Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Should your nonprofit have an advisory board?

Your not-for-profit is likely governed by a core group of board members. But the addition of an informal advisory board can bring complementary — and valuable — skills and resources to this group.

Review representation

Look at your general board members’ demographics and collective profile. Does it lack representation from certain groups — particularly relative to the communities that your organization serves? An advisory board offers an opportunity to add diversity to your leadership. Also consider the skills current board members bring to the table. If your board lacks extensive fundraising or grant writing experience, for example, an advisory board can help fill gaps.

Adding advisory board members can also open the door to funding opportunities. If, for example, your nonprofit is considering expanding its geographic presence, it makes sense to find an advisory board member from outside your current area. That person might be connected with business leaders and be able to introduce board members to appropriate people in his or her community.

Waive commitment

The advisory role is a great way to get people involved who can’t necessarily make the time commitment that a regular board position would require. The advisory role also may appeal to recently retired individuals or stay-at-home parents wanting to get involved with a nonprofit on a limited basis.

This also can be an ideal way to “test out” potential board members. If a spot opens on your current board and some of your advisory board members are interested in making a bigger commitment, you’ll have a ready pool of informed individuals from which to choose.

Be candid

Advisory board members likely will be present at board meetings, so it’s important to explain to them the role they’ll play. Advisory board members aren’t involved in the governance of your organization and can’t introduce motions or vote on them.

How you use your advisory board members is up to you. Use them as much, or as little, as you need; just make sure they understand limits to their authority. Contact us for more information.

© 2018

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Individual tax calendar: Important deadlines for the remainder of 2018

While April 15 (April 17 this year) is the main tax deadline on most individual taxpayers’ minds, there are others through the rest of the year that you also need to be aware of. To help you make sure you don’t miss any important 2018 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.

June 15

  • File a 2017 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 2018 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).

September 17

  • Pay the third installment of 2018 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).

October 1

  • If you’re the trustee of a trust or the executor of an estate, file an income tax return for the 2017 calendar year (Form 1041) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic five-and-a-half month extension was filed.

October 15

  • File a 2017 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 2017 to certain retirement plans or establish a SEP for 2017, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.
  • File a 2017 gift tax return (Form 709) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.

December 31

  • Make 2018 contributions to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  • Make 2018 annual exclusion gifts (up to $15,000 per recipient).
  • Incur various expenses that potentially can be claimed as itemized deductions on your 2018 tax return. Examples include charitable donations, medical expenses and property tax payments.

But remember that some types of expenses that were deductible on 2017 returns won’t be deductible on 2018 returns under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, such as unreimbursed work-related expenses, certain professional fees, and investment expenses. In addition, some deductions will be subject to new limits. Finally, with the nearly doubled standard deduction, you may no longer benefit from itemizing deductions.

© 2018

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Fun fact: What’s the connection between the dollar and the Spanish peso?

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

4 steps to boosting positive PR for your nonprofit

For most not-for-profits, there’s no such thing as too much good publicity. If you’re struggling to get enough attention from media outlets, follow these steps:

1. Seize the day. Raise your nonprofit’s profile by putting out news releases regularly rather than just occasionally. A variety of events, such as the addition of a key staff member, an operational milestone, a new grant you’ve received or the kick-off of a fundraising campaign, can warrant a press release.

2. Target the right media. Go beyond simply sending out news releases and become familiar with potential media targets. Focus on outlets that are most likely to use your press releases — for example, local newspapers that have a section devoted to community news. Get to know assignment editors, their key sections and special features, target audiences, and publication and broadcast schedules. By taking the time, you can pinpoint the most suitable outlets for your news.

3. Time your news. When it comes to good publicity, timing can be everything. You might increase your odds of coverage by submitting requests at the start of a new publication cycle. Another tactic is to host an event or release an important announcement on a typically slow news day. For example, daily newspapers and local television stations may be particularly receptive to requests for coverage on Sundays.

4. Make it local. Providing a local angle on an issue of national importance will increase your appeal to the media. Whenever possible, offer an expert source from your organization who can talk knowledgeably about the local impact of a national story. By positioning yourself and your organization as an authority and noting trends and other interesting items, you can grab the attention of reporters and editors. Getting your nonprofit in the news in a positive way broadens its exposure, enhances its credibility and enables you to spread the word about your mission to potential donors — all free of charge. It just takes a little strategic planning on your part.

Getting your nonprofit in the news in a positive way broadens its exposure, enhances its credibility and enables you to spread the word about your mission to potential donors — all free of charge. It just takes a little strategic planning on your part.

© 2018

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Haven’t filed your 2017 income tax return yet? Beware of these pitfalls

The federal income tax filing deadline is slightly later than usual this year — April 17 — but it’s now nearly upon us. So, if you haven’t filed your individual return yet, you may be thinking about an extension. Or you may just be concerned about meeting the deadline in the eyes of the IRS. Whatever you do, don’t get tripped up by one of these potential pitfalls.

Filing for an extension

Filing for an extension allows you to delay filing your return until the applicable extension deadline, which for 2017 individual tax returns is October 15, 2018.

While filing for an extension can provide relief from April 17 deadline stress and avoid failure-to-file penalties, there are some possible pitfalls:

  • If you expect to owe tax, to avoid potential interest and penalties you still must (with a few exceptions) pay any tax due by April 17.
  • If you expect a refund, remember that you’re simply extending the amount of time your money is in the government’s pockets rather than your own. (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.)

Meeting the April 17 deadline

The IRS considers a paper return that’s due April 17 to be timely filed if it’s postmarked by midnight. Sounds straightforward, but here’s a potential pitfall: Let’s say you mail your return with a payment on April 17, 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 can still be hit with both failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties.

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.

Avoiding interest and penalties

Despite the potential pitfalls, filing for an extension can be tax-smart if you’re missing critical documents or you face unexpected life events that prevent you from devoting sufficient time to your return right now. We can help you estimate whether you owe tax and how much you should pay by April 17. Please contact us if you need help or have questions about avoiding interest and penalties.

© 2018

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A Sweet Treat to Keep Up That Tax Season Motivation!

M&J’s Atlanta office hosted an ice cream social last Friday as a fun, little reward for the hard work everyone has been putting into this busy tax season. Shoutout to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream for the festive ice cream toppings bar, complete with a strobe light!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Congratulations to M&J’s Scholarship Recipient at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga

Ethan Howard received M&J’s scholarship at the School of Accountancy’s banquet on Friday, April 6, 2018. Heather Batson, Director at the Chattanooga Office, presented on behalf of M&J.

Ethan Howard is a UTC Brock Scholar and a UTC Provost Scholar. His passion is sports and he is an active volunteer in the MocsVision team during UTC football games and runs the instant replay monitor for both the women’s and men’s basketball teams. He plays intramural baseball at UTC and is very involved with the Dean of the College of Business in recruiting top-notch athletes to consider the College of Business when choosing their major.

Heather Batson & Eathan Howard

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Finding a bookkeeper for your nonprofit

Looking for the perfect bookkeeper is something like looking for an ideal mate. You’ll want to think hard about your organization’s needs before you start searching for, and commit to, the person who’ll handle your day-to-day accounting functions.

Define the role

Before advertising the position, define the role. Crafting a detailed job description that outlines responsibilities will help you attract qualified candidates and give you a consistent yardstick with which to measure them.

Common bookkeeper responsibilities include:

  • Preparing and recording accounts payable, accounts receivable and cash receipts,
  • Tracking expenses,
  • Reconciling bank statements,
  • Posting accounts to the general ledger, and
  • Preparing for year-end financial audits.

If you’ll be relying on your bookkeeper to send donor acknowledgments, order supplies or handle any other clerical duties, spell out those duties in the job description.

Ensure a good fit

Not-for-profits have special bookkeeping challenges that for-profit businesses don’t. At the very least, you want a bookkeeper who understands there are differences, such as accounting for pledges, donated goods and services, and restricted donations. Candidates also must be:

  • Knowledgeable about accounting basics,
  • Willing to learn your organization’s accounting specifics,
  • Attentive to details,
  • Deadline-oriented, and
  • Computer-literate.

Finally, because your bookkeeper will handle cash, financial records and proprietary information, potential hires must be trustworthy and above reproach. Conduct thorough background and credit checks on anyone you’re seriously considering, including following up on any references.

Get what you need

Many organizations hire a bookkeeper because other staff members don’t have the necessary accounting skills. If you’re in that situation, you may wonder how you can judge the accounting acumen of bookkeeper candidates. We can help you define the role and provide advice on hiring the bookkeeper that meets your needs.

© 2018

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

You still have time to make 2017 IRA contributions

Tax-advantaged retirement plans like IRAs allow your money to grow tax-deferred — or, in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free. The deadline for 2017 contributions is April 17, 2018. Deductible contributions will lower your 2017 tax bill, but even nondeductible contributions can be beneficial.

Don’t lose the opportunity

The 2017 limit for total contributions to all IRAs generally is $5,500 ($6,500 if you were age 50 or older on December 31, 2017). But any unused limit can’t be carried forward to make larger contributions in future years.

This means that, once the contribution deadline has passed, the tax-advantaged savings opportunity is lost forever. So to maximize your potential for tax-deferred or tax-free savings, it’s a good idea to use up as much of your annual limit as possible.

3 types of contributions

If you haven’t already maxed out your 2017 IRA contribution limit, consider making one of these types of contributions by April 17:

1. Deductible traditional. With traditional IRAs, account growth is tax-deferred and distributions are subject to income tax. If you and your spouse don’t participate in an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k), the contribution is fully deductible on your 2017 tax return. If you or your spouse does participate in an employer-sponsored plan, your deduction is subject to a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) phaseout:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the phase-out range is specific to each spouse based on whether he or she is a participant in an employer-sponsored plan:
    • For a spouse who participates: $99,000–$119,000.
    • For a spouse who doesn’t participate: $186,000–$196,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers participating in an employer-sponsored plan: $62,000–$72,000.

Taxpayers with MAGIs within the applicable range can deduct a partial contribution; those with MAGIs exceeding the applicable range can’t deduct any IRA contribution.

2. Roth. With Roth IRAs, contributions aren’t deductible, but qualified distributions — including growth — are tax-free. Your ability to contribute, however, is subject to a MAGI-based phaseout:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly: $186,000–$196,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers: $118,000–$133,000.

You can make a partial contribution if your MAGI falls within the applicable range, but no contribution if it exceeds the top of the range.

3. Nondeductible traditional. If your income is too high for you to fully benefit from a deductible traditional or a Roth contribution, you may benefit from a nondeductible contribution to a traditional IRA. The account can still grow tax-deferred, and when you take qualified distributions you’ll be taxed only on the growth.

Alternatively, shortly after contributing, you may be able to convert the account to a Roth IRA with minimal tax liability.

Maximize your tax-advantaged savings

Traditional and Roth IRAs provide a powerful way to save for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis. Contact us to learn more about making 2017 contributions and making the most of IRAs in 2018 and beyond.

© 2018

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

With Tax Season in Full Swing, It’s Time to Recognize Some Hard Earned Promotions!

Congratulations to the following M&J employees and their new titles. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to this firm, and would not be as successful without all of you!

Atlanta
Brenden Adams to Manager
Ben Peterson to Senior
Derek Foster to Senior
Albany
Blair Blackburn to Senior
Cam Tompkins to Senior
Macon
Kirk Arich to Manager
Birmingham
Jamie Cash to Supervisor
Kevin Niethammer to Staff II
Chattanooga 
Chris Policastro to Senior
Columbia
Sarah Landry to Senior