Georgia Gives Back to Adoptive Families

If you are involved in the foster care system, an adoption ministry, a home open to adoption, or are interested in adoption, Governor Kemp recently signed a bill that will bring tax relief and encourage families to adopt children from the foster care program.

Currently, in Georgia, there are around 12,000 children in the foster care system

House Bill 114 was signed by Governor Kemp on March 22, 2021, which revises the amount of the tax credit Georgia gives to parents who have adopted children from the foster care system.  This revision changes the credit from $2,000 to $6,000 per qualifying child, and gives that credit each year for 6 years after the adoption is finalized. After the 6 years, the credit drops back down to $2,000 per year, until the qualifying child is 18.

This credit will apply to your tax liability. Your tax liability is calculated during tax preparation, and then this credit will apply to how much you owe, but it will not reduce it below zero, which means the credit is not refundable.  Any unused portion of the credit will not be able to apply to future or past years, which means it is only applicable in the year claiming the credit.

This credit became effective for adoptions that have finalized after January 1, 2021.

Spend more time focusing on what matters

You Can Still Save on Your 2020 Taxes

When a new year begins, it’s generally not acceptable to make any changes to your 2020 tax situation since your income and deductions are based on the cash receipts and payments that end of the previous year.

But there are still a few things that can be done to lower your 2020 taxes.

Certain payments and related deductions can be made all the way until October 15, 2021, the last date for filing your 2020 tax return under the tax extension. The IRS has extended the deadline to May 17, 2021 however (at this time) if you owe you are still required to pay by April 15, 2021. This affects the deadline to which you can make a traditional IRA payment deductible on your 2020 return.

1.Make a Payment to a Traditional IRA.

Whether or not the deadline is April 15 or October, an IRA contribution gives you a tax deduction while increasing your retirement investments. IRA contributions can reduce your adjusted gross income for the previous year by a dollar-for-dollar amount.

2.Contribute to a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k).

With a Simplified Employee Pension IRA, (SEP IRA), the tax-deductible contribution for 2020 can be made up to $57,000. These retirement accounts can both be set up and contributed to up until September 15 or October 15, 2021, depending on the type of entity you have.

3.Health Savings Account.

Many individuals are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). In order to pay for all of the medical bill costs that are below the deductible amount, a health savings account may be the answer. Funds contributed to such an account are tax deductible. And when funds are removed to pay for medical expenses below the HDHP deductible amount, the funds are not taxable. If the funds are not used up in a given year, they roll over to subsequent years and accumulate. Deductible contributions must be made by the initial filing deadline each year.

4.Eliminate Tax Penalties.

Although the deadline for filing tax returns is May 17, 2021 all taxes owed are to be paid by April 15, 2021 even though the tax return has been extended. For those who received unemployment benefits, there are portions that may still be taxable depending on your adjusted gross income and the amount that you received.

Contact the Tax Professionals at Marshall Jones

You can contact Marshall Jones to set up an appointment to review your tax needs.

Tax Season 2021: What You Need to Know About Your 2020 Tax Return

Tax Season 2021: What You Need to Know About Your 2020 Tax Return

You’re probably sick of even thinking about the year 2020. But, unfortunately, you probably still have the preparation of your 2020 tax return to take care of.

A lot has changed for the 2021 tax season. 

1.The COVID-19 Virus and Your Taxes

The COVID situation in 2020 extended the due date for individual tax return filings. However, in 2021 the deadline has reverted back to April 15, 2021. If you are not able to get your tax return filed by that date, you may request an extension all the way to October 15, 2021, but you must pay any taxes you estimate you will owe with your extension request which must be filed by April 15.

What Effect Does the Coronavirus Have on Your Taxes?

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you will receive a refundable tax credit up to $1,200 in the form of a refundable tax credit to reduce your taxes owing. The $1,200 credit is not taxable.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans

The CARES ACT in an effort to assist struggling small businesses created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The proceeds from the loans must be used to pay certain business expenses—payroll, rent, or interest on mortgage payments, and utilities. And as long as the business meets these qualifications, the loan can be forgiven. The loan forgiveness is not included in taxable income, and the expenses are deductible.

For those who were laid off from their jobs during the pandemic, many received unemployment benefits. Those benefits are taxable and those who choose not to have taxes withheld from these benefits will have to do so on their tax return.

2.Tax Rates and Brackets for the 2020 Tax Season

Tax rates and brackets – The percentage of your income that is taxed is based on the tax bracket you are in. Here are the brackets and rates for 2021

2020 Marginal Income Tax Rates and Brackets

2020 Marginal Tax Rates Single Tax Bracket Married Filing Jointly Tax Bracket Head of Household Tax Bracket Married Filing Separately Tax Bracket
10% $0–9,875 $0–19,750 $0–14,100 $0–9,875
12% $9,875–40,125 $19,750–80,250 $14,100–53,700 $9,875–40,125
22% $40,125–85,525 $80,250–171,050 $53,700–85,500 $40,125–85,525
24% $85,525–163,300 $171,050–326,600 $85,500–163,300 $85,525–163,300
32% $163,300–207,350 $326,600–414,700 $163,300–207,350 $163,300–207,350
35% $207,350–518,400 $414,700–622,050 $207,350–518,400 $207,350–311,025
37% Over $518,400 Over $622,050 Over $518,400 Over $311,025

3.A Slight Increase in the Standard Deduction for 2020

The standard deduction is an alternative to itemized deductions. Itemized deductions are things like mortgage interest, taxes, medical expenses, and charitable contributions. What you do is to total those deductions and compare them to your standard deduction. The larger of the two is deductible from your Adjusted Gross Income to arrive at your taxable income.

For the tax year 2020, the standard deduction went up slightly to adjust for inflation.

Filing Status 2019 2020
Single $12,200 $12,400
Married Filing Jointly $24,400 $24,800
Married Filing Separately $12,200 $12,400
Head of Household $18,350 $18,650

4.Itemized Deductions

As indicated above, you may “itemize” your deductions if they exceed the standard deduction. Here is a list of itemized deductions:

Interest Expense

The types of interest expenses that are eligible are mortgage interest for both your primary residence, which includes both your first and second mortgages. Mortgage interest for investment properties. Interest on some business loans including business credit card interest. Student loan interest. Personal credit card interest, auto loan interest and other types of personal consumer finance interest are not deductible. 

Taxes

There are four types of taxes you can deduct :

  1. State, local, and foreign income taxes
  2. Real estate taxes
  3. Ad valorem taxes on personal property 
  4. State and local sales taxes

Note that these taxes in the aggregate are allowable only up to $10,000.

Charitable Deductions

The CARES Act allows you to deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is your total income minus other deductions you have already taken, in qualified charitable donations if you plan to itemize their deductions. Previously charitable deductions were limited in certain circumstances.

Medical Expenses

You can deduct medical expenses, subject to limitations. You can deduct medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Your AGI is the total of your income less adjustments for things like an IRA contribution. If your medical expenses do exceed 7.5 % of AGI, they must be included in your itemized deductions which may or may not exceed the standard deduction explained above.

Business Deductions

If you are self-employed are many deductions you can claim on your tax return—including travel expenses and the home office deduction if you use a part of your home to conduct business.

5.Credits

tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. If, for instance, your tax liability is computed to be $2,500, and you can qualify for a $1,000 tax credit, the credit can be used to reduce the amount you owe. In this case, your net amount owing to the IRS would be 1,500. 

While there are several tax credits in tax law, the most commonly used credits for individuals are:

The Earned income tax credit (EITC)

This credit is for low- and middle-income workers. If you earn less than $56,844 in 2020, you may be eligible for the credit. The amount of the credit is based on your earnings, filing status and number of children. The maximum credit for 2020 is 6,660.

The Child care tax credit

Families with kids can claim up to $2,000 per qualified child for married taxpayers with taxable income less than $400,000, and $200,000 for single parents.

6.Educational Expenses: 529 Plans and ESAs 

Many folks had to pull money from the 529 plan or Educational Savings Account (ESA)  during the pandemic. In order to avoid taxes on these withdrawals, the money must have been used for qualified educational expenses. However, a lot of colleges and schools that went remote or canceled classes this year, may have refunded some or all of the expenses you paid for using 529 or ESA withdrawals. In that instance, you have 60 days to return these funds to those accounts or be subject to them being taxable with an accompanying penalty for early withdrawal.

7.Retirement Plans: 401(k)s, IRAs and More

  • Prior to the CARES Act individuals were not allowed to withdraw funds from their 401 (k)s and IRAs, without penalty, until reaching age 59 ½. The CARES Act eliminated this penalty for such withdrawals up until the end of 2020. Note however that any such withdrawals are taxable.
  • If you have a traditional IRA, tax laws require you to begin making withdrawals once you reach the age of 70 ½. These withdrawals are called “required minimum distributions” (RMDs). The SECURE ACT pushed back the age for RMDs from traditional IRAs from 70 ½ to 72. In addition, the CARES Act allows seniors to skip RMDs altogether in 2020 without penalty.
  • The SECURE Act allows owners of traditional IRAs to keep putting money in their accounts past age 70 ½ starting in 2020. And these contributions are tax-deductible.
  • Finally, if you did take money out of a 401 (K) or traditional IRA in 2020, you will owe additional taxes on those withdrawals. If, however, you are able to put those funds back into those retirement accounts within three years, you can receive a refund of the additional taxes you had to pay.

Contact the Tax Professionals at Marshall Jones

Are you tired of trying to keep up with the ever-changing tax laws? You can contact Marshall Jones to set up an appointment to review your needs.

Accounting for Law Firms

Accounting for Law Firms

Accounting firms help many individuals and companies make financial decisions. No matter what kind of business you run, an accounting firm can offer advice and assistance to help your company set financial goals and develop budgets. 

If your law firm seeks dependable financial advice or wants someone to handle your weekly payroll, an accounting firm may be the right choice for your organization. To help you make your choice, we have developed a list of tips for choosing the best accounting firm for your law firm.

Tips for Choosing the Right Accountant for Your Law Firm

Are you wondering how to choose an accounting firm? Your law firm can greatly benefit from hiring an accounting firm, but first, you need to know where to start your selection process. Follow the tips below for guidance in choosing the right legal accounting for your law firm.

1. Review the Company’s Industry Experience

How long has the company been working in the industry? Accountants generally specialize in certain industries to offer clients improved, personalized service. For example, a retail accountant may not be the best choice for a client in the agricultural industry. Ensure that the accounting firm you choose has experience working with law firms. 

At Marshall Jones, we have more than 30 years of experience providing professional accounting services to various clients, including law firms, consulting agencies, marketing firms, ad agencies, construction companies and non-profits. We also offer tax planning and preparation for law firms.

2. Consider How Much Control the Firm Has

What level of service does the accounting firm offer? How much control over your bookkeeping do you want to keep or relinquish? If you want comprehensive bookkeeping services, ensure that you find a full-service accounting firm. These firms employ bookkeepers who handle the everyday client transactions. Accounting firms that do not employ bookkeepers may charge more if you need a CPA to handle your routine bookkeeping tasks.

3. Determine Whether the Firm Provides Audit Support

When dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it can be reassuring to know your trusted accountant is at your side. An IRS audit can happen to any business or individual, but facing one can be an incredibly stressful situation. An audit is a review of your firm’s financial data, and our audit and assurance services at Marshall Jones will ensure your financial data is accurate.

With some accounting firms, you may be able to use their offices for audit purposes. An accountant will also be present to represent your interests. At Marshall Jones, we can offer your firm feedback for improvement, drive growth, reduce expenses and identify potential new ways to increase your firm’s profitability. 

4. Determine How the Firm’s Payments Work 

Fees vary from one accounting firm to another. Some accountants charge by the minute, and each phone call between you and your accountant can raise your bill. Other accountants charge a predetermined rate for every financial task performed, like preparing profit and loss statements, filing income tax forms or compiling net worth statements. 

5. Ask Fellow Law Firms If They Have Worked With the Company

Finally, ask for references from other law firms. When it comes to receiving references for accounting firms to partner with, nothing beats word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth is just as valuable today as it has ever been. Speak with business associates and friends to learn which accounting firms they use and whether they would recommend those firms to other law firms. 

Why Is Accounting So Important for Law Firms?

Law firm accounting professionals can help your law firm operate more efficiently. An accounting firm can help your attorneys and managing partners get a better grasp on your business, affecting your cash flow, client profitability, staff efficiency, attorney compensation and compliance with your state’s bar association about how you manage your funds. 

The role of a professional legal accountant includes the collection, interpretation and use of financial data to help your law firm grow and stay compliant. An accounting firm can handle:

  • Completing payroll
  • Recording expenses
  • Completing tax returns
  • Managing financial data
  • Accounting for case costs 
  • Distinguishing between income and revenue

An accounting firm can help you systemize workflows in your law firm, such as tracking billable hours versus non-billed hours. You may also want to consider fixed fees versus hourly fees, as this can create flexibility for your clients and help your attorneys determine the best way to bill clients for affordability and profitability. 

Additionally, an accounting firm can help you select the right accounting method for your law firm. 

  • Cash accounting: You may want to choose cash accounting if you want simplicity. With cash accounting, you can easily determine when transactions have occurred, and there is no need to track payables or receivables. 
  • Accrual accounting: The other accounting method you can choose is accrual accounting. You may want to choose accrual accounting if you want a more realistic idea of your expenses and income during a certain period. This form of accounting records expenses and revenues when they are incurred and earned.

Outsource Your Accounting to Marshall Jones

Outsourcing to an accounting firm like Marshall Jones will give your law firm the amount of control over your finances that you desire and take away the hassle of having to do it all yourself so you can spend time working billable hours instead of doing non-billable administrative tasks. For more than three decades, our certified public accountants and advisors at Marshall Jones have been serving the individuals and businesses in Atlanta. We provide exceptional client service with complete integrity and the highest levels of technical competencies. At Marshall Jones, we will:

  • Provide your firm with a customized experience: We will strive to learn as much as we can about your company and its business goals, which allows us to offer the services you need, like tax-minimizing suggestions and strategic planning. Our flexible strategy ensures that we can deliver the level of service you need, whether that is seasonal help or full-time bookkeeping. 
  • Save your law firm time and money: Our team will handle the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping, allowing you to focus your time and efforts on running your business. When you work with us, you will not need to recruit, hire, train or onboard an in-house bookkeeping professional.  
  • Allow you to retain control of your firm’s bookkeeping: With Marshall Jones, you can retain the level of control you want when it comes to your firm’s bookkeeping. Whether you want to receive regular reports or leave the details to us, we can accommodate your wishes for control over your bookkeeping. 

Contact us today to outsource your accounting to Marshall Jones or to learn more about the outsourced accounting services we offer.

Sources

  1. https://marshalljones.com/industries/professional-service-organizations/
  2. https://marshalljones.com/services/audit-assurance/
  3. https://marshalljones.com/contact-us/
  4. https://marshalljones.com/services/outsourced-accounting-services/

Accounting Tips for Non-Profit Organizations

Why does an industry whose organizations operate on often tight budgets seem to have the most complex accounting and reporting requirements?  It really seems unfair.  I’ve worked with many nonprofits of different sizes, many of which simply don’t have the extra funds to throw at an accounting department, and because of this, having a good, clean, easy to understand set of books can be a continuous struggle.

One reason for this struggle is the need to see information pivoted in many different ways; grant activity reports, cash basis budget reports, accrual based audited financials, cash flow projections, donor restricted net asset reporting, and so on.

So how can a budget sensitive nonprofit keep their accounting costs down while still being able to get the reporting they need?  Consider the following tips.

1. Don’t overthink your accounting software.

Just because nonprofit accounting is complex doesn’t mean your accounting system has to be.  There is a lot of software, a lot of it very good, that specializes in nonprofit accounting.  The problem is that a lot of the systems are not user friendly, take additional training, and don’t integrate with other third-party applications that might make running your organization more efficient.  All of these factors have real and hidden costs.  Choosing a cost effective, less specialized accounting software such as QuickBooks is a perfectly good option that integrates well with other desirable low-cost specialized nonprofit software, like donor platforms.  A bonus is that QuickBooks is very common and it is easy to find cost effective training or bookkeepers with QuickBooks experience.

2. Don’t put too much burden on your chart of accounts

When you have a lot of different programs, grants, and restrictions to track, it is tempting to just keep adding accounts to your chart of accounts.  Resist this temptation!  This rarely makes accounting easier and often leads to errors and just more confusion.  Keep your chart of accounts simple, and use subledgers or ‘horizontal’ accounting structures such as classes in QuickBooks to let your chart of accounts work smarter and not harder.

3. Leave the accrual accounting for the auditors

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t understand accrual-based accounting or not attempt to make year-end entries to make your audit go more smoothly, but cash basis accounting is efficient and perfectly viable to use over the course of the year.  Don’t unnecessarily complicate things by trying to achieve GAAP based monthly financial closings if it isn’t required.  Another plus is that cash basis bookkeeping usually aligns with a nonprofit organization’s cash-basis budget.

4. Know how to read your financial statements

 As an executive director, you don’t have to be the accounting expert of your organization, but knowing how to read your financial statements goes a long way to identifying accounting errors and keeping things on track.  Having an executive director that is engaged with the financial statements provides valuable oversight and support for a lean nonprofit accounting team.

Contact Marshall Jones in Atlanta GA, for Your Non-Profit Accounting Needs

Ultimately, overcoming the accounting hurdles for your nonprofit can be difficult, and if these tips aren’t enough to get you on track, know that Marshall Jones is always here to help.

Accountant discussing financials with an E-commerce Business owner

Bookkeeping Tips for Your E-Commerce Business

Bookkeeping is an essential component of an e-commerce business. With an online store, your business’ products will be available 24/7/365 to a wide array of customers. With the internet, you can cast a wide net, reaching a large audience and fulfilling drop-ship orders while you maintain a small physical footprint. 

While setting up a website and store are critical steps, your store won’t gain traction if you don’t engage in financial planning. At Marshall Jones, we have compiled tips for bookkeeping to ensure your e-commerce business’ success. 

Essential Considerations for E-Commerce Bookkeeping

E-commerce bookkeeping can present challenges for business owners. When you understand how these challenges can affect your e-commerce bookkeeping, you can select the best solution for your business. 

1. How to Account for Alternative Payment Methods

While most of your customers will make their payments via credit cards, you may also decide to accept other payment types. If you go this route, you may want to equip your e-commerce platform to track these sales. Along with credit cards, payment types may include checks, cash and gift cards, especially if you sell in person, too.

Though this can make purchasing more convenient for your customers, accepting alternative payment forms may make your bookkeeping more complicated. Payments made via check or cash, for example, won’t appear in your books until you deposit this money in your account.  

2. How to Document Merchant Fees

When you choose an e-commerce platform to host your online store, you will likely need to pay merchant fees. Using one of these platforms for your e-commerce business can offer benefits from a quick startup to simple search optimization. However, in exchange for these perks, the platform will take a cut of each of your sales. 

That can complicate your bookkeeping, as deposits in your bank account will be net sales rather than gross sales. In your e-commerce bookkeeping, note the gross sale, then record the difference between the gross and the net to document your merchant fees. 

3.  How to Track Inventory Across Platforms

Another challenge you may face in e-commerce bookkeeping is tracking your inventory across platforms. Many e-commerce services offer built-in inventory tracking, making it simple to record and manage your online inventory. However, if you use multiple platforms for selling your product, these platforms won’t track your inventory changes from outside sales. 

As such, it is essential to have a central place for keeping up with inventory. An outsourced bookkeeper can use your information to establish an accurate record of sales, restocks and returns in your books.

4. How to Record the Cost of Third-Party Tools and Refunds

You may use third-party tools to process payments, which can also complicate your bookkeeping — particularly when it comes to exchanges and returns. If someone returns a product, for example, did the third-party e-commerce platform track it? Or, did your business bookkeeping record the return?

Additionally, you likely won’t recoup the merchant fee your business paid, even if a customer returns an item. The merchant fee then becomes a loss, which you must reflect in your books.

The Importance of Tracking Inventory Cash Flow

Cash flow is the amount of money that comes in and out of your business yearly, quarterly and monthly. Knowing how much money passes through your business will allow you to maintain a healthy profit margin.

A cost-effective, organized inventory is one of the most crucial aspects of accounting for e-commerce companies. Maintaining inventory means more than stockpiling the items you want to sell. It also entails keeping track of your cash flow. 

The costs listed on your document for inventory cash flow should exclusively relate to your stock. You may want to list expenses including the cost of purchasing a product in your inventory, the cost of manufacturing and the cost of maintenance. For example, if you have merchandise that needs to stay frozen, your expenses would include maintaining and running the freezer. 

You should be tracking your actual sales and any inventory losses. Losses may result from damage, spoilage and theft. Though you can take measures to prevent these, you should still be ready to deal with them if they occur. 

How to Master Bookkeeping for E-Commerce Businesses: What to Do Daily, Weekly and Monthly

You can master bookkeeping for your business by following our e-commerce bookkeeping tips for daily, weekly and monthly tasks. 

Daily Bookkeeping Tasks

Every day, take the following financial steps:

  • Maintain a paper trail, including your paper and email receipts.
  • Keep track of invoices.
  • Read and archive relevant emails.

To claim legitimate business expenses and get your full tax benefit, you must be able to support your business expenses via receipts, emails and invoices. 

Weekly Bookkeeping Tasks

Every week, take the following financial steps.

  • Note variable or new expenses: If you have variable or new costs, keep an eye on these monthly to ensure they align with your expectations.
  • Track your cash flow: Track how much money you have in the bank and what expenses you need to cover for your business.  

Monthly Bookkeeping Tasks

Every month, take the following financial steps.

  • Pay attention to expenses: Each month, review your spending, so you can think strategically about how it fits in your business and how you may be able to increase profitability and cut costs.
  • Look at your business as a whole: Evaluate your business from a holistic perspective to get an idea of the bigger picture and understand how everything is going. Review your sales, income, expenses and cash position for a comprehensive view of your business.

Looking for an Outsourced E-Commerce Bookkeeping Solution? Contact Marshall Jones

At Marshall Jones, our bookkeeping services involve recording, retrieving and storing financial transactions. We will help you handle billing, record and organize receipts, prepare financial reports, track and verify invoices, oversee accounts receivable, handle employee payroll and pay suppliers and vendors. 

While some businesses may attempt to learn bookkeeping themselves or use bookkeeping software, this can lead to inaccuracies and errors. Fortunately, outsourcing your bookkeeping to us at Marshall Jones can lower the risk of mistakes and help your business avoid lost business opportunities and audits. Contact us at Marshall Jones to learn more about our e-commerce accounting services. 

Sources

  1. https://marshalljones.com/services/bookkeeping-services/
  2. https://marshalljones.com/contact-us/

Accounting Tips Every Real Estate Company Needs to Know

Real estate is a unique industry. There is plenty of opportunity for growth that depends on how well you manage the array of transactions that go through your business. Organization is critical in making the most of your bookkeeping and maximizing your profits, regardless of the size of your operation.

Here are a few of our tips on how to perform real estate accounting.

1. Choose a Method

Some businesses are required to use one method over another, while others have the option of using accrual or cash-basis methods for their bookkeeping. Each offers a different approach to accounting for real estate development.

Cash basis involves recording one entry every time cash is exchanged, while accrual creates two equal entries and records them when the cost is incurred, such as during an invoice, as opposed to being received or sent.

2. Set Time Aside Each Week to Review Finances

Staying on top of your money is essential. Plan on spending some time to go over your records, reconcile your accounts and understand where your money’s going to be. Talk it over with your accountant or business advisors.

3. Separate Personal and Business Accounts

This task is a simple one that can make your life much easier. It will make tax season significantly less daunting and it helps you stay organized.

4. Know Your Laws and Codes

Different regions have different implications for a real estate business. Administrative codes can vary, as well as local tax laws. Study up on them and ensure you abide by the regulations that apply to your company.

5. Maximize Your Tax Deductions

It might sound straightforward, but if you have a thorough understanding of possible tax deductions and write-offs, you may be able to reap the benefits and gather more revenue for growth. Your home office, work computer and gas costs can all earn you a higher refund at the end of the fiscal year.

6. Know Your Workers

If you frequently work with contractors, office employees or repair technicians, you’ll need to know how their status fits into your bookkeeping. For employees, you’ll need to pay employment taxes, including the portion withheld from their paychecks. Contractors, on the other hand, are responsible for their own taxes, so you won’t pay these.

Knowing which category your workers fall under can save you from penalties, back wages and other adverse results.

7. Work With an Accountant

Let’s be honest — you’d probably rather spend your time managing your properties than managing the books, especially if you’re not well-versed in accounting for real estate transactions. Partnering with an expert can help you maximize your profits and stay organized so that you can grow your real estate investments further.

We can help with that last one. When you are running a company in Atlanta, your focus should be on the task at hand, rather than the bookkeeping. Let Marshall Jones handle your real estate bookkeeping services. Contact us today to start working with one of our certified public accountants and advisors!

Top 5 Trends in the Non-Profit Industry

Nonprofits have a difficult role to fill. They improve conditions for people, animals and communities, all while running an organization that tends to resemble a commercial business. That means, like profit-making companies, they must adapt to changes in the industry, too.

5 Nonprofit Trends in 2020

As nonprofit organizations adapt to the changing landscape of the economy, their challenges and goals can shift as well. Here are some nonprofit trends to watch in 2020.

1. Investments in Technology

Innovations in technology become tools for the sustainability of an organization. Whether competing for funding or keeping the organization moving, nonprofit technology trends can be a driving force for a lot of the work they do. Without the right equipment, they may struggle to provide their services or keep up with the public’s desire for modern, easy-to-use connections.

Another aspect of technological growth that many businesses are observing is in their cybersecurity practices. Large organizations may be especially wary of security breaches or hacks, and cybersecurity is a priority for them.

2. Joint Ventures

Many nonprofit organizations find strategic partnerships with for-profit or other nonprofit organizations or government agencies. A few organizations plan to pursue mergers, but many nonprofits say they are considering entering a strategic partnership with another nonprofit.

By joining with other organizations, groups can pool their resources and work toward a common goal.

3. Greater Focus on Mission and Priorities

As more and more businesses vie for attention, nonprofit organizations need to make sure their message reads loud and clear so they don’t get lost in the noise. They may need to revisit their focus or ensure their priorities include objectives that are beneficial and appropriate for the group to pursue.

4. Easier and More Fulfilling Donations

Again, donors have a lot of options. Making the experience of donating resonate more with them can help endear someone to your organization.

Some ways that nonprofit organizations manage this is by showing the real-life impact a donation can make. They may share success stories of people affected by the organization or send someone a breakdown of how their contribution gets used.

Another way to make donations a better experience is to make them easier. One popular method is to allow people to donate via text message.

5. Boosting Employee Engagement

Nonprofit organizations aren’t known for their high salaries, but many of them also struggle with other areas of employee satisfaction. Outside of concerns about compensation, many, non-profit workers find that they face a lack of opportunity for advancement. Other concerns include management, benefits and training and development.

Many nonprofit organizations are aiming to boost their employee engagement and create more satisfying workplaces. With this goal, they may be able to retain staff for longer and contribute to a more enjoyable workplace overall.

For More Trends the Non-Profit Industry is Seeing, Watch our Video

Focusing on What’s Important

No matter how your nonprofit adapts to 2020, it’s essential that you and your staff can focus on the big picture. Leave the bookkeeping to us. Reach out today to learn more about the services Marshall Jones offers for nonprofits.

Tips for meeting with the board

7 Tips for Meeting With the Board

Meeting with your boss for the first time in a new job can be nerve-wracking. When your boss is a group of people with unique backgrounds, agendas and expectations, the meeting becomes even more complicated. As an executive, you likely feel the delicate balance between understanding how to manage a board of directors meeting while also remembering that you answer to these individuals. By preparing for your first board meeting with the following tips, you can show you have what it takes to lead your company to the next milestone.

1. Practice With a Mock Meeting

Meeting with a board is a different kind of meeting than the investor pitch — a presentation many young entrepreneurs have already mastered by the time they meet the board of directors. There’s a new set of rules to follow and a larger group of people to impress.It can be valuable to get advice from someone who has experience with board meetings as you prepare. An investor or trusted ally with experience as a board member can tell you what board members might think, ask and expect. In a mock board meeting, you’ll be able to practice presenting and fielding questions. Take advantage of feedback from your mentors during your practice session to make your meeting plans as effective as possible.

2. Send Relevant Documents in Advance

Sending information two weeks in advance gives board members a chance to digest it. Everyone will have time to read documents in-depth and make notes of any questions or comments. Your board will expect all your documents to offer well-researched solutions to problems. Remember, board meetings offer precious face time. The more time you can dedicate to debating ideas, the better. Know that board members may not be able to provide insightful comments on the spot unless they’ve had time to consider the meeting topics.

Doing your board meeting preparation two weeks in advance is a good discipline for a first-time or new executive. You’ll have to summarize and organize the information you plan to cover, which can help keep you on-task in the meeting. If your board meets once a month, you can start preparing for the next meeting immediately after each session. This can also help you stay focused on a strategic direction and won’t give you a chance to let action items from the previous meeting fall by the wayside.

3. Create an Agenda and Stick to It

A plan keeps the meeting on track and gives your entire board an overview of what you plan to discuss. It can be helpful to have a standard structure for all your board meetings, and your first meeting will set the tone. If you’re the new executive at an established company, ask your board members if they already have a format for meetings. While planning the board meeting, make sure you address essential items first and save items that could wait until the next meeting for the end. You’ll be thankful you did if the discussion runs long.By formatting the meeting the same way each time, you make it easier to prepare for each session. Board members will know what to expect every time. Assign action items if any are required, and be sure to note any expectations for the next meeting. Close the presentation by allowing each board member to give their parting thoughts.

4. Know Who You’re Meeting With

Before meeting with your executive board for the first time, do some research. Getting to know each members’ background can help you understand their perspectives. Try to figure out the issues most important to each board member so you can answer their questions insightfully. You should also make a point to introduce yourself. When you reach out to your board members, be sure to give each one the chance to ask any initial questions and add items to the agenda.If you can build a one-on-one relationship with each person, it will feel less intimidating when you meet with them as a group. Discussing individual members’ interests and concerns can also save you from facing these tough questions for the first time in front of the whole group.

5. Discuss Future Growth

One of the most critical board of directors meeting tips to keep in mind is to prepare a statement about future growth. Especially at the first board meeting for a new company, board members want to be confident in your ability to lead the company to success. Be ready to discuss the demand for your products or services using specific research, reports and relevant news articles. Lay out your vision for prosperity and your plan for how you expect to get there.

6. Be Confident

Projecting confidence is essential as your board is developing first impressions. Those who display high levels of confidence are rated more favorably by their managers in overall business leadership effectiveness. Managers consistently say that confident leaders are more likely to challenge the norms, be a champion for projects and make strategic changes.

Here are a few ways you can demonstrate confidence in the board room:

  • Know your facts: Whether you’re laying out a strategic plan or discussing your revenue streams, you need to back up what you say. You should know metrics, such as profit margins, and be able to explain them in-depth. If you say there is increased demand for a product in a particular area, you should be able to point to the research that proves it. When you don’t know something, be honest and take the initiative to look into it.
  • Take a leadership approach: One mistake many new executives make is using their board as an advisory council. Board members want to see you have the confidence and leadership experience to solve problems. Board meetings are a forum to present solutions, not to ask hard-to-answer questions. During your first few months, seek outside advice for challenges. As you progress at the company and get to know your board members, you can start to seek council from them. Still, try to ask these questions outside of the board room.
  • Be prepared for resistance: Not every idea you present will be met with instant approval. You’ll likely face some healthy debates, especially for plans you haven’t already discussed with your board members. You should always speak to your board members individually about new ideas to get their takes on them. Then, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and gather helpful supporting data before the meeting.

7. Have Accurate and Up-To-Date Financial Statements

Your financial statements are both an indicator of success and an overview of what your business is doing. Every board meeting should include some time to review these numbers. You should demonstrate that you understand these numbers and be prepared to defend your expenditures. You should send out financial records 72 hours in advance to ensure everyone has a chance to read them and prepare comments.

Financial statements, especially revenue streams and profit margins, provide an easy metric to track growth. By having up-to-date numbers at every meeting, you always know how your company is doing, and so do your board members. Be prepared to field questions and discuss how you plan to bring costs down and increase revenue.


Outsource Your Accounting to Marshall Jones

Having board-ready monthly financials to discuss is essential to coming to your board meeting prepared. That’s why an outsourced team of certified public accountants and advisors from Marshall Jones can make such a big difference for first-time CEOs and new companies

You get professional accounting services at a lower cost than hiring an in-house bookkeeper and an accessible accountant you can reach out to at any time. We provide accurate and up-to-date financial statements that you can discuss with your accountant before a meeting so you can understand and present all the details to your board.

Learn more about our outsourced accounting services today to see how we can assist your company.

construction workers looking at a blueprint

Accounting Tips for Your Construction Company

If you’re in the construction industry, you understand how important it is to be reliable. Your clients hold you accountable for your work. Solid construction begins with the foundation of a sound, financially stable business.  So when it comes to bookkeeping for construction companies, every detail counts.

Accounting can be a challenge for construction companies due to the large, often transient workforce and varied duration of contracts. But proper bookkeeping and construction accounting methods can go a long way in setting your business up for success.

5 Construction Bookkeeping Tips

There’s no standard accounting guide for construction companies. The best practices in the industry may not apply to every company because every construction company has different needs. However, it’s a good idea to keep these accounting tips in mind if you’re managing your company’s finances in-house:

1. Back Up All Relevant Records

Receipts, invoices and other documents are essential when it comes to managing your company’s finances. If you keep hard copies of these records, you’ll need to organize them so that it’s easy to find the documents you’re looking for. But you should also have a backup plan in case your documents are lost or damaged. Maintaining a digital record of these files is the best way to ensure their safety.

2. Record All Job Costs

Construction bookkeeping has many complexities, including keeping track of multiple jobs at the same time. Projects may differ greatly in length and size, which in turn leads to varying expenses. Your bookkeeper should maintain a record of every transaction that takes place during a given job. A breakdown of income and expenses for each project ensures that your company is making a profit.

3. Track Employee Hours Accurately

Another challenging aspect of accounting for construction companies is the large workforce. Your company’s team might include employees, contracted workers or a combination of both — and the construction workforce is often transient by nature. Your bookkeeper should diligently track the hours of everyone on your company’s payroll to ensure that you’re compliant with any applicable regulations.

4. Keep an Accurate Inventory of All Materials

It’s not uncommon to begin working on a construction project and realize that the job will require more labor or materials than originally anticipated. This is a normal part of the construction process. But if you’re constantly taking materials out of your inventory, your company can quickly go over budget. Keeping an accurate inventory of materials makes it easier to see where your resources are being used and budget accordingly.

5. Report on Projects in the Works

At any given time, your construction company might be taking on a variety of different projects. You should be reporting on completed projects as well as any project that is still in the works. This is essential because of the frequency of change orders and unexpected expenses that can occur during the course of the job.

Contact Marshall Jones Outsourced Accounting Services

When you manage a construction company in Atlanta, your focus should be on the project at hand. Outsourcing accounting services can save valuable time and ensure that your business is in a position for growth and financial success.

Let Marshall Jones handle the accounting side of your business. Contact us today to start working with one of our Certified Public Accountants and Advisors.