Tax Planning Strategies for Retirement

You’ve likely put aside money toward retirement to supplement social security and help ensure financial stability when you leave the workforce. Yet, have you thought about how your tax situation can impact your funds? To make the most of your retirement income stream, you’ll need a solid understanding of how all your assets work together and the tax implications of each.

How to Plan for Taxes in Retirement

Develop a successful retirement tax planning strategy by starting with the fundamentals.

Know Your Tax Bracket

Retirement savings generally fall into two categories — tax-deferred and after-tax. Under a tax-deferred account, such as a traditional IRA or employer-sponsored plan, you’ll pay taxes at your current bracket once you begin withdrawals. After-tax accounts, like Roth IRAs and regular savings, represent dollars you’ve already paid taxes on.

Younger workers may find themselves in lower brackets, like 10 or 12%, before transitioning into the 22 or 24% brackets as their earnings increase. High-wage earners can pay as much as 32 to 37% in taxes. 

Each of these scenarios calls for different retirement tax strategies, so it’s best to seek expert advice for your unique situation.

Diversify Your Account Types

For many, future tax brackets may differ from current ones, calling for diversifying among different account types for maximum withdrawal flexibility.

With a mix of pre- and post-tax assets, you and your tax advisor can create a plan with more control over your taxable income in retirement.

Know the Social Security Rules

While social security can provide an income stream as early as age 62, that may not be the best time for you to start collecting it. Opting for an earlier election can permanently reduce your expected monthly benefit. 

Social security benefits may be subject to taxation for those with significant income or plans to work after reaching full retirement age.

Marital status, such as divorce and widowhood, can also affect the ideal timing, so it’s best to consult with a financial professional for advice specific to your situation.

Use Your Retirement Assets Wisely

Under the current IRS rules, you must begin withdrawing traditional tax-deferred assets once you reach age 72. The amount you take — called your required minimum distribution (RMD) — changes each year and is a portion of the overall value of your IRA. 

Roth IRAs and Roth-based employer-sponsored plans have no RMDs, and withdrawals are tax-free once you meet the eligibility criteria.

Work with a retirement tax professional to develop a withdrawal strategy combining assets from both account types to help keep your income in the lower tax brackets.

Consider a Roth Conversion

With their tax-free withdrawals and no RMDs, Roth IRAs can be a powerful way to maximize savings and add diversity to a mostly pre-tax retirement portfolio. Many traditional IRA owners can convert all or a portion of their tax-deferred savings into a Roth account and pay taxes on the value at the same rate as ordinary income.

Consult with a tax-planning specialist to ensure a conversion doesn’t unexpectedly push you into a higher tax bracket.

Get Retirement Tax Advice You Can Trust

Marshall Jones has served tax planning and preparation needs in Atlanta for over 30 years, operating with a dedication to service, quality and integrity. We offer a full suite of services for individuals and companies across numerous industries.

Contact us online for more information or to request an appointment.

Retirement tax advice

A Day in the Life of a Marshall Jones Auditor

A Day in the Life of a Marshall Jones Auditor with Mallory Howard

A Day in the Life of a Marshall Jones Auditor

Auditors do essential work for businesses, non-profits and other organizations, helping them ensure their financial records are accurate and that they follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). It’s a rewarding job, but you may want to know more about what an auditor does during the average workday. We asked Mallory Howard, one of our senior auditors, to tell us about her typical day at Marshall Jones.

Making a Plan for the Day

Auditors are committed to staying on top of the work they’re doing for clients. Mallory usually starts her day by looking at her calendar and preparing for any meetings she has coming up. She also creates a record of what she worked on the previous day and how much time she spent on every project. This process allows the firm to keep track of the work she does for each client.

Mallory also likes to check her email early in the morning — keeping her inbox empty helps her stay on track and ensure her email is organized. When an email includes a new assignment or requires some time to write a response, Mallory will schedule blocks of time on her calendar for taking care of this new work. Time blocking helps her ensure everything she wants to accomplish that day is included in her daily schedule and she can move the email out of her inbox.

Working on Behalf of Our Clients

After she sets her plan for the day, Mallory turns her attention to her top priorities for assisting Marshall Jones’ clients. These tasks typically include fieldwork, which is an essential part of the audit process. During fieldwork, Mallory and her colleagues gather and analyze documents and other information from the organization they’re auditing. With these details, Mallory makes sure everything is running smoothly and that the organization’s financial statements are accurate and consistent.

Drafting those financial statements is another important of Mallory’s day. Financial statements are records that provide a full picture of an organization’s assets and money — what it owns, how much it earns and how much it spends. High-quality financial statements allow an organization to understand its operations better and make improvements. They also give investors, government authorities and others access to reliable information about the organization.

Throughout the day, Mallory may also communicate with the firm’s clients and with colleagues who are working with her on particular audits. When she’s not working from home, she also enjoys chatting and catching up with her colleagues.

At the end of the day, Mallory makes sure to wrap up any urgent or time-sensitive tasks and begins creating her schedule for the next work day.

Learn More About a Career in Auditing

The fulfillment and enjoyment we find in our work is a key part of how Marshall Jones has become one of Atlanta’s top CPA firms. If you’re considering becoming an auditor, contact our team today to learn more about the profession and your opportunities with our firm.

Bookkeeping Basics for Small Businesses

Bookkeeping Basics for Small Businesses

Business bookkeeping basics are essential to a small business’s success in maintaining compliance and monitoring milestones. The tax professionals at Marshall Jones have put together this quick-start guide for small business bookkeeping to help you begin.

5 Bookkeeping Tips for Small Business Owners 

Five key bookkeeping tips recommended by senior tax professionals can help your small business stay on track this year. 

1. Open a Business Bank Account

It’s vital to have a distinct bank account and credit card for your business so that you have clear records when filing your taxes. Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll need separate tax reports for home and business. Also, if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decides to audit your business, having mixed personal and business accounts can complicate the process further.

2. Expedite Your Accounts Payable Process

Bill.com is a legitimate and secure accounts payable and accounts receivable software that integrates with QuickBooks. It helps businesses integrate automated digital tools into their bill and invoice processes. It simplifies the process by making it easy to record bills and pay vendors via the Automated Clearing House (ACH), credit card, check and even international wire transfer. 

3. Digitally Track Expenses

Managing multiple employees with company credit cards can become complex if receipts become lost, faded or damaged. Divvy is an online expense management and business budgeting software ideal for allotting spending money to your team. For example, an employee booking a hotel room for a business trip can receive the exact amount of cash they need with no more and no less. The employee simply snaps a photo of their receipt for digital recordkeeping. 

4. Use Your Financials to Make Strategic Business Decisions 

It’s key to take advantage of your financial records beyond tax time. Business owners should be familiar with a profit and loss statement to analyze their spending and costs, whether that’s year over year, month to month or even biweekly. It’s also helpful to learn financial analysis ratios like the receivable turnover, current, return on assets and debt to equity ratios — and much more. 

5. Be Proactive About Your 1099 Tax Documents

A 1099 form is a tax document business owners use to report payments over $600 in a given year to independent contractors. The best policy is to take a proactive approach to prepare for 1099 forms by issuing a W9 to each vendor at the time of the transaction. Then, you’ll have their tax identification number and address on file to report on the 1099 form during tax season. 

Get Professional Help With Small Business Bookkeeping Basics

Marshall Jones has been helping small businesses like yours with accounting and bookkeeping services in Atlanta for decades. To find out more about how we can help you with small business bookkeeping, contact us online and schedule an appointment today. 

hinking financial advisor businessman working in office.

When Should You Hire an Accountant?

When Should You Hire an Accountant

Every small business should know when to hire an accountant. In general, it’s advisable to meet and build a relationship with a certified public accountant (CPA) at least once to cover the basics of your business. There are also specific reasons why you should hire an accountant, such as when you need to make critical business decisions and handle key tax documents that will face government scrutiny. The experts here at Marshall Jones have created this guide to help you learn the ins and outs of when you should hire an accountant.

Commonly Outsourced Business Functions

The goal of partnering with a CPA is to have a professional in your corner who cares about your business and is sensitive to your needs. The accountant should understand how to meet you where you are currently and help you achieve your future goals.

A CPA can help you with many practical business and tax tasks, including: 

  • Advisory services: If you need to make a significant accounting or business decision, you can hire a CPA to review your strategy with you and consult on potential advantages and pitfalls. 
  • Audit and assurance: An accountant can help you audit your books and ensure you’re meeting regulatory compliance requirements for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), your state, lending agencies and more. Accountants can also properly prepare income tax returns, financial statements and sales tax returns. 
  • Entity and tax structure: If you need to discuss your tax structure to maximize value for your entity, a CPA can help. 
  • Mergers and acquisitions: Mergers and acquisitions have complex regulations to manage when considering debts and taxes you will acquire in the process. An accounting professional can help you anticipate these expenses. 
  • Outsourced accounting: Outsourced accounting allows you to farm out your internal bookkeeping, recordkeeping and accounting tasks to a CPA firm. Teams can perform your functions on-site with your employees or off-site to meet all your accounting needs. 
  • Accounting information systems: Many firms use accounting information systems to redesign your accounting processes for optimal performance. They can even handle all the accounting functions for your business on your behalf. 

Hire an Accountant for Your Small Business Today

For more than three decades, Marshall Jones has served the Atlanta business community with integrity and excellence through CPA accounting and audit services. Our capabilities include outsourced professional accounting solutions, audit and assurance, tax planning and preparation and professional bookkeeping and consulting. 

Ready to find out more? Reach out to our team online and schedule your appointment today to get started. 

Understanding Audit Reports

Reading through an auditor’s report may seem daunting, but you can take the stress out of the process by familiarizing yourself with how these reports are structured and the purpose of each section. Once you know how to read an audit report, you can accept the document handed to you at the end of your next audit and read it with confidence.

The Scope of the Audit

The first section of an audit report summarizes the audit’s scope — in other words, what the auditors did and how they did it. This section will state that the auditor examined the company’s financial statements in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS). These standards include well-trained, careful and independent auditors conducting audits. 

The section on the scope of the audit will confirm that the auditors assessed:

  • The company’s documentation of its finances: These documents include, for example, the company’s balance sheets and statements detailing its earnings and cash flows.
  • The company’s underlying financial situation: Auditors will conduct tests to confirm that the information in the company’s documents is consistent with its actual performance.
  • The internal controls the company uses: These internal controls describe the measures the company takes to ensure the accuracy and integrity of its financial information.

The scope of the audit section should give you confidence that the auditors have conducted a careful and thorough investigation. That credibility means you can rely upon the second section of the report — the auditor’s opinion.

The Auditor’s Opinion

The second section of the audit report is the auditor’s opinion, which summarizes their findings based on their examination of the company and its records. There are three generally accepted opinions:

  • An unqualified opinion: An auditor will issue an unqualified — or “clean” — opinion when the company’s management provides all the relevant documents and information and the audit reveals that the company’s financial statements are accurate. An unqualified opinion will not contain any adverse comments or disclaimers about the limits of the audit.
  • A qualified opinion: An auditor will issue a qualified opinion when they are unable to gather necessary evidence or support for one or two areas of the audit. For example, if a company has significant inventory and the auditors were unable to perform an observation to confirm that the actual physical inventory matches the company’s documentation, they would issue a qualified opinion.
  • An adverse opinion: An auditor will issue an adverse opinion when a company’s financial statements are not presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAPs). GAAPs are the accounting standards that companies use to measure and present their financial results. An adverse opinion means that the company’s financial documentation is incomplete or inaccurate. This result doesn’t mean the company is deliberately doing something wrong — in many cases, the auditor can work with the company to correct these problems.

Contact Us Today for Audit Services

Marshall Jones has provided accounting and bookkeeping services to companies in the Atlanta area for decades. To learn more about how we can help your business with its next audit, contact us and schedule an appointment.

How Do You Become an Entry-Level Auditor?

An entry-level internal auditor helps organizations maintain compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Auditors that work in a payroll capacity perform roles such as examining employees’ pay rates and tax withholdings to verify accuracy. 

Payroll auditors perform a crucial task, catching mistakes and red flags that could lead to lost revenues and potential IRS-imposed penalties. They can even uncover fraudulent financial activities conducted by other members of the organization. 

How to Become an Entry-Level Auditor

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an entry-level payroll auditor, you’ll need to complete a series of steps to gain employment.

Fulfill the Education Requirements

While many entry-level auditing positions come with on-the-job training, few companies will hire individuals without the appropriate educational background. You’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting to demonstrate that you have the fundamental knowledge to perform the necessary job tasks.

Complete an Internship

When evaluating academic institutions to earn your degree, consider schools that offer accounting and auditing internship programs. Completing an internship provides the real-world training and work experience prospective employers covet. You’ll gain a competitive edge over other job candidates, increasing your chances of landing a position. Some internships even come with compensation, enabling you to earn while you learn.

Begin Your Job Search

Once you’ve earned your degree — and completed an internship, if possible — you’re ready to start searching for available entry-level auditor jobs. In addition to meeting the education requirements, employers look for candidates possessing the following attributes:

  • Professional
  • Responsible
  • Mature
  • Understanding
  • Encouraging
  • Self-motivated

You should have strong communication skills and be willing to work as part of a team. You’ll also need to demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning to meet the evolving demands of the auditor position.

It can be helpful to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment to determine your proficiency in these areas. Then, you can develop a plan to address any weaknesses to enhance your job search preparation.

Explore the Entry-Level Auditor Jobs at Marshall Jones

The Certified Public Accountants and Advisors at Marshall Hones have provided high-quality accounting and auditing services to individuals and businesses in the Atlanta area for more than 30 years. We strive to deliver exceptional client service with the highest technical competencies and complete integrity.

We encourage you to meet our team and learn more about our exciting entry-level payroll auditor opportunities or contact us if you’re interested in applying

A project management team working

What Are the Principles of Auditing?

Every organization must ensure that its financial statements are correct and comply with all applicable federal and state regulations. Auditing is the process of reviewing these records and information to verify their accuracy. An audit can also serve as an internal control mechanism for detecting red flags that may indicate the existence of fraudulent financial activities.

Understanding the Principles of Auditing

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a national professional organization that establishes the auditing and ethical standards in the United States. The AICPA has developed a set of audit principles to guide auditors as they perform their duties:

  • Training: All auditors must have the appropriate training to plan and execute the various audit types across all industries.
  • Independence: Auditors must have no financial, relational or operational ties to whatever institution they’re auditing to avoid potential conflicts of interest, bias and approval without evidence.
  • Due care: An auditor should possess the same level of skills and competence as their peers within the same industry and employment.
  • Planning and supervision: Auditors must be involved in planning and supervising their work to provide an accurate, informed opinion of their findings.
  • Understanding: Auditors must possess or gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry, the organization and its internal control processes to properly plan audit procedures for appropriate risks.
  • Evidence: An auditor typically should ask for appropriate proof or documentation that supports the line item entries listed in the financial statements.
  • Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) compliance: The auditor must verify that the organization is presenting its financial statements in accordance with the industry’s generally accepted accounting principles.
  • GAAP exceptions: The audit report must identify instances where GAAP compliance does not exist.
  • Disclosures: Auditors must verify that any information disclosed about the financial statement line items is adequate.
  • Opinion: Auditors must provide an opinion based on their findings during the audit process. If they choose not to state an opinion, they must give their reasons for doing so.

Learn More About the Audit Principles

At Marshall Jones, our team of experienced Certified Public Accountants and Advisors has followed our audit principles for more than 30 years. We assist businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals throughout the Atlanta area to ensure the accuracy of their financial statements and helping them avoid potentially costly mistakes. 

Contact us for more information and learn more about the principles of auditing today.

How to Save Time in Accounting Through Outsourcing

If you’ve taken the plunge and started your own business, you’ve likely run into the same obstacle as other small- and mid-sized companies — accounting.

Accounting plays a critical role in your company’s operation because it tracks expenditures and income while ensuring compliance. For smaller companies with limited resources, staying on top of these requirements can often be challenging. Thankfully, professional accounting firms such as Marshall Jones are standing by to help. 
By outsourcing some or all of your accounting responsibilities, you can focus on the core duties of growing your business and less on tedious financial tasks.  

At Marshall Jones, we can help you eliminate the stress and hassle associated with daily accounting chores. We’ll provide the exact level of service you need, whether you’re looking for a full-service solution, increased capacity or occasional help during tax season. Our goal is to deliver world-class services to our clients with integrity and superior technical competency. 

What Are Outsourced Accounting and Bookkeeping Services?

Outsourced accounting services provide a business without a dedicated accounting staff with a full lineup of services, including accounts receivable and payable, taxes, transaction coding, employee payroll, financial reporting and more. An effective team will work with you to identify your business’s key drivers, determine the areas you need assistance and provide insight for improvement. Whether you’re looking to outsource your accounting duties, bolster your existing staff or discover a better approach, a qualified outsourced accounting firm can help.

Benefits of Partnering With a Reliable Outsourced Accounting Firm

Without a dedicated accounting team, many financial tasks fall on the shoulders of employees who have other jobs to do. When you hire a team of certified public accountants and advisors like Marshall Jones, you get the specialized knowledge your company needs. When you choose us, you eliminate all the guesswork and distractions of multitasking and juggling various responsibilities.

Additional advantages of working with an experienced outsourced accounting service include:

  • Time savings: By allowing your employees to handle their essential tasks and leaving the accounting to us, you save time and money and increase efficiency.
  • Accuracy: Our team has the experience to ensure all your financials are accurate, and a dedicated, expert accountant is more likely to notice an error or abnormality than a single person wearing many other hats.
  • Superior expertise: We employ highly trained certified public accountants and advisors who know the most modern business trends, use the most innovative tools and understand the latest tax laws.  

Contact Marshall Jones for Your Outsourced Accounting Needs Today

The certified public accountants and advisors at Marshall Jones have delivered the most superior financial services to the Metro Atlanta area for decades. We are committed to providing top-tier service at a reasonable rate, setting your business up for success. Contact us today to learn more.

Which 990 Is Right for My Organization?

Knowing which of the four 990 forms apply to your organization is important when you’re filing taxes. In this guide, we will break down which organizations file each 990 form to help you determine which option best suits your needs.

Types of 990 Forms

Almost all tax-exempt organizations will need to file an annual return, but the form you use depends on your financial activity. In total, there are four types of 990 forms:

  • 990-N
  • 990-EZ
  • 990
  • 990-PF

To determine which form you need to file, you need to understand the basics of each one and the types of organizations that file them.

990-N Form

If your organization has less than or equal to $50,000 in gross receipts, you will file the 990-N form. Your gross receipts are the total amounts of income you received from all sources throughout your accounting period. You will not subtract any costs or expenses from this number. 

Form 990-N is an entirely electronic form with no paper counterparts.

990-EZ

You will file Form 990-EZ if these conditions apply:

  • Your organization has less than $200,000 in gross receipts.
  • Your business’ total assets are less than $500,000.

Tax-exempt organizations, section 527 political organizations and nonexempt charitable trusts often file 990-EZ.

You may also be able to file a standard 990 form in this instance, so it is beneficial to check all requirements for 990-EZ.

990

If your organization has gross receipts equal to or greater than $200,000 and total assets equal to or greater than $500,000, you will file Form 990.

Certain organizations are exempt from filing Form 990, even if they meet these requirements. These include:

  • Churches
  • Religious organizations
  • Political organizations

Your Form 990 will disclose revenue, expenses, liabilities and assets. You’ll also have to describe the mission and activities of your organization.

990-PF

Regardless of its financial status, any private organization will need to file a 990-PF form. This form will include information about your private foundation’s:

  • Financial activities
  • Assets
  • Rewarded grants
  • Trustees and officers

Contact Marshall Jones for Tax Planning and Preparation Services

While you may understand these basics about 990 forms, it’s crucial to know there will always be exceptions. Consulting with a certified public accountant (CPA) will help you ensure that your organization meets annual reporting requirements.

We have been serving Atlanta organizations for over 30 years with integrity and professionalism. Our tax planning and preparation services will help you save time and money, and our certified public accountants and advisors have exceptional availability.

We offer tax services for any organization, and we specialize in nonprofit tax forms. Our accountants stay informed about changing tax laws to ensure you are always up to date and compliant.

If you need tax planning and preparation services in Atlanta, please contact the Marshall Jones team today to schedule an appointment.

01-How-to-Prepare-for-an-Audit-in-Three-Easy-Steps

How to Prepare for an Audit in Three Easy Steps

You know you need an audit — but do you know how to prepare for it? From determining which type of audit you need to choosing the right firm, you need to follow specific steps to ensure you reach your goals.

1. Determine the Audit You Need

You will first need to decide what type of audit is necessary for your business. For example, a construction company would likely need a bonding or licensing audit. 

Consider whether you need a balance sheet audit or a full audit. Single audits are another option, especially if your organization is a nonprofit receiving government funding.

2. Choose a Certified Public Account (CPA) Firm

Now that you know what type of audit your company requires, you should research CPA firms. It’s critical to find a reliable and trustworthy option to ensure you are getting the correct service from trusted professionals.

In many cases, you can find a firm specializing in your industry, increasing the CPA’s likelihood of conducting a dependable audit.

3. Start Preparing for a Financial Statement Audit

The last step is to prepare for the audit. Communication is crucial, especially for loan covenant or federal spending requirement compliance. Make sure you know the best way to communicate with your CPA firm. That way, you can convey important information, such as when your audit’s deadline is, to ensure the firm conducts it correctly.

It’s also essential to start gathering important documents and plan for the time it takes to work with your auditor. That way, it’s easier and faster for them to complete your audit because you are ready to assist as necessary.

Contact Marshall Jones Today for Audit and Assurance Services

If you follow these three steps, your audit will run smoothly without requiring extra effort. When you need to choose a reliable firm for an audit at your business, come to Marshall Jones. 

Our audit and assurance services help gather financial records and show your management team the next steps. Whether you are trying to maintain or grow your company, our team helps you with audit and assurance services to satisfy government authorities and other entities that require them.

We use a risk-based audit approach, provide valuable recommendations and report our findings to the necessary parties. We have over 30 years of experience, and our services help you save by not requiring you to hire an in-house CPA.

Please contact the Marshall Jones team today for audit and assurance services!