Avoid six common mistakes in selling a business

Most entrepreneurs eventually think about selling their businesses, whether as a prelude to retirement or to pursue other activities. In doing so, they often underestimate the effort required for a satisfactory outcome and overestimate the value and salability of their enterprises. If you’re contemplating selling, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Overestimating the value of your business.

Your price should be based on the fair market value of the business in its current form. Buyers won’t care about the work you’ve put into building your business or your unique vision for its future. [Read more…]

Make your plan accountable for best tax treatment

Are you looking for a way to give your employees a tax-free benefit that is also tax-deductible for your business? Why not consider an accountable plan?

An accountable plan is an arrangement that lets you reimburse your employees for expenses incurred on behalf of your company, such as driving to the post office or supply store. With a properly administered plan, you can deduct the reimbursements on your business tax return; yet the payments are not considered income to your employees.

How can you make sure your plan qualifies?

  • First, the reimbursements must be for allowable business expenses. For instance, you can repay employees for hotel and other travel expenses when traveling to a trade convention. [Read more…]

Tax filing reminders

  • —  September 16 – Third quarter installment of 2013 individual estimated income tax is due.
  • —  September 16 – Filing deadline for 2012 tax returns for calendar-year corporations that received an automatic extension of the March 15 filing deadline.
  • —  September 16 – Filing deadline for 2012 partnership tax returns that received an extension of the April 15 filing deadline.
  • —  October 1 – Generally, the deadline for businesses to adopt a SIMPLE retirement plan for 2013.
  • —  October 15 – Deadline for filing 2012 individual tax returns on extension.

Worker may get transfer to be closer to medical treatment

A secretary with the U.S. Forest Service might be entitled to a job transfer so she can live closer to available medical treatment for her vision problems, a federal appeals court recently decided.

The employee, who worked in Texas, suffered brain damage in a fall at work that resulted in her losing the left half of her field of vision. She requested a hardship transfer to an office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she would have access to specialists who were qualified to provide therapy for her injury.

The government denied her request, claiming it had no open position in Albuquerque. Her performance suffered because of her vision problems and she was forced to accept a demotion. [Read more…]

Alcohol testing could lead to discrimination claim

Many companies have substance abuse policies that require workers who have problems with drugs and alcohol to submit to random testing. If the worker fails a test, that can often be grounds for termination.

But a recent case from New Jersey shows that companies need to be very careful in how they handle such policies.

The case involved a woman who had worked for ExxonMobil for more than 30 years. She began to suffer from depression after her husband died, and while co-workers noticed a change in her demeanor, her performance apparently never suffered. Soon afterward, she voluntarily told a company nurse that she was an alcoholic and needed to enter a rehab program. [Read more…]

Companies are sued in court despite arbitration agreements

Arbitration agreements – in which workers and employers agree that any job disputes will be decided out of court by a neutral third party – are increasingly being used by businesses that want a quicker and more private way to resolve disputes.

But any such agreement needs to be worded and presented very carefully. Many businesses are finding that their agreements don’t protect them nearly as well as they thought.

For instance, a woman in Maine who was visibly pregnant during a job interview sued a prospective employer for pregnancy discrimination after she was turned down for a job.

The company said the case should go to arbitration, as required in its online job application. [Read more…]

New ‘undocumented worker’ program causes legal issues

A new government program that allows certain undocumented immigrants to receive temporary work authorizations is creating legal issues for both workers and employers.

The program is called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA. It allows undocumented workers who were born after June 15, 1981 and were under 16 when they arrived in the U.S. to receive authorization to stay and work here.

Applicants must (1) have a high school diploma or G.E.D., (2) be currently enrolled in high school or an equivalency program, or (3) be serving in or honorably discharged from the military. They must also have a clean criminal history (although they can have minor traffic violations on their record, or an arrest for driving without a license). [Read more…]

What happens if a boss thinks a worker is abusing medical leave?

Tom Seeger was a phone technician in Cincinnati who took medical leave from his company due to a herniated disc. While he was on leave, he attended an Oktoberfest celebration downtown, and ran into several co-workers. The co-workers later told the company that they had seen Seeger at the party, and that he didn’t seem terribly impaired.

The phone company responded by firing Seeger for abusing his medical leave.

Seeger was upset. He claimed that he was following his doctor’s orders, and the mere fact that he could walk a short distance at a party didn’t mean that he wasn’t in frequent pain or that he was able to return to work.

This type of dispute is arising much more frequently than in the past, and is leading to a lot of lawsuits. [Read more…]

If my trust is being dissolved and I am getting a portion (using present value calculations) will I be taxed?

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I normally pay taxes on the income of the trust. I don’t have access to the principle amount but my trustees have determined based on life expectancy and actuary tables that I can have a lump sum distribution. I was not given any documentation for the finances and I would like to confirm the amount is correct but my question is will I be taxed on that distribution (under $100K) and can I get a legal document signed saying I am not liable if I am taxed because the trustee said I was not to be [Read more…]

Power of Attorney

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My husband had a stroke a year ago. We have no will. He can’t write and his speak isn’t very well. My question is can he make me power of attorney if he can only make an x? Would that be legally binding?

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

Yes, your husband can execute a power of attorney provided he understands what he is executing and wishes to do so. He can make his mark on the document. The notary clause would reflect that your husband made his mark in the presence of a notary. An attorney can help you with the necessary language that must be inserted into the power of attorney. It is not in standard documents.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Can my step father hold me accountable for past mortgage payments if I wasn’t informed that I inherited land through intestacy?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My mother passed away 8 years ago… I was told she left me nothing. Last month my step father contacted me saying he needed me to sign some some papers for him. When I asked what they were for he told me it was my mothers estate, but assured me it wasn’t worth anything. It seemed weird to me so I had his attorney send me the paperwork and discovered I had received her half of their property through intestacy. He’s telling me that he owes me nothing for my half, and that I owe him for half of his mortgage payments and taxes for the past EIGHT years. Even though I had NO idea I even owned half of the property. His attorney tells me it was not my step fathers responsibility to inform me of the inherited property, and I can sign the papers or they will file for him to be executor of it all.

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

Who told you that you inherited nothing? Your step-father? Did he attempt to conceal your inheritance from you?
Joint owners of a property are jointly and severally liable for the debts on the property. They also have an equal right to use the property. Sure, he can attempt to collect half the money for the mortgage he paid. At the same time, you can force a sell of the property where he has been living or tell him you are moving in with him. You also have a right to be the executor and well as to object to his serving as one. I would suggest that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

Look into energy credits

The IRS reminds taxpayers that certain energy credits are still available. If you haven’t already taken advantage of them, this may be the year to make energy-efficient improvements to your home. You may be entitled to a credit of 10% of the cost of certain energy-saving improvements such as insulation, windows, doors, skylights, and roofs.

The credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500; the credit for windows is limited to $200. Not all energy improvements qualify, the IRS cautions taxpayers, so be sure you have the manufacturer’s credit certification statement (usually available with the product’s packaging or on the manufacturer’s website).

Can happy employees equal healthy profits?

It is said that living by the Golden Rule – treating others as you would like to be treated – pays dividends. Can this be true in a small business work environment too? Business owners are increasingly finding that treating employees well can boost profits.

Creating a contented workforce is simply a matter of maintaining your most precious business asset. This can benefit your company in three ways. First, it lowers employee turnover, which in turn lowers new-hire training expenses and flattens learning curves. Second, a well-treated employee is often a harder working employee, one who is more apt to put in the additional hours when needed. This extra effort can also help cement relationships with your customers as they discover that your employees will do whatever it takes to get the job done. And finally, gaining a reputation as a good place to work will naturally draw higher-quality job prospects. [Read more…]

Medicare taxes can be harmful to your financial health

Two new Medicare taxes will inflict pain on the wallets of many higher-earning taxpayers, especially those with significant investment income. Knowing how these taxes are calculated might be your best remedy.

Single wage earners will have to pay an additional 0.9% Medicare tax on any pay exceeding $200,000. This is on top of the 1.45% tax already owed under the previous rules. Joint filers will pay the extra 0.9% on combined wages exceeding $250,000.

Your employer is responsible for withholding the extra tax, but they probably won’t know how much your spouse earns. So if the salaries of you and your spouse individually are under $200,000 but combined are over $250,000, you will owe the tax when you file your return. This means quarterly estimated tax payments may be required. [Read more…]

IRS publishes 2014 HSA contribution limits

The IRS recently announced the inflation-adjusted contribution limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) for 2014. HSAs allow taxpayers with high-deductible health insurance plans to set aside pretax dollars that can be withdrawn tax-free to pay unreimbursed medical expenses. The 2014 contribution limit for individuals is $3,300; the limit for family coverage is $6,550. A catch-up contribution of an additional $1,000 is permitted for individuals who are 55 or older.