Tag Archives: small business

Financial statements tell your business’s story, inside and out

Ask many entrepreneurs and small business owners to show you their financial statements and they’ll likely open a laptop and show you their bookkeeping software. Although tracking financial transactions is critical, spreadsheets aren’t financial statements.

In short, financial statements are detailed and carefully organized reports about the financial activities and overall position of a business. As any company evolves, it will likely encounter an increasing need to properly generate these reports to build credibility with outside parties, such as investors and lenders, and to make well-informed strategic decisions.

These are the typical components of financial statements:

Income statement. Also known as a profit and loss statement, the income statement shows revenues and expenses for a specified period. To help show which parts of the business are profitable (or not), it should carefully match revenues and expenses.

Balance sheet. This provides a snapshot of a company’s assets and liabilities. Assets are items of value, such as cash, accounts receivable, equipment and intellectual property. Liabilities are debts, such as accounts payable, payroll and lines of credit. The balance sheet also states the company’s net worth, which is calculated by subtracting total liabilities from total assets.

Cash flow statement. This shows how much cash a company generates for a particular period, which is a good indicator of how easily it can pay its bills. The statement details the net increase or decrease in cash as a result of operations, investment activities (such as property or equipment sales or purchases) and financing activities (such as taking out or repaying a loan).

Retained earnings/equity statement. Not always included, this statement shows how much a company’s net worth grew during a specified period. If the business is a corporation, the statement details what percentage of profits for that period the company distributed as dividends to its shareholders and what percentage it retained internally.

Notes to financial statements. Many if not most financial statements contain a supplementary report to provide additional details about the other sections. Some of these notes may take the form of disclosures that are required under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — the most widely used set of accounting rules and standards. Others might include supporting calculations or written clarifications.

Financial statements tell the ongoing narrative of your company’s finances and profitability. Without them, you really can’t tell anyone — including yourself — precisely how well you’re doing. We can help you generate these reports to the highest standards and then use them to your best advantage.

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Partner Announcement

meagan partner picLangdon & Company LLP is pleased to announce that Meagan L. Bulloch, CPA has been admitted as partner in our audit practice.  Meagan joined Langdon & Company LLP in 2008 and has over ten years of public accounting experience including work for Ernst and Young LLP in their Raleigh, NC office.  She is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science in Accounting.

Meagan’s focus is to provide audit and attest services to clients primarily in the nonprofit, healthcare and small business industries.  She is also experienced in the preparation of Medicare and Medicaid cost reports.  Meagan was also recently published in the Common Ground newsletter, a publication of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits.  She is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Meagan lives in Angier, North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Small Business in North Carolina

by Russell Barker18th

Did you know there are approximately 833k small businesses in North Carolina?  That’s a pretty big number.  Why we are talking about this now? It is tax season and companies and individuals are gathering their information in order to either prepare or have their accountants their tax returns. You may or may not understand the process to get your tax returns accurately prepared and timely filed. I wanted to give you some guidelines to help.

Some people might think that gathering all their personal information and getting some of the business information is all you have to do.  The reality is that your first objective is to have your business’ books completed accurately.  You should ensure that all the bank accounts (including credit cards and loans) are updated and reconciled.  Be certain to capture any supplies or equipment  purchased near year-end in your books.  This will ensure that you obtain the proper expense and depreciation deductions you are entitled to.

The reason to get your company books in order first is because most small business (sole proprietor, Sub-S, Partnership, LLP, LLC) income will flow into your personal return.  It is important that you or  your tax preparer has all the proper information to complete both. Delays in the business returns will cause delays in having your personal returns processed.

This is just a quick reminder for you to think about so you can prepare all supporting documentation and have it ready for your tax preparer.

Remember 2015 taxes are due April 18th! Contact Langdon & Company LLP for help in getting 2015 tax return prepared or extended.

Russell (rbarker@langdoncpa.com) is part of Langdon & Company’s Accounting Services department. He works primarily with doctor’s practices.

Update on Increase of Deduction for Purchase of Tangible Property

by Eric Murphy

For several years, the IRS has deemed that tangible assets used in business such as equipment and computers with a purchase price of more than $500 must be capitalized and depreciated based on the Assets’ useful life.  Any money spent below $500 on an asset that would have traditionally be capitalized, could be expensed in the year of purchase instead.  The IRS made this rule under the Tangible Property Regulations, specifically Reg. 1.263(a)-1(f)(1)(ii)(D).  This deduction was allowed for businesses that didn’t have annual financial statements subjected to annual audits.

Under IRS Notice 2015-82,  the lower tier safe harbor amount was increased from $500 to $2,500 of costs per tangible item and can now be expensed instead of being capitalized for small businesses that don’t have audited annual financial statements.  This ruling will take effect for the tax year beginning January 1, 2016 all future years unless a modification is made at a future date.  The IRS will also not challenge amounts between $500 and $2500 that were expensed in prior years between December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2015 that should have been capitalized.book stack

If you’re a business owner who wants to make sure their purchases are properly recorded and reported in their financial statements and tax returns, contact Langdon & Company LLP.  Our team of highly skilled tax and bookkeeping professionals will assist you in making sure your company’s financial activity is reported properly and in conformity with all legally mandated requirements.  We will also analyze your statements and make suggestions on ways you can become more profitable and efficient to the best of our ability.

Eric (emurphy@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior in the Langdon & Company LLP tax practice. He works with a variety of clients in preparation of tax returns and other projects.

 

The Importance of Separation of Duties

by Katie Anthony

It is important to have levels of separation of duties in your business. You may say that you are a very small business and cannot afford to have many employees. That may be true, in which case you can add approval and double sign-offs on items of significance as well as review of certain processes. You may be in a situation where you do not even have enough employees to do this. In such a case, it might benefit your company to set up a monthly or quarterly review by an outside accounting firm.

You may be asking why separation of duties is so important. A big reason is that although a greater number of frauds are perpetrated by employees low on the ladder, greater amounts are stolen by employees at the management level. The ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse: 2014 Global Fraud Study reports that employees committed 42% of occupational frauds but caused a median loss of $75,000, while executives committed 19% of occupational frauds with a median loss of $500,000. These high level employees are trusted and intelligent, so they are able to get away with the fraudulent activities for a longer period of time, enabling them to steal larger amounts of money.fraud triangle

There are three elements to occupational fraud, which are opportunity, rationalization, and pressure, as credited to Donald Cressey. He believed that these three elements must all be present for an ordinary person to commit fraud (Fraud Examiners Manual: 2014 US Edition).

Let’s start with rationalization. You may not think you are able to influence someone else’s rationalization. However, some people rationalize fraudulent actions by saying that they are owed what they are stealing from the organization because they feel underappreciated. You need to take steps to make sure that you pay your employees appropriately for their roles and that you do things occasionally to show your employees that you appreciate them. Employees sometimes even rationalize their behavior based on what they see employees higher than themselves doing. That means you! Keep in mind that your employees are watching you to set the tone of the business.

While you cannot remove pressures employees feel from those outside of your organization, you can make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on them from within. This means doing evaluations that are not only one-sided, but rather structured so that your employees can give feedback about their workloads and stress levels. If you overwork your employees they may feel pressure to take shortcuts that eventually lead to fraudulent actions.

Last but not least, is opportunity. Separation of duties and reviews can really help with this element. If employees feel that no one looks at their work, they may take that opportunity to begin stealing, especially if the other two elements of the fraud triangle are present. By adding separation of duties and reviews, you are filling a gap that will help keep your business healthy. If, despite all your precautions, one of your employees IS stealing, separation of duties and reviews will help catch them. The ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse: 2014 Global Fraud Study goes on to show that review is second only to a tip in discovering frauds in small businesses.

While no plan to prevent and detect fraud is perfect, each step you take will help. Langdon and Company LLP knows that you want to keep your business healthy and thriving. L&C can help you define the duties in your processes that need separation as well as provide review services for your organization. Contact our office today with any questions or concerns you have.

Katie (kanthony@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Staff at L&C and works with a variety of clients.

The Why, Who, What and How of an effective audit committee for nonprofit organizations

by Meagan Bullochhands

The establishing and maintaining an audit committee is considered a best practice for nonprofit organizations.  An audit committee can greatly help the governing board perform their fiduciary and oversight roles over financial reporting, reducing risk and maintaining donor confidence.  Some organizations may utilize their finance committee as an audit committee.  What is important is not the form of the committee but the substance.

Q: Why should a nonprofit consider forming an audit committee?

A: In addition to Sarbanes Oxley and state requirements imposed for organization’s soliciting funds within certain states, the Form 990 asks if an organization has an audit committee.  Although, such a committee is not a requirement, the establishment of one is considered a best practice by the IRS.  As the Form 990 is a public document, answering “no” to this question may lead to funders questioning why the organization is not following a suggested best practice.  The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Audit Committee Toolkit: Not-for-Profit Organizations, 2nd Edition (available at AICPA Store) lists numerous reasons as to why a nonprofit organization should consider forming an audit committee, including providing better: financial results, decision-making in terms of accuracy and quality of financial reporting; ability to build stronger relationships with stakeholders; as well as facilitating transitions in leadership.

Q:  Who makes the best audit committee members?

A:  Audit committee’s typically consist of 3-6 members with diverse backgrounds and experience all of which are considered “financially literate.”  To be financially literate, members should be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements and recognize when the numbers along with associated disclosures to not make business sense.  Additionally, the best audit committee members are fully involved and engaged with the organization and ensure that two-way constructive dialogue occurs at all times between all parties involved.  Members should also be independent in both fact and appearance.  To be truly effective, the committee must be able to resist any attempt by management to compromise financial reporting.  The following relationships are considered to impair independence:

  1.  An audit committee member who is or has been an officer or employee of the organization during the past 3 years
  2. A member who is an immediate family member of an officer or someone in management
  3. A member who has a direct business relationship with the organization in the past three years; such as a consultant

Q:  Who can serve as a financial expert on the audit committee?

A:  The inclusion of at least one financial expert is a highly recommended best practice.  The following attributed are deemed essential components of a financial expert:

  1.  An understanding of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and nonprofit financial statements
  2.   The ability to assess the general application of such principles in connection with the accounting for estimates, accruals and reserves
  3. Experience preparing, auditing, analyzing or evaluating financial statements that are comparable to those of the organization
  4. An understanding of internal controls and procedures for financial reporting
  5. An understanding of the audit committee function
  6. A general understanding of nonprofit financial issues and specific knowledge of the nonprofit industry in which the organization operates

It is worth noting that an audit committee financial expert has no greater obligations or liability than any other members of the audit committee and board of directors who are not designated as financial experts.

Q:  What should be the mission of an effective audit committee?

A:  Simply put, the mission should be oversight.  Specifically, the following areas should be their main focus:

  1.  Financial reporting
  2. Risk Management

Audit function – oversight of and communication with independent auditors, both internal and external

Langdon & Company LLP will be happy to assist with your audit needs.  Please contact our office!

Meagan Bulloch (mbulloch@langdoncpa.com) is an audit manager at Langdon & Company LLP focused primarily on non-profit clients.

The Fine Line: Debt vs. Equity

by Bennett Strickland

Distinguishing between debt and equity has long been debated in the accounting world and is one of the most complex issues in practice today.  Take an instrument like mandatorily redeemable preferred stock for example.  Is it classified as a liability or as equity?  This clearly affects reported amounts of liabilities and equity, and also things such as the debt-to-equity ratio and the asset-to-equity ratio.

debt equityThe line between liabilities and equity is also critical in measuring income.  So companies began to take advantage of manipulating their debt and equity and therefore manipulating their net income.  Neither changes in the values of a company’s outstanding equity instruments or transactions between a company and its owners, affect reported income.  Whereas, interest payments and at least some changes in the values of liabilities actually do affect reported income.

A lot of companies will try and classify their equity as debt and some may get away with it.  However, the consequences can be substantial if the IRS deems that the company needs to reclassify.  In Laidlow Transportation Inc. v. commissioner (TC Memo 1998-332), the taxpayer’s tax liability was increased by more than $55 million after the IRS made the company reclassify their debt as equity.  So when companies are walking the fine line of debt versus equity they must ask themselves, is it worth it?

The staff at Langdon & Company LLP are all too familiar with such an issue and would be happy to help your company decide which classification is proper.  Please contact our office for more information.

Bennett (bstrickland@langdoncpa.com) is an auditor at Langdon & Company LLP.  He primarily focuses on healthcare and nonprofit organizations.

Accounting Changes for Goodwill

by Dwayne Murphy

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-02 is giving private companies another option when it comes to accounting for goodwill. Effective for new goodwill recognized in annual periods beginning after December 31, 2014 (early adoption is permitted).  Private companies will be able to subsequently amortize goodwill on a straight-line basis over a period of ten years, or less if the company is able to demonstrate that a lower useful life is better suited.  Before this update U.S. GAAP did not allow any amortization of goodwill.Goodwill

FASB Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-02 also permits private companies to use a simplified impairment model, which allows them to test for impairment only when a triggering event occurs that would indicate that the fair value of a company (or a reporting unit) may have fallen below its carrying amount.  If the accounting alternative election is made, an additional election of whether to test goodwill for impairment at either the company level or the reporting unit level must be made.  Before this update U.S. GAAP required that testing of impairment be done at least annually and in some cases more frequently if certain conditions were met.

These changes should be beneficial to private companies as it allows for amortization expense and it lessens the burden of not having to test for impairment every year.

For public companies and not-for-profit companies the FASB is still considering the following alternatives for goodwill accounting at their last meeting on March 26, 2014:

  1. Same alternative as listed above for private companies.
  2. Amortize goodwill with impairment tests over its useful life, not to exceed a maximum number of years.
  3. The direct write-off of goodwill at the acquisition date.
  4. A nonamortization approach that uses a simplified impairment test.

Dwayne Murphy (dmurphy@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior Accountant with Langdon & Company LLP.  He specializes in audit, serving a wide variety of nonprofit organizations.

Small Actions with Big Impacts: Internal Controls for Nonprofits

by Rebecca Lunn

Given the small size or small budget of many nonprofits, some organizations may find it tempting to skimp on the internal controls of the entity. However, there are many controls that are inexpensive or easy to implement that can create a big impact in your organization.balance pai

For example, although your organization may lack employees, you can involve individuals outside the accounting function, such as the receptionist, in tasks such as opening the mail or logging invoices, to increase segregation of duties. Limiting the number of people with access to checks, limiting check signers, and simply marking invoices “paid” can also strengthen controls around cash disbursements. Developing written policies, such as a code of conduct or capitalization policy, can provide a guideline for employees to follow, creating consistency across the organization. Also, even though it may seem like an unnecessary expense, often using a payroll service to process regular payroll and prepare tax filings is often the most efficient and cost-effective manner for ensuring all laws and regulations are met. Lastly, if your nonprofit has a board of directors, it is important to report the financial position to the board on a periodic basis. This will allow the board to take any necessary actions when things are not operating as planned. Also, keeping detailed board minutes will ensure that formal approval is documented for important decisions affecting the organization. These steps are just a few of the numerous ways implementing simple controls can strengthen your organization.

If your nonprofit needs assistance in developing stronger internal controls, or improving upon existing controls, please contact our firm for more information on how we can help.

Rebecca Lunn (rlunn@langdoncpa.com) is an Senior Accountant at Langdon & Company LLP.  She specializes in financial and compliance auditing for governments and nonprofit organizations.

Accounting Services Requirements

by Russell Barker

The accounting services department at Langdon and Company LLP utilizes a customized approach to serve many companies by providing varied aspects of a “backoffice” accounting department.  We can perform the following functions: accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, payroll and financial reporting.  We communicate with the client to ensure that we have the needed documentation to properly record transactions.  We process transactions on a monthly or quarterly basis for general ledger processing based on the clients’ needs.  We also provide payroll services and offer direct deposit.  To efficiently and effectively perform these functions, great communication is required.  There is supporting information and documentation that is needed.

Typically, for a small business items such as bank statements, invoices, billing records, loan records, amortization schedules, credit card statements, etc. are required in order post to the general ledger.  For payroll, employee information, hours and pay rate is needed.  In order to properly maintain fixed asset records, invoices and applicable financing records are needed.

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With the client providing all appropriate documentation on a monthly basis and L&C recording proper transactions, this will enable our year end process to be more efficient, precise and timely in order for the tax department prepare the clients tax returns in a timely fashion.

 

Russell Barker is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor in the Accounting Services department at Langdon & Company LLP.  He specializes in periodic reviews for a variety of physician’s practices.