Be Sure to Make These Product Changes by August 30th

Be Sure to Make These Product Changes by August 30th

There are new regulations for CA Proposition 65 standards, and come August 30th, all products and environments containing or threatening possible exposure to certain hazardous chemicals as deemed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) must now follow the new labeling codes or face serious penalties. According to an article by CalChamber Advocacy, these penalties can be up to $2,500 per day, per infraction, as well as the possibility of injunctive relief or the cost of a lawyer. To avoid legal action or a product recall, see below for details on what your label should say by August 30th in order to act in accordance with Prop 65. The New Regulations Much like its predecessor, the new Proposition 65 regulations continue to call for “safe harbor” warnings on products or environments that contain hazardous chemicals. However, whereas the old requirements simply demanded a “clear and reasonable” warning, new Prop 65 rules contain specific instructions on what constitutes as “clear and reasonable” – most notably: listing the hazardous chemicals individually, adjusting the size and appearance of the warnings, and changing some of the wordage used. Additionally, businesses may now choose between listing the full warning on their products, or a “short-form” warning that is abbreviated, but “must be in a type size no smaller than the largest type size used for other consumer information on the product”, according to Proposition 65 code. Required Content on Warnings In order to be considered “clear and reasonable” a warning label on a product, sign, or shelf tag must contain the following alterations: Warnings must now begin with the words “This product...
“Best Practices” for Companies with Employees Using Prescription Drugs

“Best Practices” for Companies with Employees Using Prescription Drugs

With reports showing that one out of every three people in the U.S were prescribed an opioid drug in 2015, and medical marijuana now legal in 46 states, the number of frequent opioid users continues to steadily climb as the years progress. With this rising trend of prescription drug use, more and more businesses must now ask themselves whether the use of opioids is something they can tolerate in their workplaces, while yet others face discrimination lawsuits for rejecting a candidate for their drug use. As with most things in today’s changing business climate, the waters are still muddy over the specifics of what’s considered a company’s right, or mere discrimination. But when it comes to the sensitive subject of employee opioid or marijuana use, there are a few “best practice” tips to help your company stay within their rights. For Opioid Users While the law states that a candidate does not have to disclose any prescription drug use to an employer unless desired, many companies are encouraging employees and candidates alike to be open about any opioids they’re taking. The problem with this recommended disclosure? What to do if you discover an employee is indeed using prescription drugs. As demonstrated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) discrimination case against an employer who denied an applicant due to their daily prescription of Suboxone, there are a few things a court looks for to determine the validity of a company’s right to not hire an opiate-using applicant – the largest of which by far being medical evidence. To properly deny a candidate work, employers must first look at the...
5 Tips to Get Paid Faster

5 Tips to Get Paid Faster

Every business has its problem clients now and then, but when cash-flow interruptions are responsible for 29% of small business failures according to a recent poll, it’s important for businesses to have the security of quick income. So, if you’re looking for ways to get paid faster, here are five tips to help shorten the gap between invoices. 1)    Ask for a Percentage Upfront Despite what you might think, it’s not uncommon for businesses to ask for a portion of their fee upfront before completing any work. From requiring thirty to even fifty percent of the cost at the get go, an upfront fee helps not only ensure a steady cash-flow for small businesses, but also mitigate the risk should a client decide to skip out on payment later. If a client protests, simply explain that these are your usual payment terms or negotiate a lower percentage. But if they’re still unsure, consider not doing business with them altogether as this is usually a warning sign for delayed or nonexistent payments later. 2)    Get the Accounting Team’s Contact Info For many businesses, often the person you speak to about the job at hand isn’t the one who will be paying your invoice once it’s done. This is why the most effective way to ensure you get paid on-time is to insert a line into your contract asking for your client’s accounting team’s contact info. That way, when your invoice is about a week out from its deadline, you can notify your client’s accounts payable staff directly of the impending due date. 3)    Switch to Electronic Invoicing For those still...
OSHA Heat Illness Employer Responsibilities

OSHA Heat Illness Employer Responsibilities

Among many of the workplace hazards employers must protect their employees from under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heat illness is a serious condition that can affect employees in seemingly safe work areas. To help employers understand the risks associated with working in hot weather and how to prevent heat illness amongst their employees, OSHA uses the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) heat index to measure an individual’s risk based off the combined temperature and humidity for that day – OSHA then providing accompanying regulations for each day’s risk level. For an employer with workplaces outdoors or around hot machinery and factories, it’s imperative you know how to protect your employees from heat illness. For Low Risk Levels (Less than 91°F) As most employees can work safely under these temperatures, only basic heat prevention is enforced, including: Making sure water is available; Encouraging sunscreen use; Offering worker acclimatization; and Ensuring that medical services are nearby with an emergency plan in place if the heat increases. If working in areas with direct sunlight or no breeze, follow Moderate Level precautions instead, while all workers wearing impermeable clothing should be monitored closely with additional precautions taken. For Moderate Risk Levels (91°F – 103°F) In addition to following Low Level precautions, employers should: Remind workers to drink about 4 cups/hour; Provide refresh training on heat illness prevention and treatment; Schedule frequent rests in cool, shaded areas; and Implement a buddy-system under a heat monitor’s supervision. Any signs of heat illness should always be treated immediately – whether fighting minor headaches and fatigue by providing a break in the shade,...
How to Ensure Your Officer Compensation is Reasonable

How to Ensure Your Officer Compensation is Reasonable

Throughout this year of economic upheaval, Congress and the US Treasury Department has put continual pressure on the IRS to produce additional tax revenue; the tax administration quickly responding with the intention to increase its enforcement of audits. A common theme to many of those audits, reasonable officer compensation for S corporation shareholders has always been a hot spot for tax cases. With vagueness on the law providing enough confusion for business owners to either intentionally or unintentionally break it, the high penalties at stake are simultaneously just the “additional revenue” the IRS seeks. So, if there’s no clear definition on what qualifies as “reasonable” officer compensation, how can shareholders know what to pay to act in accordance of tax law and to protect themselves from a possible future audit? Here’s a few tips to keep business owners on the straight and narrow… Shareholders Count as Employees While there’s no one-size-fits-all measurement of what constitutes as reasonable officer compensation, existing tax code does define S corporation shareholders as “employees” under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), and federal income tax withholding. As such, all compensation received by the business owner – including fringe benefits like paid-for health insurance premiums – are considered wages and are thereby taxable under federal employment tax standards. Test the Compensation with the 9-Point Rule Operating on a case-by-case basis, whenever a tax court looks at an officer compensation lawsuit to see if the amount it reasonable, they consider these 9 factors: The responsibilities of the shareholder; The time and energy spent working for the business; The experience and training...
What to Do if You Receive an IRS Notice in the Mail

What to Do if You Receive an IRS Notice in the Mail

Let’s be honest: it can be scary to receive a notice from the IRS in the mail – our minds often jumping straight to worst case scenario of racked up penalties, or wondering if it could be a scam… Thankfully, unlike phone calls from those claiming to be IRS representatives, most mail notices are legitimate and usually not a reason to panic. Have you received an IRS notice recently? Here’s what to do. 1)    Don’t Ignore It As almost all letters from the IRS are notices about important changes or requests regarding your federal tax return or account, it’s important that you don’t ignore or throw them away. Often, simply reading the letter fully and following instructions will allow you to clear up any issue. However, all notices received from the IRS should always be top priority, as not responding with the appropriate action in a timely manner can lead to added penalties. 2)    Read the Letter Carefully Before doing anything else, you should read the letter carefully. Is it a notice for a corrected or changed tax return? If so, compare the information with your original filing to make sure it matches up before noting the changes in your personal records or alerting your tax professional. Is it a notice for taxes due or the required payment of fees? Again, review the details to see if what’s listed coincides with your records, before following the instructions to submit the appropriate payment. Check to make sure you didn’t accidentally post a payment to a different period. I’ve seen individuals handling their own payroll post into the wrong quarter leaving...
The Makings of a Modern CFO

The Makings of a Modern CFO

Traditionally, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was simply seen as a glorified accountant, crunching numbers from the safety of their desk and translating spreadsheets to workable figures. However, in today’s modern market where technology often takes on the more menial tasks of said number crunching, the average CFO has become so much more – and as such, more valuable to the companies they serve. So, for the company who’s curious what to look for in their next hire, or for the traditional CFO seeking to evolve with the changing industry, here’s what often makes a modern CFO successful. Learn to Work with an IT Team With recent GDPR privacy laws, massive leaps in the type of information that can be processed through technology, and the rising cyber threats a business can face, ensuring the security of company data has never been more crucial. According to a report done by Forbes, however, when it comes to the separate IT and C-suite departments, “each has different cyber security priorities. It turns out, nearly 40 percent of IT professionals don’t even think the executive teams understand the full risk of a cyber-attack.” For a CFO whose very job is to mitigate the financial risk of a company, learning to work with an IT team that ensures optimum data security and privacy compliance is imperative to avoid the blowback of a potential scandal. Master Unconventional Threat Forecasting Beyond simply predicting the financial future of a company, CFOs now have the potential and skills to evaluate the economy as a whole – often affording them valuable insight into market disruptions caused by natural disasters,...
The IRS Moves Forward with Five-Year Plan

The IRS Moves Forward with Five-Year Plan

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made some big changes to the nation’s tax landscape, and in the spirit of renovation, the IRS has made it clear they’re not going to stop there. Starting in 2018 and ending in 2022, the IRS has announced the details to their five-year plan with the aim of improving tax administration, taxpayer service, and the efficiency of their operations. According to The Fiscal Year 2018-2022 IRS Strategic Plan, the approach will be guided by six main goals: To give taxpayers the ability to meet their tax requirements; To encourage the compliance and enforcement of the Tax Code through improved administration; To actively work with external partners to help achieve said improvement; To amass an engaged, diverse, well-equipped, and flexible workforce; To improve systems of data access, analytics, and functionality for efficient and informed decision-making; and To increase the speed, effectiveness, and security of IRS operations through advanced technology and systems. Currently, the IRS is focusing a majority of their attention on fulfilling this sixth goal, as it’s widely believed that better technology will aid the resolution process for the remaining five goals, as well as help solve common taxpayer pain points through improved digital access like long waits on hold. Having already allocated $291M out of their budget of $11.4B to go towards purchasing new technology for their workplaces, the IRS is well on track. But experts like CPA and tax partner, Melissa Horne, at the CPA firm Smith & Howard in Atlanta, questions whether that will be enough. “The $291 million doesn’t seem like that much to spend on...
What’s Going to Happen to All Those “Toys R Us” Stores?

What’s Going to Happen to All Those “Toys R Us” Stores?

The announcement of Toys R Us stores closing across the nation was a sad but predictable outcome as popularity for online shopping and electronic games continues to grow. But with the sudden vacancy of over 700 Toys R Us buildings, many are wondering what’s going to happen to those prime storefront properties. For most of the real estate, the answer is they’ll probably sit empty until the end of summer. However, come the holidays’ shopping season, many of them could be temporarily occupied under short-term leases, while some are expected to have permanent tenants by the end of the year. Due to Toys R Us’ prominent success for a string of years, the chain managed to secure prime storefront locations in cities all along the Northeast, Florida, and California, which now sit as the perfect opportunity for businesses looking to increase store locations or upgrade to a higher traffic area. Similarly, much of those locations lie in areas with traditionally high real estate costs, adding yet another incentive for interested businesses. Party City marks one of the first few chains to swoop in, announcing plans to occupy 50 empty Toys R Us buildings this fall to sell their Halloween and Christmas lines under a short-term lease. Burlington, as well, has already agreed to buy 2 of Toys R Us’ locations, on top of the planned 30 relocations, and 60 new store openings. Other major retailers have also announced intentions to expand, though it’s unclear whether those new locations will be in previous Toys R Us locations. TJX – the parent company of HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls – plans...
How to Cut Back on Invoicing Costs

How to Cut Back on Invoicing Costs

It may seem a little counter-intuitive to consider how much it costs your business to receive money, but according to a recent Customer Credit and Open Invoicing Standards Bench-marking survey by APQC, sending a single invoice can cost up to $9.00. Multiply that amount by the number of invoices your business sends per month, and the price begins to add up. For the 896 businesses that were surveyed – with the costs of labor, overhead, billing systems, outsourcing, and other expenses considered – the results were broken up into three tiers: Top performers paying an average of $2/per invoice; Median performers paying an average of $3.94/per invoice; and Bottom performers paying an average of $9/per invoice. So, how can you bump your business up to the top performance tier? Here’s some tips on how to cut back on invoicing costs. 1)    Bridge Your Sales and Accounting Teams Invoicing can be difficult for an accounting team if there lacks clear communication between the sales team or a difference in system. To eliminate the added time, cost, and potential error of translating shorthand or verifying with the sales team, develop a standardized Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) between both teams to clearly regulate and pass on information like the customer’s name, address, tax information, cost, item purchased, and more. 2)    Invoice Electronically Perhaps one of the simplest changes one can make to cut back on costs is switching to electronic invoices. This can not only speed up the processing time and cut back on labor costs through automation, but also save on money that would normally go to purchasing paper, envelopes,...

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