Congratulations to Dorothy Grace Goodwin on receiving the M&J Scholarship at the UGA Accounting Awards Banquet!
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Monday, April 24th, 2017
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
Many not-for-profits are adopting a marketing tactic that has been used successfully by for-profit companies. Social listening costs relatively little and can give you valuable insight into issues that resonate with your supporters. This allows you to tailor communications to better reach them.
Identify and engage
Social listening starts with monitoring social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for mentions of your organization and related keywords. But to take full advantage of this strategy, you also must identify and engage with topics that interest your supporters and interact with “influencers,” who can extend your message by sharing it with their audiences.
Influencers don’t have to be celebrities with millions of followers. Connecting with a group of influencers who each have only several hundred followers can expand your reach exponentially. For example, a conservation organization might follow and interact with a popular rock climber or other outdoor enthusiast to reach that person’s followers.
To use social listening, develop a list of key terms related to your organization and its mission, programs and campaigns. You’ll want to treat this as a “living document,” updating it as you launch new initiatives. Then “listen” for these terms on social media. Several free online tools are available to perform this monitoring, including Google Alerts, Twazzup and Social Mention.
When your supporters or influencers use the terms, you can send them a targeted email with a call to action, such as a petition, donation solicitation or event announcement. Your call to action could be as simple as asking them to share your content.
You can also use trending hashtags (a keyword or phrase that’s currently popular on social media, such as #BostonMarathon or #PrinceHarry) to keep your communications relevant and leverage current events on a real-time basis. You might be able to find creative ways to join the conversation while promoting your organization or campaign.
Savvy nonprofits know they need to embrace and make the most of social media. By pursuing social listening, you can cost-effectively improve your engagement efforts. Contact us for more information on growing your supporter base.
Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
While April 15 (April 18 this year) is the main tax deadline on most individual taxpayers’ minds, there are others through the rest of the year that are important to be aware of. To help you make sure you don’t miss any important 2017 deadlines, here’s a look at when some key tax-related forms, payments and other actions are due. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you.
Please review the calendar and let us know if you have any questions about the deadlines or would like assistance in meeting them.
- File a 2016 individual income tax return (Form 1040) or file for a four-month extension (Form 4868), and pay any tax and interest due, if you live outside the United States.
- Pay the second installment of 2017 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).
- Pay the third installment of 2017 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).
- If you’re the trustee of a trust or the executor of an estate, file an income tax return for the 2016 calendar year (Form 1041) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic five-and-a-half month extension was filed.
- File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic six-month extension was filed (or if an automatic four-month extension was filed by a taxpayer living outside the United States).
- Make contributions for 2016 to certain retirement plans or establish a SEP for 2016, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.
- File a 2016 gift tax return (Form 709) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.
- Make 2017 contributions to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans.
- Make 2017 annual exclusion gifts (up to $14,000 per recipient).
- Incur various expenses that potentially can be claimed as itemized deductions on your 2017 tax return. Examples include charitable donations, medical expenses, property tax payments and expenses eligible for the miscellaneous itemized deduction.
Monday, April 17th, 2017
M&J Atlanta is thrilled to welcome the Braves to their new home in Cobb County! The Atlanta office enjoyed good old fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers to kick off the weekend, and many M&J folks attended the opening weekend with their friends and families! With the 3-win weekend and Blue Angels flyover, we would definitely say it was a successful opener! Go Braves!
Thursday, April 13th, 2017
Our Atlanta office had the privilege of hosting Leadership Cobb 2017’s CEO Small Group discussion today. Carol Tome, CFO and Executive Vice President, Corporate Services for The Home Depot, spoke about her many achievements as well as her personal leadership journey. We would like to thank Carol for her inspiring words and all the participants who attended this session!
Thursday, April 13th, 2017
To err is human, but your not-for-profit’s supporters, not to mention the IRS, may be less than forgiving if errors affect your financial books. Fortunately, if you attend to accounting details, you can avoid these common pitfalls:
1. Failing to follow accounting procedures. Even the smallest nonprofit should set formal, documented and detailed procedures for managing financial and bookkeeping chores. Your process should include all aspects of managing your organization’s money — how to accept, document and deposit donations, pay bills, and handle every step in between. Put these procedures in writing and make sure you follow each step, every time.
2. Making data entry errors. It’s easy to wreak havoc on your accounts by entering a $500 payment as $50 or transposing numbers. So check and double-check every entry every time. Reconcile accounts against bank statements immediately, and don’t overlook even the smallest discrepancy.
3. Working without a budget. You can’t control overspending or invest a surplus if you don’t know they exist. Budgets don’t have to be intricate to be useful; just look at a few months’ worth of bills and deposits to create a starting point. Then refine your plan as you go along. Include a “miscellaneous” category, but don’t allow it to account for the majority of your expenses.
4. Playing loose with petty cash. Small expenditures like picking up a few office supplies or buying a pizza for volunteers is much easier to do with a petty cash fund. Handle the cash with care, though. Lock it up, authorize only a few people to make disbursements and require receipts for all expenditures.
5. Neglecting to properly categorize. All money coming in and going out of your organization must be assigned to the appropriate category. This is particularly important if you accept donations that may be earmarked for certain programs. To be successful at this, you need to properly set up the initial chart of accounts and define how items should be assigned.
Contact us with any nonprofit financial questions or if you need help devising organizationwide policies.
Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Because of a weekend and a Washington, D.C., holiday, the 2016 tax return filing deadline for individual taxpayers is Tuesday, April 18. The IRS considers a paper return that’s due April 18 to be timely filed if it’s postmarked by midnight. But dropping your return in a mailbox on the 18th may not be sufficient.
Let’s say you mail your return with a payment on April 18, but the envelope gets lost. You don’t figure this out until a couple of months later when you notice that the check still hasn’t cleared.
You then refile and send a new check. Despite your efforts to timely file and pay, you’re hit with failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties totaling $1,500.
Avoiding penalty risk
To avoid this risk, use certified or registered mail or one of the private delivery services designated by the IRS to comply with the timely filing rule, such as:
- DHL Express 9:00, Express 10:30, Express 12:00 or Express Envelope,
- FedEx First Overnight, Priority Overnight, Standard Overnight or 2Day, or
- UPS Next Day Air Early A.M., Next Day Air, Next Day Air Saver, 2nd Day Air A.M. or 2nd Day Air.
Beware: If you use an unauthorized delivery service, your return isn’t “filed” until the IRS receives it. See IRS.gov for a complete list of authorized services.
If you’re concerned about meeting the April 18 deadline, another option is to file for an extension. If you owe tax, you’ll still need to pay that by April 18 to avoid risk of late-payment penalties as well as interest.
If you’re owed a refund and file late, you won’t be charged a failure-to-file penalty. However, filing for an extension may still be a good idea.
We can help you determine if filing for an extension makes sense for you — and help estimate whether you owe tax and how much you should pay by April 18.
Thursday, April 6th, 2017
What would happen if one of your not-for-profit’s key people suddenly quit or had to go on long-term disability? Would you be able to conduct business as usual? To prevent a critical function from possibly coming to a standstill, consider cross-training staff.
Cross-training personnel means that you teach them how to do one another’s jobs. That way, if one staffer is unavailable, another can jump in and do the job. Cross-training also can increase your organization’s productivity. If the workload temporarily becomes heavy in one area, you’ll be able to shift employees where they’re needed.
There’s also value in a fresh pair of eyes. An employee who’s filling in for someone else can bring new perspective to day-to-day operations and may be able to come up with process improvements.
What’s more, cross-training staff is central to strong internal controls. Making sure that one accounting employee’s job is periodically performed by another employee can prevent fraud. Potential thieves are put on notice that their activities could come under review at any time.
Employees also gain
Employees can benefit, too. If the task a cross-trained staffer learns is vertical — it requires more responsibility or skill than that employee’s normal duties do — the employee may feel (and be) more valuable to the organization. If the task is lateral — with the same level of responsibility as the employee’s routine duties — the staffer still gains a greater understanding of the department or organization. Plus, the shared experience fosters mutual support.
Note, however, that not every employee is a candidate for cross-training. Choose people who show an interest in particular areas of your operation and are open to change. For example, your program coordinator might want to learn more about fundraising and could be an appropriate person to back up your development team.
Be sure to build the idea of cross-training into your hiring process. Select job candidates who show flexibility and curiosity, and let them know that, if hired, they may need to learn how to perform the duties of other employees.
Begin the process by determining which positions should be cross-trained and creating an implementation plan. Contact us for tips on cross-training accounting and other employees.
Wednesday, April 5th, 2017
Currently, home ownership comes with many tax-saving opportunities. Consider both deductions and exclusions when you’re filing your 2016 return and tax planning for 2017:
Property tax deduction. Property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Mortgage interest deduction. You generally can deduct interest on up to a combined total of $1 million of mortgage debt incurred to purchase, build or improve your principal residence and a second residence. Points paid related to your principal residence also may be deductible.
Home equity debt interest deduction. Interest on home equity debt used for any purpose (debt limit of $100,000) may be deductible. But keep in mind that, if home equity debt isn’t used for home improvements, the interest isn’t deductible for AMT purposes.
Mortgage insurance premium deduction. This break expired December 31, 2016, but Congress might extend it.
Home office deduction. If your home office use meets certain tests, you generally can deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and certain other expenses, and the depreciation allocable to the space. Or you may be able to use a simplified method for claiming the deduction.
Rental income exclusion. If you rent out all or a portion of your principal residence or second home for less than 15 days, you don’t have to report the income. But expenses directly associated with the rental, such as advertising and cleaning, won’t be deductible.
Home sale gain exclusion. When you sell your principal residence, you can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of gain if you meet certain tests. Be aware that gain allocable to a period of “nonqualified” use generally isn’t excludable.
Debt forgiveness exclusion. This break for homeowners who received debt forgiveness in a foreclosure, short sale or mortgage workout for a principal residence expired December 31, 2016, but Congress might extend it.
The debt forgiveness exclusion and mortgage insurance premium deduction aren’t the only home-related breaks that might not be available in the future. There have been proposals to eliminate other breaks, such as the property tax deduction, as part of tax reform.
Whether such changes will be signed into law and, if so, when they’d go into effect is uncertain. Also keep in mind that additional rules and limits apply to these breaks. So contact us for information on the latest tax reform developments or which home-related breaks you’re eligible to claim.
Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Congrats to all of our hard-working M&J employees who have earned shiny, new promotions!