Automating your accounting department

Many businesses have adopted robotic process automation (RPA), or plan to do so in the future. While most RPA initiatives target “core” business operations, routine accounting functions also can be automated to help lower costs and allow personnel to focus on higher-level analyses and strategic projects. Here’s some insight into how to integrate RPA in your accounting department. Paving the wayIn general, RPA eliminates the need for manual (human) intervention. In the accounting department, automation software can assume control of such tasks as journal entries, bank reconciliations, and certain aspects...

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The home office deduction: Actual expenses vs. the simplified method

If you run your business from your home or perform certain functions at home that are related to your business, you might be able to claim a home office deduction against your business income on your 2018 income tax return. Thanks to a tax law change back in 2013, there are now two methods for claiming this deduction: the actual expenses method and the simplified method. Basics of the deductionIn general, you’ll qualify for a home office deduction if part of your home is used “regularly and exclusively” as your...

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Why you shouldn’t wait to file your 2018 income tax return

The IRS opened the 2018 income tax return filing season on January 28. Even if you typically don’t file until much closer to the April 15 deadline, this year consider filing as soon as you can. Why? You can potentially protect yourself from tax identity theft — and reap other benefits, too. What is tax identity theft?In a tax identity theft scheme, a thief uses your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return early in the tax filing season and claim a bogus refund. You discover the fraud when...

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Why you shouldn’t wait to file your 2018 income tax return

The IRS opened the 2018 income tax return filing season on January 28. Even if you typically don’t file until much closer to the April 15 deadline, this year consider filing as soon as you can. Why? You can potentially protect yourself from tax identity theft — and reap other benefits, too. What is tax identity theft? In a tax identity theft scheme, a thief uses your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return early in the tax filing season and claim a bogus refund. You discover the fraud...

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IRS issues guidance to ease transition to FASB’s new revenue recognition rule

In 2014, a new accounting standard on how to recognize revenue from contracts was issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Now the IRS is allowing a new automatic change in accounting method for businesses to use to conform with the new financial accounting standard. This will allow for more book-tax conformity and facilitate accounting method change requests associated with adopting the new standard. New accounting rules Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, goes into effect in 2018 for public companies and 2019 for...

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Provide for your spouse, then your kids, with a QTIP trust

If you want to preserve as much wealth as possible for your children, but you leave property to your spouse outright, there’s no guarantee your objective will be met. This may be a concern if your spouse has poor money management skills or if you two don’t see eye to eye on how assets should be distributed to your children. In both of these situations, a properly designed qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust may be the answer. How does it work? A QTIP trust provides your spouse with income...

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Your original will: Does your family know where to locate it?

In a world that’s increasingly paperless, you’re likely becoming accustomed to conducting a variety of transactions digitally. But when it comes to your last will and testament, only an original, signed document will do. A photocopy isn’t good enough Many people mistakenly believe that a photocopy of a signed will is sufficient. In fact, most states require that a deceased’s original will be filed with the county clerk and, if probate is necessary, presented to the probate court. If your family or executor can’t find your original will, there’s a...

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If charitable giving is part of your estate plan, consider a donor-advised fund

Do you make sizable gifts to charitable causes? If you’re fortunate enough to afford it, you can realize personal gratification from your generosity and may be able to claim a deduction on your tax return. But once you turn over the money or assets, you generally have no further say on how they’re used. You can exercise greater control over your charitable endeavors using a donor-advised fund (DAF). Setting up a DAF As the name implies, your recommendations are integral to a DAF. First, you contribute to a fund typically...

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4 ways to encourage innovation in customer service

When business people speak of innovation, the focus is usually on a pioneering product or state-of-the-art service that will “revolutionize the industry.” But innovation can apply to any aspect of your company — including customer service. Many business owners perceive customer service as a fairly cut-and-dried affair. Customers call, you answer their questions or solve their problems ― and life goes on. Yet there are ways to transform this function and, when companies do, word gets around. People want to do business with organizations that are easy to interact with....

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Ask the right questions about your IT strategy

Most businesses approach technology as an evolving challenge. You don’t want to overspend on bells and whistles you’ll never fully use, but you also don’t want to get left behind as competitors use the latest tech tools to operate more nimbly. To refine your IT strategy over time, you’ve got to regularly reassess your operations and ask the right questions. Here are a few to consider: Are we bogged down by outdated tech? More advanced analytical software can eliminate many time-consuming, repeatable tasks. Systems based on paper files and handwritten...

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