For the first time since 2004, it looks like there will be a salary level increase that triggers overtime pay.
In March, the U.S. Department of Labor released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to revise overtime regulations. The proposal is open to comments over the next couple of months. Comments for the Notice of Proposed Rule Making can be made at Regulations.gov.
The proposed changes could impact 1.1 million current exempt employees nationwide.
While the Final Rule won’t be published until late in 2019, anticipated changes to the overtime levels will go into effect in 2020. Small businesses should start preparing for changes to their payroll.
What are the Proposed Salary Levels Changes for Overtime Pay?
Currently, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. Under the proposed changes, the salary level increases to $679 per week or $35,308 per year.
Are Highly Compensated Employees Impacted By the Proposal?
Highly Compensated Employees’ salary threshold increases from $100,000 to $147,414 per year.
Does Overtime Protections Change for all Employees?
According to the Department of Labor, the proposal does not change overtime protections for:
- Police Officers
- Fire Fighters
- Laborers including non-management production-line employees
- Non-management employees in maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, and other construction workers
Can Bonuses Satisfy the Salary Levels?
The proposal will allow businesses to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments/commissions paid annually to satisfy up to 10% of the salary level.
Are There Exemptions from Overtime with this Proposal?
There are a few exemptions under the proposal. Employees must:
- Be paid a predetermined and fixed salary not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed
- Be paid at least $679 per week
- Perform primarily executive, administrative, or professional duties
How Will Employers Be Impacted?
Many small businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality industry, work hard to manage their exempt and nonexempt payroll budget with an eye on overtime thresholds.
The proposed changes could significantly impact small business budgets.
Small businesses may have to consider increasing impacted employee salaries to at least $679 to avoid paying overtime. Budget constraints may force some businesses to downsize to comply with the proposed changes.
Too Busy to Keep Up with Your Bookkeeping? Delegate Your Tasks
We understand how keeping up with changes to regulations like those proposed above can challenge busy managers and business owners. We’d love to help you with many of your time-consuming business tasks: bookkeeping, administrative, and marketing. Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.
Your website is the hub of your online brand presence. Google, Facebook, and other online media will pull information from your site to present information to their audience.
When developing your website and webpages, you have an opportunity to recommend how you want these online companies to present your business.
For Google, you can provide title tags and meta descriptions on your webpage that the search engine will pull and show on their search results. Many small businesses already provide meta information on their site.
However, many neglect to provide Facebook and other social media with the information they need to present your website the way you’d like.
How Facebook Shares a Webpage That’s Not Optimized
A number of years ago, Facebook developed Open Graph Protocol that extracts titles, images, URL and meta information from shared webpages. This is a wonderful way for you to control how your business is presented to the social media’s audience.
Let’s take a look at how Facebook presents an unoptimized webpage. We’ll share a Facebook screenshot of Business Solutions Unlimited home page before we’ve optimized the Open Graph content.
This home page image is how Facebook guessed what information to present on a page without Open Graph tags.
Not very appealing. Facebook randomly pulled what they considered to be an appropriate image—BSU’s logo. Unfortunately, the logo is not optimized to fit Facebook’s image ratio. So the logo is cropped.
Additionally, Facebook pulled copy from the page that isn’t likely to generate an enthusiastic click.
This is a missed opportunity to present our Brand the way we would like.
How an Optimized Open Graph Tag Looks on Facebook
We’ve provided content for Facebook to extract from our home page that represents how we’d like our brand to be portrayed.
We’ve provided a 1200px x 630px image similar to what the audience will find on our home page.
Additionally, we’ve provided a Facebook title that explains how we help small businesses.
By adding Open Graph information to our homepage, we’ve provided a better-looking image and stronger content to Facebook and other social media platforms.
While creating and providing Open Graph content to your webpages adds another task to your website development, it’s well worth it. Being able to control how your brand is presented online with better images and content can generate more shares, more clicks, and more business.
Is Managing Your Branded Social Media Website Shares More than You Can Manage? Reach Out for Help.
We’re here to help…from just this project to managing your social media, website and overall marketing strategy and tools. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call today at (904) 429-4588 and let us get busy optimizing Open Graph and more for you.
Nearly1% of taxpayers got audited on their 2017 tax returns. Likely, the majority of those tax returns turned up a red flag that warranted a deeper look by the IRS.
That number might rise this year as many people are dealing with the changes spurred by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Since many of us are preparing tax returns before the April 15 deadline, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the red flag items that could trigger an audit.
Making More than $200,000
Apparently, success can generate attention from the IRS. While about 1% of tax returns get audited, statistics show that the number increases to 4% for folks making $200k to $1million. If you’re a millionaire, that number rises to 12.5%.
Don’t think hiding income can reduce your chances of an audit. The IRS has a robust system to look for discrepancies. They’ll compare your return with the information they received from W-2s, 1099-MISCs, 1099-Ks and other forms. Failing to report income can generate an automatic IRS letter.
Being Overly Charitable
With charitable donations being one of the few remaining deductions available to taxpayers, it’s also one that could be noticed by the IRS—especially if it’s above the norm for your income level. Don’t worry about being too generous to charities. If you have the documentation proving your donations, you’ll satisfy the IRS.
Not Reporting Early Withdrawals from Retirement Funds
Sometimes you may need to dip into your retirement funds before turning 59 and a half. The IRS charges a 10% penalty on withdrawals unless it’s for eligible scenarios like purchasing a home for the first time, education expenses and emergency medical costs. Surprisingly, 40% of taxpayers didn’t report the withdrawals. Remember, the IRS has a robust discrepancy system and will know about that withdrawal.
Running a Business
The IRS is especially sensitive for returns from small business owners. They look for owners who report substantial losses and businesses that are typically cash-intensive (taxis, car washes, bars, hair salons, restaurants, freelancers, etc.). They’ll also look closely at your deductions for personal vs. business expenses. For example, is your car strictly used for business? How about larger than norm traveling expenses? Were those actual business-related meals you deducted? Keeping your deductions well documented can be a big help during an audit.
Claiming Hobby Losses
If you have a weekend passion that costs a bit of money, it might be tempting to write off some of those expenses. That makes you a prime audit target for the IRS. Multiple years of losses can be a red flag. If you show profit generation for three of every five years, the IRS will consider you an actual business. Again, documentation can be a big help to you.
Running a Marijuana Business
As states start legalizing medical marijuana, businesses are popping up everywhere to cash in. However, on the federal level, deductions of controlled substances are disallowed. The IRS is keeping an eye on legal marijuana firms.
Lesson Learned: Stay Well Documented
If you’re well documented, generally you’ll have nothing to fear is you receive a letter from the IRS. Keep in mind, the IRS can audit tax returns from three years ago. So keep your files well organized and handy for a few years.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks
As stated, recordkeeping is very important and while it could end up saving you in an audit it can be time-consuming. We can help! Delegate this and other business tasks such as bookkeeping, administrative, and marketing to us, a team of well trained, experienced professionals ready to put our skills to work for you. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and “You do what you do best; we’ll take care of the rest”.
When people type your business name in a search engine, what do they see?
Typing your business name in a search engine is considered a branded search. If you haven’t considered what a branded Google search for your business would look like, you should check it out.
Branded searches can be great for your business. Most businesses have found that branded searches account for a high percentage of their website traffic. In fact, branded keyword searches have shown a 2x higher conversion rate than non-branded searches.
Branded searches aren’t just about traffic to your website. As we shared last month on the importance of conducting a Google My Business audit, Google is working hard to serve up answers about your business without sending searchers to your website.
Why would a potential customer want to do a branded search on your business? They might have:
- Seen your ad in the mail, magazine or billboard
- Glimpsed a mention of your business on Facebook
- Been referred to your business by a past customer
In most cases, these searchers are considering doing business with you and want to check out your company.
What People Might See if They Google Your Business Name
Since these are potential customers, it’s important to understand what they might encounter when they search online for your business.
Here are some possibilities of a branded search:
At the top of the search result page: Pay-per-click ads from competitors who took advantage of your branded name as a keyword and paid to get their name above yours.
In the organic search section: They might see a link to your website that includes a meta-title and meta-description of your business. Also, they might see sitelinks to popular webpages on your site.
Other links they might see is your Facebook and other social media properties. Possibly there will be third-party review sites listing your business. If you’ve been mentioned in the news, there might be a link to the article. Also, if you have videos online, they might appear in the organic search section.
Your business information in a Knowledge Panel: If you have a Google My Business profile, likely you’ll have a Knowledge Panel showing the following information about your business:
- Your Name, address, and phone number
- Links to your website
- A button to call your business
- Hours of operation
- Customer reviews
- Links to directions and a Google Map with your location
- Photos and videos
- Google Posts
- Questions and answers
How to Manage Your Branded Search
For the most part, Google will provide search results that the search engine company deems useful to the intent of the searchers.
Your goal would be to provide the information that Google would find useful for the branded searches.
Maintain a Google My Business Presence: Make sure you have a Google My Business profile and have fully provided content to all of the available sections.
Make Sure Your Website is Optimized for Searches: This includes making sure your webpages have:
- Meta-titles and meta-descriptions
- Consistent name, address phone numbers
- Content that would be useful to potential customer searches
Create and Maintain Third Party Online Presence: Wherever you can create a profile online and provide content about your business, do so.
- Facebook and other social media networks
- Business listings
Consider PPC Ads if You Find Competitors on Your Branded Search: Being on top of the search engine results page is advantageous—it’s the location that gets the searchers immediate attention. That’s why your competitors are there—and why you should be as well.
Is Managing Your Branded Search Results More than You Can Manage? Reach Out for Help.
Given the importance Google is placing on branded searches, it’s imperative for your business to start managing what potential customers see.
If you’d like help, contact us for a free consultation. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us start helping your business today.
As tax season gets into gear, many small businesses will be adjusting to the major tax legislation passed in December 2017 and implemented in 2018.
As a small business, Business Solutions Unlimited makes it a point to stay up to date on current tax laws. That way we ensure we’re paying the right amount each year—plus reduce the impact of surprises that could impact our finances when the tax bill comes due.
While we don’t promote tax services as part of our virtual assistance services, we like to help keep other small businesses informed about tax issues.
So, let’s explore some of the tax matters that could impact your business this year.
Reduction of Corporate Tax Rate
C Corporations pay a flat 21%, reduced from a previous rate of 35%. While that’s great for some businesses, the elimination of the lower 15% corporate rate means some businesses will be paying the higher 21% rate this year.
Tax Relief for Pass-through Businesses
Sole proprietors may qualify for a 20% pass-through deduction of their QBI, qualified business income. Exceptions apply for businesses in the following industries:
- Actuarial Sciences
- Financial Services
- Brokerage Services
- Performing Arts
- Specified Service Trades/Business: Trade or business where principal asset is the skill of one or more employees
Entertainment & Meal Write-offs
In years past, businesses could write-off pretty much any entertainment expenses related to their business. Not anymore. The new tax law removed that option. However, taking clients out to dinner or bringing meals in for employees is still deductible.
Business Mileage Rates
Business standard mileage rate is 54.5 cents per mile. Businesses have a choice between standard mileage deductions and 50% of your actual driving expenses (gas, insurance, parking, tolls, repairs, etc). Most experts recommend business use the:
- Standard mileage rate if driving less than 50% for business
- Actual expenses if driving more than 50% for your business
Deductions (Section 179) on business asset purchases increased. That means you can deduct up to $1 million on qualifying assets purchased and placed into service after September 27, 2017. In many cases, this could be 100% of the cost of your purchase.
Bonus depreciation increased from 50% to 100% for qualified property purchased and placed into service after September 27, 2017.
Businesses that provide paid or medical leave to employees can get a temporary credit equal to 12.5% of the amount of wages paid during the leave.
Where to Get Answers on Small Business Taxes
It’s always good to go to the actual source when seeking information. That’s why we recommend going to this IRS webpage dedicated to how tax reform provisions affect businesses.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks
As QuickBooks ProAdvisors we can help you by providing experienced bookkeeping services and working with your tax preparer, saving you time and money. Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 to discuss this service and many more we offer to help you delegate time-consuming tasks while maintaining low overhead.