Blog

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Boosting the matching gifts your nonprofit receives

Corporate matching can double the value of donors’ gifts — a bonus no not-for-profit organization can afford to pass up. Are you doing everything you can to educate your financial supporters and their employers about matching gifts?

Encourage donors and employers

Most matching programs are managed by HR departments, which provide employees with matching gift forms. Typically, the employer sends the completed forms, along with the matched donations, to the charity the employee has chosen. Dollar-for-dollar matching is most common among participating corporations, but some companies offer more, others less. Many match donations to any nonprofit, but some are more restrictive.

To encourage increased matching gifts, draw up a list of employers in your area that offer matching. Typically, you can find this information in annual reports, on company websites or by calling companies’ HR, PR or community relations departments. If the company operates a foundation, its matching program may run through that entity.

Once you have a comprehensive and accurate list, post it on your website’s donation page. Also use the list to reach out to existing donors you know work for those companies. All of your nonprofit’s solicitations should encourage supporters to check with their employers about the availability of matching.

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Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Tax deduction for moving costs: 2017 vs. 2018

If you moved for work-related reasons in 2017, you might be able to deduct some of the costs on your 2017 return — even if you don’t itemize deductions. (Or, if your employer reimbursed you for moving expenses, that reimbursement might be excludable from your income.) The bad news is that, if you move in 2018, the costs likely won’t be deductible, and any employer reimbursements will probably be included in your taxable income.

Suspension for 2018–2025

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), signed into law this past December, suspends the moving expense deduction for the same period as when lower individual income tax rates generally apply: 2018 through 2025. For this period it also suspends the exclusion from income of qualified employer reimbursements of moving expenses.

The TCJA does provide an exception to both suspensions for active-duty members of the Armed Forces (and their spouses and dependents) who move because of a military order that calls for a permanent change of station.

Tests for 2017

If you moved in 2017 and would like to claim a deduction on your 2017 return, the first requirement is that the move be work-related. You don’t have to be an employee; the self-employed can also be eligible for the moving expense deduction.

The second is a distance test. The new main job location must be at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your former main job location was from that home. So a work-related move from city to suburb or from town to neighboring town probably won’t qualify, even if not moving would have increased your commute significantly.

Finally, there’s a time test. You must work full time at the new job location for at least 39 weeks during the first year. If you’re self-employed, you must meet that test plus work full time for at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months at the new job location. (Certain limited exceptions apply.)

Deductible expenses

The moving expense deduction is an “above-the-line” deduction, which means it’s subtracted from your gross income to determine your adjusted gross income. It’s not an itemized deduction, so you don’t have to itemize to benefit.

Generally, you can deduct:

  • Transportation and lodging expenses for yourself and household members while moving,
  • The cost of packing and transporting your household goods and other personal property,
  • The expense of storing and insuring these items while in transit, and
  • Costs related to connecting or disconnecting utilities.

But don’t expect to deduct everything. Meal costs during move-related travel aren’t deductible • nor is any part of the purchase price of a new home or expenses incurred selling your old one. And, if your employer later reimburses you for any of the moving costs you’ve deducted, you may have to include the reimbursement as income on your tax return.

Please contact us if you have questions about whether you can deduct moving expenses on your 2017 return or about what other tax breaks won’t be available for 2018 under the TCJA.

© 2018


Monday, February 19th, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Happiest of birthdays to some of our Bradenton employees.  From L to R:

  • Tommye Barie – February 7th
  • Steve Parent – February 14th
  • Cara Krusch – January 10th
  • Kathleen Critchett – February 6th
  • Julie Poole – February 18th
  • Diane Smith – February 25th (Not Pictured – She was on an important phone call when this photo was taken).

Everyone gathered in the break room to celebrate January & February birthdays with some delicious cake!


Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Making the most of your nonprofit’s internal audit function

The key role of a not-for-profit’s internal auditors was once limited largely to testing financial and compliance controls and reporting their findings to the organization’s leadership. But today, with their cross-departmental perspective, internal audit staff (whether employees or outside consultants) can help anticipate and mitigate a variety of risks, improve processes — and even help evaluate your nonprofit’s strategies.

Core job

On its most basic level, the internal audit function provides independent assurance of compliance with a nonprofit’s internal controls and their effectiveness in mitigating financial and operational risk. Potential risks include fraud, insufficient funds to support programming and reputational damage.

Internal auditors start by identifying a nonprofit’s vulnerabilities and prioritizing them from high to low. Through testing and other methods, they then assess the effectiveness of internal controls. Auditors document their results in reports that include recommended improvements.

Internal auditors further evaluate compliance with laws, regulations and contracts. They follow up on management’s remediation actions to eliminate identified risks and assist external auditors, when applicable.

The effectiveness of the internal audit function hinges on auditor independence. Auditors should be independent from management and all areas they review to avoid bias or a conflict of interest. Auditors should report directly to the board of directors or its audit committee.

Expanded function

Although the internal audit function is often viewed mainly through the prism of compliance and internal controls, it has a lot to offer beyond risk assessments and audit plans. Savvy nonprofits have begun to tap internal audit for strategic purposes.

Auditors may serve as internal consultants, providing insights gathered while performing compliance and assessment work. For example, while reviewing invoices, internal auditors may discover a way to streamline invoice processing.

The internal audit function’s familiarity with the organization’s inner workings also affords it an unusual perspective for evaluating strategic opportunities. Does your nonprofit have a financial weakness that could undermine plans for continuing current programs or launching new ones? Your internal auditor probably knows the answer.

Ask for more

Increased public scrutiny of how nonprofits are governed and held accountable makes an effective internal audit function a must. But internal auditors can offer your nonprofit more than financial and compliance oversight. To ensure you’re making the most of this function, contact us.

© 2018


Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Families with college students may save tax on their 2017 returns with one of these breaks

Whether you had a child in college (or graduate school) last year or were a student yourself, you may be eligible for some valuable tax breaks on your 2017 return. One such break that had expired December 31, 2016, was just extended under the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018: the tuition and fees deduction.

But a couple of tax credits are also available. Tax credits can be especially valuable because they reduce taxes dollar-for-dollar; deductions reduce only the amount of income that’s taxed.

Higher education breaks 101

While multiple higher-education breaks are available, a taxpayer isn’t allowed to claim all of them. In most cases you can take only one break per student, and, for some breaks, only one per tax return. So first you need to see which breaks you’re eligible for. Then you need to determine which one will provide the greatest benefit.

Also keep in mind that you generally can’t claim deductions or credits for expenses that were paid for with distributions from tax-advantaged accounts, such as 529 plans or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts.

Credits

Two credits are available for higher education expenses:

  1. The American Opportunity credit — up to $2,500 per year per student for qualifying expenses for the first four years of postsecondary education.
  2. The Lifetime Learning credit — up to $2,000 per tax return for postsecondary education expenses, even beyond the first four years.

But income-based phaseouts apply to these credits.

If you’re eligible for the American Opportunity credit, it will likely provide the most tax savings. If you’re not, consider claiming the Lifetime Learning credit. But first determine if the tuition and fees deduction might provide more tax savings.

Deductions

Despite the dollar-for-dollar tax savings credits offer, you might be better off deducting up to $4,000 of qualified higher education tuition and fees. Because it’s an above-the-line deduction, it reduces your adjusted gross income, which could provide additional tax benefits. But income-based limits also apply to the tuition and fees deduction.

Be aware that the tuition and fees deduction was extended only through December 31, 2017. So it won’t be available on your 2018 return unless Congress extends it again or makes it permanent.

Maximizing your savings

If you don’t qualify for breaks for your child’s higher education expenses because your income is too high, your child might. Many additional rules and limits apply to the credits and deduction, however. To learn which breaks your family might be eligible for on your 2017 tax returns — and which will provide the greatest tax savings — please contact us.

© 2018


Monday, February 12th, 2018

Proud to be a sponsor of the Cobb Chamber First Monday Breakfast!

M&J was proud to sponsor the Cobb Chamber First Monday Breakfast today. Our Managing Partner, Donny Luker, spoke about the Firms 100 Years of success and how the military has played an important role within our markets and in the creation of our Firm’s culture.


Friday, February 9th, 2018

Is your employer withholding enough in taxes?


Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Is your nonprofit ready to hire new staffers?

According to the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey by human resources consultant Nonprofit HR, charities are hiring at a faster pace than for-profit companies. Of the not-for-profits surveyed, 50% reported that they would add staffers, vs. 40% of for-profit businesses.

Yet plenty of nonprofits are still hesitating to add employees to the payroll. If your organization is on the sidelines but thinking about hiring in the near future, the following three questions can help you decide:

  1. Do you need employees? Although this may seem like an obvious question, it isn’t necessarily. Even if you plan to expand services and introduce new programs, volunteers may be capable of picking up the slack. Or current staffers may be underused on projects that are stagnating or winding down. Carefully examine your nonprofit’s priorities and consider eliminating programs that aren’t meeting expectations so that you can redeploy human resources where you need them most.
  2. Do you have the money? Many nonprofits are experiencing a rebound in financial support to prerecession levels. Even if you’re flush, the fact remains that nonprofits are obligated to be careful financial stewards. Donors, watchdog groups and the media demand it. So consider how you’ll make the most of any new staffing budget before you spend it.
  3. Is outsourcing an option? Remember that, when you hire full-time employees, the expense isn’t limited to salaries or hourly wages — you’ll also be paying for benefits. In many cases, it’s cheaper to outsource functions, particularly accounting, IT and human resources work. Outsourcing offers the additional benefit of being temporary if you aren’t happy with the vendor. Underperforming employees are much harder to let go.

These are only a few questions to ask before deciding to hire new employees. The important thing is to share the decision. Consult your organization’s managers and board members and contact us for more information.

© 2018


Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Kristen Lord at Georgia Southern Women’s Leadership Conference

Our CFO, Kristen Lord, presented at the Georgia Southern Women’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, February 3rd. She spoke to Juniors and Seniors about transitioning from college to career, networking and mentorship. We know Kristen provided these ladies with some great guidance!


Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

M&J’s Jeff Fucito and Greg Morgan Honored at Cobb Chamber Annual Dinner Gala

Chairman Gary Bottoms & Jeff Fucito Photo Courtesy of Cobb Business Journal

Cynthia Reichard, Chairman Gary Bottoms & Greg Morgan Photo Courtesy of Cobb Business Journal

Saturday, February 3, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce hosted its 76th Annual Dinner celebration at the Cobb Galleria Centre. This black-tie affair is attended by nearly 1000 of Cobb County’s finest, and the event is intended to honor those who continue to support the community. Mauldin & Jenkins was an Emerald Sponsor and was represented by Jeff Fucito, Greg Morgan, Aleisa Howell, Jon Schultz, Bob Heuel, Tiffany Harworth and their significant others.

Jeff Fucito received the 2018 Chairman’s Award from Chairman Gary Bottoms and Greg Morgan was one of 2 recipients of the 2018 Len Gilbert Award. What a fun and memorable night!

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