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Developing a Flawless Succession Plan for Your Real Estate Business– CPA’s Perspective

When entering any business arrangement, including real estate partnerships, it is important to consider all potential future business changes. As time passes and the dynamics of your business change, a judicious succession plan can streamline the process of leadership changes, saving resources in both time and money.

A succession plan is a written document that outlines how one leader will replace another within a business. Leadership positions are commonly filled internally, with individuals with strong business acumen and experience positioned to evolve into the leadership positions successfully.

Leadership transitions are a great indicator of the strength and overall health of a business, proper management of the leadership change and the fashion that leaders exits the business are vitally important. A carefully designed succession plan reduces the risk for any potential conflicts associated with the change.  Further it can increase the capability and availability of well-trained employees that are prepared to assume leadership roles.

Conversations with CEOs from across the real estate industries recently have revealed a disproportionate lack of preparedness for succession planning. While many firms have succession plans in place, few of these plans contain the necessary ingredients for proven success.

The following are important points to considering when designing your succession plan:

 

  •   Set standards and criteria:
  • Develop standards concerning which characteristics are essential in leading your real estate business. During this consideration phase consult business advisers, industry contacts, and other important business partners/peers for perspective and input. A proper succession plan includes potential candidates to replace you, any real estate partners’, and all other positions of leadership within your agency. Develop expectations and standards for your succession plan early in the development of your business so you can strategically train and develop employees accordingly. Create a list of necessary and preferred qualifications, and consider the benefits of various skillsets and backgrounds.
  • ·          Assess internal candidates.
  •  As you develop your criteria and succession plan is it vital to strategically and continually train and mentor other real estate professionals within your business.
  •   Observe their positive qualities, as well as characteristics that may hinder their leadership abilities. Both hard and soft skills are vital when considering individuals for leadership positions and a balanced approach to the choice of people with complementary skills based on the dynamics of your business is vital. Consider all candidates and try to view the situation objectively.
  • ·          Prepare potential candidates.
  •  Integrating a plan to train and develop potential succession candidates is vital and often neglected or implemented improperly. All candidates require mentoring and training to assume a leadership role. Provide candidates resources, support, and motivation to learn, grow, and develop their capabilities to assume larger roles with more responsibility. Communication and shared values are key when developing and motivating employees.
  • Consult business advisers and mentors:
  • You know your business better than anyone, choosing your leaders depends on your perspective and objectives. While choosing future leaders for your company is done by you, professional advice is critical in making proper decisions and developing a flawless succession plan.
  •  Further, an objective perspective can also be beneficial in your considerations. A top-tier CPA and business adviser can help you analyze potential profitability of a candidates, make suggestions investment decisions for growth and training and offer advice/data regarding best industry practices.
  •   Succession planning involves many issues and multiple transfer strategies. Transfer strategies involve estate planning, asset protection in case of divorce or general creditors, income taxes, and estate taxes.
  •  Continually develop and optimize:
  •  Succession leaders have a plan, and they review it on a regular basis. Successful firms build a steady pipeline of talent by effectively assessing and developing rising leaders. Your succession plan should be revisited and revised as market conditions, business strategies, and employees change/develop.
  •  Competencies and experiences required for the next leader and currently possessed by employees should be observed and updated. Plans to bridge the gap between required and current skill-sets is vital – up to date snapshots ensures your plan is on track.  Provide a formal development plan for high-potential employees. Provide rising leaders with targeted development experiences to help them rise to the next level.

 

Succession planning is important for protecting the future of a company for its investors, employees, and/or its successor-owners. Succession leaders bring a future-focused orientation to their succession plans by developing a strong succession plan now that can help ease the transition of changing roles down the road. A company should view succession planning as vital and urgent to business strategy not as an administrative issue is not highly prioritized. Strong succession plans include transition timetables for their overall plans and employee development.

To assist real estate firms in optimizing their succession planning efforts, Camuso CPA offers a series of strategies to develop and tailor a first-rate succession plan to your business needs.  We are the people to call to develop a Charlotte real estate succession plan. In addition to a succession plan, you should develop an exit-strategy to further ease any future transitions within your business.

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Expense Management for Real Estate Agents and Investors

It is common for real estate agents to commingle personal and business finances. However, maintaining a proper accounting methodology by keeping your accounts separate allows you to stay organized, grow your business, and maximize your deductions during tax season:

·         Maintain Separate Bank Accounts

o   Set up a separate business account in addition to your personal bank account. Best practice is to maintain a separate account to track all your business transactions in one dedicated account which is categorized and date stamped.

·         Maintain a Separate Business Credit Card

o   Maintaining a separate business credit card allows you to build up a line of credit for your real estate agent business. Any interest rate incurred on your card is deductible as a business expense. Maintaining a separate credit card serves the same purpose and functions as maintaining a separate bank account to properly tack expenses.

·         Track Expenses Properly

o   Systems designed per best industry practices should be in place for tracking expenses that overlap such as expenses related to a home office or personal car usage which be documented, categorized, and expensed properly.

·         Categorize Expenses Properly

o   Consult your CPA to properly categorize and document business and personal expenses. Scrutiny is high around business expenses such as lunches, entertainment, and travel.

·         Set a reasonable personal salary

o   Tax planning and industry financial expertise is critical in this area. Setting your salary too low exposes you to risk of IRS examination which can result can be payment of unpaid employment taxes and hefty penalties and interest. Setting your salary too high leads overpaying taxes. Over the course of your business’ life the overpayments of tax and lost investment opportunities can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Scrutiny is high around personal salaries, be sure to consult a CPA with real estate industry knowledge.

 

Real estate agents and business owners face unique financial challenges and opportunities. Since a large portions of business is conducted outside of the office, expense management is a top priority. You have the burden of saving your receipts and recording and categorizing your expenses when you are in your office.

 

Expense management allows businesses and agents to maintain strong cash flow while also maximizing tax deductions by properly tracking your expenses Maintaining a streamlined bookkeeping system as a real estate agent leads to significant tax savings. Hiring a CPA with experience working with real estate agents ensures that your business is organized and you are receiving first-class business advisement.

 

By consulting your business adviser now and considering the points above, you’ll be able to lower your taxes, reduce potential payroll-related penalties, and develop a strategic business plan to optimize your success in the upcoming year. If you need help with expense management for real estate agents and investors in Charlotte, we can help. If you need more information about the process, please contact Camuso CPA.

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Important Year-End Planning Considerations for Business Owners and Investors

Year-end is right around the corner which means year-end planning for business owners and advisers has commenced. Strategic tax and business planning can position you to reduce taxes and accelerate your business growth to new levels in 2017.

Business owners should team up with accredited and trusted financial advisors to develop comprehensive tax and business strategies. Comprehensive planning related to your business includes a wide variety of considerations unique to your business and industry, below are key areas that should be included in any year-end discussion with your adviser:

  •  Overall Business Vision and Goal Prior Year Progress

  Consider if you have met your annual, quarterly, and monthly business goals, both financial and strategic. Assess your performance and plan accordingly with your advisor for the coming year based off your past performance and future projections.

  •   Cash Flow

Cash flow is the lifeblood for any small business or investor, impacting your daily operations and overall business planning. Assess your cash position with your financial advisor and plan for the coming year based on your current position and projections.

  •   Payroll

Review your payroll information to ensure that is it updated and completed. Considerations include items such as proper classification of employees, updated information, compliance with payroll regulations, data security and integrity.

  •  Tax Planning

 The fourth quarter is a key time to develop and implement tax planning strategies with your CPA. Assessing your tax position at the beginning of the year and planning your finances and investments accordingly can led to significant tax savings at filing time.

  • Estimated Tax Payments

 Businesses and investors who pay estimated tax payments throughout the year should review their current position with their CPA to assess any shortfalls before year-end and plan for the upcoming tax year.

Business owners and investors have complex tax situations and benefit greatly by maintaining trusted business advisors with financial expertise such as CPAs. Reducing tax liability is key to any successful overall business or investing plan. Decreasing taxes translates to more money in your pocket, a higher return on investment, and a faster accumulation of wealth. By consulting your business advisor now and considering the points above, you’ll be able to lower your taxes, reduce potential payroll-related penalties, and develop a strategic business plan to optimize your success in the upcoming year. For tax help for business owners or tax help for investors in Charlotte, give Camuso CPA a call.

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Items Required for Filing Income Tax Return

Below is a comprehensive list of the items that you will need to provide your CPA to file your income tax return. Best practice is to compile a file of these items throughout the year as applicable so they are available to send to your CPA as early as possible.

·         Basic Information

o   Full names, Social Security Numbers, Birthdays, and Addresses of self and all family members

o   Filing status election (Consult CPA)

·         Financial Information

o   All W-2s’s

o   All K-1’s

o   All 1099’s

o   Alimony

o   Business Income documentations

o   Rental Property Income documentation

o   Documentation for all income not included elsewhere

o   State tax refunds

o   IRA Contributions/Withdrawals

o   Mortgage Interest

o   Real Estate Taxes Paid

o   Any other taxes paid

o   All charitable contributions documentation

o   Medical expenses documentation

 

Be sure to consult your CPA about any expenses which you are not clear on in terms of qualification for deductions or exemptions. We are the Charlotte CPA to call for help with income taxes. Feel free to reach out to us at your convenience!

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RE Agents – Best Business Structure – S Corporations

S corporations can save their owners a significant amount of tax.  This tax savings can exceed their entire annual CPA fee.  The IRS is naturally monitoring for abuses in this area as the potential dollar savings are substantial.  An ideal CPA to advise in this area is a financial expert that works primarily with real estate agents and other professionals utilizing S corporations, so they have industry data and up to date knowledge of the acceptable standards.

To reduce your self-employment tax bill, you can create an S corporation and hire yourself as an employee.  You pay yourself, who is classified as an employee, a reasonable wage for your work. If there is profit left over at the end of the year, the partner which would also be yourself split the earnings. Self-employment tax is only paid on wages — not on the company profit which results in significant tax savings.

Tax planning and industry financial expertise is critical in this area. Setting your salary too low exposes you to risk of IRS examination, which can result in payment of unpaid employment taxes and hefty penalties and interest.  Setting your salary too high leads overpaying taxes.  Over the course of your business’ life, the over-payments of tax and lost investment opportunities can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Monthly clients at Camuso CPA receive an annual in depth analysis of reasonable compensation.  Our team of CPA’s is constantly gathering support from every level of legislative and administrative tax authority. This is essential and should be offered by the CPA advising you. While there are other options, S-Corporation tax structure is an advanced tax planning strategy available to real estate agents and other self-employed professionals that can financially benefit. Ask your experienced CPA and business adviser about this strategy. If you need S corporation tax services in Charleston, we can help you with structuring yours.

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Benefits of CPA Business Advisor

Regardless of whether you are flipping properties, developing a major project, or building a rental portfolio, maintaining a trusted CPA as your business advisor is essential to the success of any business. Investors and business owners of all types should look for an advisor that serves as a partner; an ideal CPA is a financial expert with companies within your industry that can provide ongoing financial and business advice when you need it most.

Exceptional CPAs offer business and financial knowledge. As your business grows, a CPA is instrumental in the process of streamlining your business, your CPA is integral in your business advisement because they know your business and they should have other clients within the same industry which enables them to provide knowledge on best industry practices.

Investors and real estate business owners should demand the highest level of industry expertise and services to fit their business needs. Technology makes it increasingly easier to collaborate with CPAs regardless of their physical location and proximity. It is the best practice to seek a CPA who has a company where the majority of their client base is made up of real estate investors, developers, and agents. Seeking an industry expert ensures that the professional is up to date on the IRS regulations and has a solid professional network within your specific industry. A professional’s competency on the issues surrounding real estate is extremely important.

Many contemporary CPAs who are experts in their industry that function in a business advisory role offer monthly engagements to their clients. This is the most beneficial routes for business owners to pursue when seeking a CPA because it offers them uninterrupted access to a financial expert that can provide ongoing advice precisely when your company needs it.

Your CPA should also act as a relationship manager and expander; a one stop shop for the services their clients need without having to take on the expense of retaining additional in-house talent by offering a strong professional network that can engage their client’s needs that are outside their capabilities.

Before entering an engagement with your CPA do a basic search on their background and work history. There are opportunities to work with individuals that are the best in the business with the credibility of working at the world’s greatest companies who have pursued their own route to serve small business owners and investors in your industry. It is beneficial to seek CPAs with a team that has experience working with the best in the business at one of the Big 4 accounting firms and/or the most reputable companies within your industry.

An excellent CPA will have an entrepreneurial approach to their own business and experiment with various parts such as their service offering, pricing, or forms of communication. This could be as simple as introducing a new product or as complex as overhauling a pricing model. An innovative CPA that is innovating their own industry and business is more likely to have insights and benefits to offer you as a business owner and investor. A true, motivated business advisor is one that you need on your team.

It gives you not only piece of mind but business confidence to know that a financial expert that is experienced within your industry has your business interest in mind and is constantly available to strategically help your business or investments grow. Whether it’s trying to navigate through complex business planning or handling IRS inquiries, when you’ve hired trusted CPA the process becomes much easier and you can focus on improving your business. When you want all of these benefits of a CPA business advisor in Charlotte, give the professionals at Camuso, CPA a call.

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American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation Ask IRS to Create Safe Harbor for Cryptocurrency Hard Forks

Here at Camuso CPA, we offer cryptocurrency tax services in Charlotte to clients across the country. Cryptocurrencies are an exciting new currency medium that is fast gaining popularity. However, as a new monetary medium, there is a lot of grey area come tax season. The last thing any good investor wants is to be scrutinized by the IRS, and that is fast becoming a real possibility as cryptocurrencies become more mainstream. Here, we will go over why many people haven’t yet reported their cryptocurrency transactions to the IRS, and why they should.

The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation has formally asked the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to create a safe harbor for investment gains realized from cryptocurrency hard forks.

In the letter the ABA noted that several major developments have occurred in the cryptoasset space since 2014 when the IRS first provided guidance on how the agency treats cryptocurrency investments for federal tax purposes

Chief among the Section’s concerns is a need for clear guidance on how investors should report gains associated with hard forks, which cause a blockchain to split into more than one version and provide current coin-holders with funds on both chains.

Since US tax returns are due in less than a month, the Section recommended that the IRS adopt a “temporary rule, in the form of a safe harbor” for taxpayers who received funds from hard forks.

According to the Section’s proposed language, the hard fork would constitute a taxable event, but the initial value of the forked coins would be $0.

Consequently, investors would not have to pay taxes on the market value of the coins unless they later sold or otherwise disposed of them, at which point they would be taxed at full market value as capital gains — not ordinary income.

CRYPTOCURRENCIES AS PROPERTY

Back in March of 2014, the IRS began providing some guidance for the taxation of Bitcoin, one of the most popular and mainstream cryptocurrencies. Because of these guidelines, cryptocurrencies are treated as property rather than currency. Like all taxed property, when you report cryptocurrency to the IRS, what you owe will be based off of the price you bought it at, the price you sold it at, and the change in value between when you bought and sold it. Many experts believe this is not the ideal designation for cryptocurrencies, and may even become a deterrent in their adoption.

With such a laundry list of tasks necessary just to file taxes properly, it’s no wonder most cryptocurrency traders haven’t filed yet. However, they must file if they don’t want to be audited by the IRS. Due to the novel and complicated nature of cryptocurrencies, the best and most efficient way to ensure you have your taxes done properly is to hire a professional CPA knowledgeable about cryptocurrencies.

If you are looking for qualified crytpocurrency tax services, Camuso CPA can help! Please feel free to give us a call for more information about our cryptocurrency and other tax services. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. We look forward to hearing from you

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