatment. Here are five possible options:

1. Salary. Reasonable compensation that you, or family members, receive for services rendered to the corporation is deductible by the business. However, it’s also taxable to the recipient(s). The same rule applies to any compensation (in the form of rent) that you receive from the corporation for the use of property. In either case, the amount of compensation must be reasonable in relation to the services rendered or the value of the property provided. If it’s excessive, the excess will be nondeductible and treated as a corporate distribution.

2. Fringe benefits. Consider obtaining the equivalent of a cash withdrawal in fringe benefits that are deductible by the corporation and not taxable to you. Examples are life insurance, certain medical benefits, disability insurance and dependent care. Most of these benefits are tax-free only if provided on a nondiscriminatory basis to other employees of the corporation. You can also establish a salary reduction plan that allows you (and other employees) to take a portion of your compensation as nontaxable benefits, rather than as taxable compensation.

3. Capital repayments. To the extent that you’ve capitalized the corporation with debt, including amounts that you’ve advanced to the business, the corporation can repay the debt without the repayment being treated as a dividend. Additionally, interest paid on the debt can be deducted by the corporation. This assumes that the debt has been properly documented with terms that characterize debt and that the corporation doesn’t have an excessively high debt-to-equity ratio. If not, the “debt” repayment may be taxed as a dividend. If you make cash contributions to the corporation in the future, consider structuring them as debt to facilitate later withdrawals on a tax-advantaged basis.

4. Loans. You may withdraw cash from the corporation tax-free by borrowing money from it. However, to avoid having the loan characterized as a corporate distribution, it should be properly documented in a loan agreement or a note and be made on terms that are comparable to those on which an unrelated third party would lend money to you. This should include a provision for interest and principal. All interest and principal payments should be made when required under the loan terms. Also, consider the effect of the corporation’s receipt of interest income.

5. Property sales. You can withdraw cash from the corporation by selling property to it. However, certain sales should be avoided. For example, you shouldn’t sell property to a more than 50% owned corporation at a loss, since the loss will be disallowed. And you shouldn’t sell depreciable property to a more than 50% owned corporation at a gain, since the gain will be treated as ordinary income, rather than capital gain. A sale should be on terms that are comparable to those on which an unrelated third party would purchase the property. You may need to obtain an independent appraisal to establish the property’s value.

Minimize taxes

If you’re interested in discussing any of these ideas, contact us. We can help you get the maximum out of your corporation at the minimum tax cost.

© 2024


New option for unused funds in a 529 college savings plan

With the high cost of college, many parents begin saving with 529 plans when their children are babies. Contributions to these plans aren’t tax deductible, but they grow tax deferred. Earnings used to pay qualified education expenses can be withdrawn tax-free. However, earnings used for other purposes may be subject to income tax plus a 10% penalty.

What if you have a substantial balance in a 529 plan but your child doesn’t need all the money for college? Perhaps your child decided not to attend college or received a scholarship. Or maybe you saved for private college, but your child attended a lower-priced state university.

What should you do with unused funds? One option is to pay the tax and penalties and spend the money on whatever you wish. But there are more tax-efficient options, including a new 529-to-Roth IRA transfer.

Nuts and bolts

Beginning in 2024, you can transfer unused funds in a 529 plan to a Roth IRA for the same beneficiary, without tax or penalties. These rollovers are subject to several rules and limits:

  • Transfers have a lifetime maximum of $35,000 per beneficiary.
  • The 529 plan must have existed for at least 15 years.
  • The rollover must be through a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer.
  • Transferred funds can’t include contributions made within the preceding five years or earnings on those contributions.
  • Transfers are subject to the annual limits on contributions to Roth IRAs (without regard to income limits).

For example, let’s say you opened a 529 plan for your son after he was born in 2001. When your son graduated from college in 2023, there was $30,000 left in the account. In 2024, under the new option, you can begin transferring funds into your son’s Roth IRA. Since the 529 plan was opened at least 15 years ago (and no contributions were made in the last five years), the only restriction on rollover is the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. Assuming your son hasn’t made any other IRA contributions for 2024, you can roll over up to $7,000 (if your son has at least that much earned income for the year).

If your son’s earned income for 2024 is less than $7,000, the amount eligible for a rollover will be reduced. For example, if he takes an unpaid internship and earns $4,000 during the year from a part-time job, the most you can roll over for the year is $4,000.

A 529-to-Roth IRA rollover is an appealing option to avoid tax and penalties on unused funds, while helping the beneficiaries start saving for retirement. Roth IRAs are a great savings vehicle for young people because they’ll enjoy tax-free withdrawals decades later.

Other options

Roth IRA rollovers aren’t the only option for avoiding tax and penalties on unused 529 plan funds. You can also change a plan’s beneficiary to another family member. Or you can use 529 plans for continuing education, certain trade schools, or even up to $10,000 per year of elementary through high school tuition. In addition, you can withdraw funds tax-free to pay down student loan debt, up to $10,000 per beneficiary.

It’s not unusual for parents to end up with unused 529 funds. Contact us if you have questions about the most tax-wise way to handle them.

© 2024


Applying for a commercial loan with confidence

Few and far between are businesses that can either launch or grow without an infusion of outside capital. In some cases, that capital comes in the form of a commercial loan from a bank or some other type of lender.

If you and your company’s leadership team believe a loan will soon be necessary, it’s important to approach the endeavor with confidence. That starts with having valid, well-considered strategic reasons for borrowing. From there, you need to engage your bank or a prospective lender with a strong air of professionalism and certainty.

Essential questions

First, familiarize yourself with how the process works. It’s essentially built on four basic questions:

  1. How much money do you want?
  2. How do you plan to use the loan proceeds?
  3. When do you need the funds?
  4. How soon can you repay the loan?

Your loan officer will also likely ask about your business’s previous sources of financing. So, be ready to explain how you’ve financed your company to date. Methods may include personal cash infusions, forgone salaries and sweat equity, as well as any equity contributions from friends, family members and outside investors.

Loan products

As you’re probably aware, banks and lenders offer a variety of commercial loan products. Another way of expressing confidence is to know what you want. Common options include:

Lines of credit. One of these gives you access to an agreed-upon amount of funds that you can draw on as needed. As is the case with a credit card, you pay interest only on the outstanding balance.

Traditional term loans. These are what most people likely envision when they see the term “commercial loan.” You receive a lump sum with repayment terms, which include a payment schedule and interest rate.

Asset-based loans. True to the name, asset-based loans typically fund equipment purchases or plant expansions. The length of the loan is usually tied to the life of the asset being financed, and that asset is usually pledged as collateral.

Supporting documents

No matter the product, banks and lenders want to work with serious borrowers who are deeply knowledgeable about the financial condition and projected performance of their businesses. To this end, don’t go into the initial meeting empty-handed. Prepare a comprehensive loan application package that includes:

  • A “statement of purpose” explaining your strategic plans for the funds,
  • Your business plan,
  • Three years of financial statements, if available,
  • Three years of business tax returns, if available,
  • Personal financial statements and tax returns for all owners,
  • Appraisals of any assets pledged as collateral, and
  • Carefully prepared, reasonable financial projections.

Remember that most loan officers have been around the block. They know how to critically evaluate financial documents and prospective borrowers’ underlying assumptions. As much as possible, support your case with market research and data. Be confident — but realistic — about your strengths and market opportunities, as well as forthcoming about the challenges you’ll likely face in accomplishing your strategic objectives.

If your bank or lender finds your business a viable borrower, your application will be given to an underwriting committee or department. Underwriters will have greater confidence in your financial statements if they’re prepared by a CPA and conform to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Professionally prepared financial projections are also recommended.

Shop around

Underwriters don’t approve every loan application, so don’t give up if a bank or lender turns you down. In fact, it’s a good idea to shop around. For help preparing to apply for a commercial loan and managing the approval process, contact us.

© 2024


Better tax break when applying the research credit against payroll taxes

The credit for increasing research activities, often referred to as the research and development (R&D) credit, is a valuable tax break available to certain eligible small businesses. Claiming the credit involves complex calculations, which we’ll take care of for you.

But in addition to the credit itself, be aware that there are two additional features that are especially favorable to small businesses:

  • Eligible small businesses ($50 million or less in gross receipts for the three prior tax years) may claim the credit against alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.
  • The credit can be used by certain smaller startup businesses against their Social Security payroll and Medicare tax liability.

Let’s take a look at the second feature. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has doubled the amount of the payroll tax credit election for qualified businesses and made a change to the eligible types of payroll taxes it can be applied to, making it better than it was before the law changes kicked in.

Election basics

Subject to limits, your business can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credit that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence you to undertake or increase your research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in — or are planning to undertake — research activities without regard to tax consequences, you could receive some tax relief.

Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Thus, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, any wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. Therefore, the payroll tax election is an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that you earn. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.

Eligible businesses

To qualify for the election a taxpayer must:

  • Have gross receipts for the election year of less than $5 million, and
  • Be no more than five years past the period for which it had no receipts (the start-up period).

In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer considers are from the individual’s businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that an entity or individual can’t make the election for more than six years in a row.

Limits on the election

The research credit for which the taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied against the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare. It can’t be used to lower the FICA taxes that an employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees. Before a provision in the IRA became effective for 2023 and later years, taxpayers were only allowed to use the payroll tax offset against Social Security, not Medicare.

The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $500,000. Prior to the IRA, the maximum credit amount allowed to offset payroll tax before 2023 was only $250,000. Note, too, that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for the research credit to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.

These are just the basics of the payroll tax election. Keep in mind that identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex task. Contact us about whether you can benefit from the payroll tax election and the research tax credit.

© 2024


A job loss is bad but the tax implications could make it worse

Unemployment has been holding steady recently at 3.7%. But there are still some people losing their jobs — particularly in certain industries including technology and media. If you’re laid off or terminated from employment, taxes are likely the last thing on your mind. However, there are tax implications due to your altered employment circumstances.

Depending on your situation, the tax aspects can be complex and require you to make decisions that may affect your tax bill for this year and for years to come. Be aware of these three areas.

1.Unemployment and payments from your former employer

Many people are surprised to find out that federal unemployment compensation is taxable. (Some states exempt unemployment comp from state tax.) In addition, payments from a former employer for any accumulated vacation or sick time are taxable. Although severance pay is also taxable and subject to federal income tax withholding, some elements of a severance package may get special treatment. For example:

  • If you sell stock acquired by way of an incentive stock option (ISO), part or all of your gain may be taxed at lower long-term capital gain rates rather than at ordinary income tax rates, depending on whether you meet a special dual holding period.
  • If you received — or will receive — what’s commonly referred to as a “golden parachute payment,” you may be subject to an excise tax equal to 20% of the portion of the payment that’s treated as an “excess parachute payment” under very complex rules, along with the excess parachute payment also being subject to ordinary income tax.
  • The value of job placement assistance you receive from your former employer usually is tax-free. However, the assistance is taxable if you had a choice between receiving cash or outplacement help.

2.Health insurance costs

Under the COBRA rules, employers that offer group health coverage generally must provide continuation coverage to most terminated employees and their families. While the cost of COBRA coverage is usually expensive, the amount of any premium you pay for insurance that covers medical care is an eligible medical expense for tax purposes. That means it’s deductible if you itemize deductions and if your total medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

If your former employer pays some of your medical coverage for a period of time after termination, you won’t be taxed on the value of the benefit.

3.Retirement plan balance

Employees whose employment is terminated may need tax planning help to determine the best option for amounts they’ve accumulated in retirement plans sponsored by former employers, such as a 401(k) plan. In many cases, a direct, tax-free rollover to an IRA is the best move. You may also choose to leave the account in your previous employer’s 401(k) plan (although the employer may elect to distribute the funds to you). Or, if you get a new job, you may want to transfer the money in the account with your former employer to your new employer’s 401(k) plan.

If you’re under age 59½, and make withdrawals from your former company’s plan or IRA to supplement missing income, you may owe an additional 10% penalty tax unless you qualify for an exception.

If a distribution from the retirement plan includes employer securities in a lump sum, the distribution is taxed under the lump-sum rules, except that “net unrealized appreciation” in the value of the stock isn’t taxed until the securities are sold or otherwise disposed of in a later transaction.

Further, any loans you’ve taken out from your former employer’s retirement plan, such as a 401(k)-plan loan, may be required to be repaid immediately, or within a specified period. If they aren’t, they may be treated as if the loan is in default. If the balance of the loan isn’t repaid within the required period, it will typically be treated as a taxable deemed distribution.

If you need assistance, contact us. We can help you navigate the best path forward during this transition period.

© 2024


Empower your sellers with sales enablement

The driving revenue force of just about every kind of business is sales. But all too often, once a sales team is up and running, it’s left to its own devices to maintain its strengths, develop new skills and upgrade its technology. This can produce mixed results — some sales departments are remarkably self-sufficient while others could really use more organizational support.

To remove the guesswork, many of today’s businesses are investing in sales enablement. This is an enterprise-wide, collaborative and continuous approach to empowering the sales department to do its best work.

Pillars of the concept

Wait a minute, you might say, isn’t sales enablement just another name for sales training? No, not entirely.

Training is certainly a part of the equation. A sales enablement program will involve ongoing training on the latest sales techniques, changes in the marketplace, the company’s latest products or services, and so forth. But this training doesn’t occur haphazardly — it’s regularly scheduled and typically segmented into easily digestible learning modules, generally a more effective approach than overloading sales reps with info on a sales retreat or in sporadic seminars.

There are several other pillars of sales enablement as well. One is content. Under their programs, many companies build a library of materials that features items such as:

  • Books and articles on best practices,
  • Customer testimonials,
  • Product “spec sheets,” slide decks and demos, and
  • Reports and spreadsheets with the latest competitive intelligence.

Another key feature of a sales enablement program is coaching. This may involve engaging outside consultants to provide coaching services to sales reps or developing internal mentoring or partnering.

Technology is also central to sales enablement. Most programs involve regular discussions with the leadership team and IT department about what tools could best serve the sales team. Notably, there are multiple software platforms on the market focused on sales enablement that can help businesses set up and manage their programs. Some customer relationship management software offers help in this area, too.

Benefits in the offing

There’s a reason sales enablement has caught on with many different types of companies. There are significant benefits in the offing.

First, a well-designed program can get new hires up to speed much more quickly than a more casual, ad hoc approach to “rookie” training. And for fully onboarded and seasoned employees, sales enablement can save time and effort by providing easy access to the relevant and up-to-date data, content and tools that support their activities. Ultimately, it can boost productivity for the whole team and, thereby, revenue for the business.

Also, the ongoing training and coaching features of sales enablement help sales reps keep their skills sharp and their knowledge growing. The aforementioned learning modules, webinars, podcasts, quizzes and other learning formats may give them an edge over competitors with less educational support.

There’s the engagement factor, too. A sales enablement program communicates to new hires, as well as established reps, that the organization fully supports them. As word gets around, you may attract stronger job candidates and enjoy better employee retention rates.

A major initiative

As the saying goes, nothing worth doing is easy. To implement and run a successful sales enablement program, you’ll need to invest considerable time and resources. And before any of that, you’ll need to set clear, measurable objectives — as well as a reasonable budget. For help with the financial side of planning a major initiative like this, contact us.

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