Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

5 strategies for struggling nonprofits

If your not-for-profit is struggling financially, you’ve probably already taken steps to cut costs, such as wage freezes and layoffs. But to keep your organization afloat, you may need to come up with more creative ways to generate operating cash flow. Here are five:

1. Revisit your mission and programs. Perhaps there’s a particular program that isn’t critical to your organization’s mission, yet provides a drain on cash balances and staff resources. Saying good-bye to that program can be difficult — but the reward is freeing up funds for more pertinent programs or administrative necessities. If you can redirect individuals to similar programs offered by other organizations, such changes can be made without a break in service.

2. Examine your investment portfolio. Your nonprofit may have portfolio investments or idle assets that aren’t generating operating income — for example, donated real estate, collections and other nonmarketable holdings. Consider divesting some of these possessions and obtaining the operating funds you need.

3. Review your permanently restricted endowments. Another potential source of operating funds is your organization’s permanently restricted endowment funds. Under the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA), you may be able to spend what was once considered the untouchable original principal (or historical balance) of funds.

Access generally is available when the donor of the original gift is silent about restrictions or hasn’t specified that UPMIFA provisions don’t apply. In some cases, an original condition or restriction may no longer be practicable or possible to achieve. Consult your attorney to learn whether this is an option.

4. Contact the original endowment donor. If UPMIFA provisions don’t open up a potential source of funds, you could take another route by approaching the original donor. Ask the donor to lift all or some of the spending restrictions so you may use a portion of the funds for operating costs.

5. Rely more heavily on board members. Board members usually have a passion for their organization and will do whatever they can to assist. In many cases, board members already have employer backing for your organization, and that company may be willing to step up its financial support. Board members have other community contacts as well. Sometimes all you need to do is ask.

The ideas above, while not all-inclusive, point to cash sources you may need to sustain your organization. For additional help, please contact us.

© 2017

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

House and Senate tax bills head to reconciliation

Sunset sky over the US Capitol building dome in Washington DC.

Early in the morning on December 2, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by a vote of 51 to 49. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version of the tax bill on November 16, and a conference committee of representatives from both houses of Congress is scheduled to begin work on a reconciled final bill this week.

The goal is to get that bill to President Trump’s desk for signature before Christmas, with most of the changes taking effect for 2018. The two bills already agree on many matters, but several notable differences must be resolved.

Where the bills agree

Important individual provisions where the bills are in agreement include the following:

Inflation adjustments. Both bills calculate inflation adjustments, where applicable, using the chained consumer price index. This index will increase tax bracket thresholds, the standard deduction, certain exemptions and other figures at a slower rate than the consumer price index currently used, potentially pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets more quickly.

Personal exemptions and standard deduction. Under current law for 2017, taxpayers can claim a personal exemption of $4,050 each for themselves, their spouses and any dependents. Both tax bills eliminate personal exemptions beginning in 2018. But the bills also nearly double the standard deduction amounts to $12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly (for 2018 with inflation adjustments).


Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Bradenton Supports the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program

The Bradenton office enjoys participating in this program each year, knowing they’re making a difference in a child’s life.  15 “angels” were adopted, ranging in age from newborn to 17 years old.  Bags full of clothes, shoes and toys were collected to assist families in need.

Do you want to get involved? Visit your local Salvation Army’s website to participate.  Click here for a list of locations to adopt an angel or drop off a toy in Manatee County.

Great work Bradenton!

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

7 last-minute tax-saving tips

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but there’s still time to take steps to reduce your 2017 tax liability — you just must act by December 31:

  1. Pay your 2017 property tax bill that’s due in early 2018.
  2. Make your January 1 mortgage payment.
  3. Incur deductible medical expenses (if your deductible medical expenses for the year already exceed the 10% of adjusted gross income floor).
  4. Pay tuition for academic periods that will begin in January, February or March of 2018 (if it will make you eligible for a tax credit on your 2017 return).
  5. Donate to your favorite charities.
  6. Sell investments at a loss to offset capital gains you’ve recognized this year.
  7. Ask your employer if your bonus can be deferred until January.

Many of these strategies could be particularly beneficial if tax reform is signed into law this year that, beginning in 2018, reduces tax rates and limits or eliminates certain deductions (such as property tax, mortgage interest and medical expense deductions — though the Senate bill would actually reduce the medical expense deduction AGI floor to 7.5% for 2017 and 2018, potentially allowing more taxpayers to qualify for the deduction in these years and to enjoy a larger deduction).

Keep in mind, however, that in certain situations these strategies might not make sense. For example, if you’ll be subject to the alternative minimum tax this year or be in a higher tax bracket next year, taking some of these steps could have undesirable results. (Even with tax reform legislation, some taxpayers might find themselves in higher brackets next year.)

If you’re unsure whether these steps are right for you, consult us before taking action.

© 2017

Friday, December 1st, 2017

It’s only December 1st but our Atlanta office is already in the holiday spirit! M&J has “adopted” 50 children for Christmas this year through the Midtown Assistance Center, Inc.! A Christmas tree has been donned with wishlists for children ranging in age from newborn to 17 years old.

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Nonprofits: Get usable results when surveying constituents

To make sound decisions, your not-for-profit’s leadership should periodically survey donors and other constituents. But how do you design a survey to ensure a high response rate and constructive feedback?

Clarify goals

The first step is to define the survey’s purpose. Determine what you want to learn and how you’ll use the data you collect.

If, for example, you’re planning to build a recreation center, ask what activities survey recipients would like to see offered at the new facility. They might give you a wish list of activities, with “swimming” at the top.

But if you already knew swimming was popular and had anticipated this response, your survey results don’t really help your leadership make decisions. Instead, ask more specific questions, such as “What hours and days of the week would you most likely use the pool?” and “How much would you be willing to pay per visit?”

Stay focused and offer incentives

You’ll want to be sharply focused, isolating a single issue or initiative. And keep the survey short. Some experts suggest that, ideally, it should take no longer than five minutes to complete.

Avoid bias and pledge privacy

One of the biggest challenges of survey writing is to draft unbiased questions. Take care not to lead respondents to answers you’d like to hear. Avoid loaded words and strong language, and consider seeking the services of a survey professional to ensure objectivity.

Finally, be sensitive to privacy concerns. Reassure survey recipients that their responses will remain confidential, and honor that promise.

Glad you asked

Getting feedback from constituents on the job you’re doing, or planning to do, is critical to the efficacy of your leaders’ decision making. Contact us for more information.

© 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Even if your income is high, your family may be able to benefit from the 0% long-term capital gains rate

We’re entering the giving season, and if making financial gifts to your loved ones is part of your plans — or if you’d simply like to reduce your capital gains tax — consider giving appreciated stock instead of cash this year. Doing so might allow you to eliminate all federal tax liability on the appreciation, or at least significantly reduce it.

Leveraging lower rates

Investors generally are subject to a 15% tax rate on their long-term capital gains (20% if they’re in the top ordinary income tax bracket of 39.6%). But the long-term capital gains rate is 0% for gain that would be taxed at 10% or 15% based on the taxpayer’s ordinary-income rate.

In addition, taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000 per year ($250,000 for joint filers and $125,000 for married filing separately) may owe the net investment income tax (NIIT). The NIIT equals 3.8% of the lesser of your net investment income or the amount by which your MAGI exceeds the applicable threshold.

If you have loved ones in the 0% bracket, you may be able to take advantage of it by transferring appreciated assets to them. The recipients can then sell the assets at no or a low federal tax cost.

The strategy in action

Faced with a long-term capital gains tax rate of 23.8% (20% for the top tax bracket, plus the 3.8% NIIT), Rick and Sara decide to transfer some appreciated stock to their adult daughter, Maia. Just out of college and making only enough from her entry-level job to leave her with $25,000 in taxable income, Maia falls into the 15% income tax bracket. Therefore, she qualifies for the 0% long-term capital gains rate.

However, the 0% rate applies only to the extent that capital gains “fill up” the gap between Maia’s taxable income and the top end of the 15% bracket. In 2017, the 15% bracket for singles tops out at $37,950.

When Maia sells the stock her parents transferred to her, her capital gains are $20,000. Of that amount $12,950 qualifies for the 0% rate and the remaining $7,050 is taxed at 15%. Maia pays only $1,057.50 of federal tax on the sale vs. the $4,760 her parents would have owed had they sold the stock themselves.

Additional considerations

Before acting, make sure the recipients won’t be subject to the “kiddie tax.” Also consider any gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax consequences.

For more information on transfer taxes, the kiddie tax or capital gains planning, please contact us. We can help you find the strategies that will best achieve your goals.

© 2017

Monday, November 27th, 2017

When does professional association management make sense?

If your new or fast-growing not-for-profit could use an extra pair of experienced hands, an association management company (ACM), with its turnkey infrastructure, might be able to help. AMCs are paid to manage your nonprofit’s business, leaving you to concentrate on its mission.

Business on their mind

Your organization can rely on an AMC for help with recruitment, employee benefits, training and other time-consuming tasks. Most AMCs provide their services based on a flat fee or monthly retainer. Their clients share overhead costs, so you pay only for the services you need. For example, you can contract with an AMC to provide technology and website support rather than hire a full-time IT staffer.

AMCs support an array of nonprofits, including trade associations, professional societies and charitable organizations. Many serve as the organization’s headquarters, providing it significant savings on space and equipment costs.

Assessing needs

Can you use AMC services? Identify your nonprofit’s requirements through an organizational audit. Your board can then decide which needs should be fulfilled by current employees and which could be outsourced to an AMC.

Next, find a vendor. The AMC Institute lists members on its website at It provides other resources as well, in some cases for a fee.

Choose three or four firms based on the types of services they provide, years of experience and cost. Then conduct in-person interviews, paying particular attention to the types of client the AMC serves and whether its culture is similar to your own. Be sure to check references before settling on a firm.

Growing pains

Whether you need help with your new or growing organization or have specific service needs, a professional AMC could be a solution. We can help you conduct an organizational audit to pinpoint which services you might be able to outsource.

© 2017

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Tax reform may cloud individual year-end tax planning strategies

With tax reform proposals winding their way through Congress, year-end tax planning has become infinitely more complex. There’s a great deal of uncertainty over whether and when tax reform will be implemented and which proposals from the bills will make their way into any final legislation that’s signed into law. The good news is that there are steps to take before December 31 that can reduce your 2017 tax liability.

Defer or accelerate deductions?

Ordinarily, the best year-end tax strategies depend on your marginal tax rate this year and next. If you expect your marginal tax rate to remain about the same or decline in 2018, you should consider strategies for deferring income to 2018 and accelerating deductions into 2017.

On the other hand, if you think your marginal rate will go up next year, you may be better off doing the opposite: accelerating income and deferring deductions. That’s because this year’s income would be taxed at a lower rate and next year’s deductions would be more valuable. But keep in mind that, even if your marginal rate will increase next year, you’re probably better off accelerating deductions into 2017 that you believe will be eliminated in 2018. After all, a less valuable deduction this year is better than no deduction at all.


Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Bradenton Office Tailgate

If you recall, the Bradenton office won the office competition at the ES Conference Talent Show this past June with their rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.”  And to celebrate, the office held a “tailgate” party … as good as the real deal (Except for that “getting back to work” thing)!

On the afternoon of November 16th Bradenton enjoyed a catered BBQ lunch with all the fixin’s and somehow managed to save room for the dessert contest.  The staff sampled from over 10 desserts and voted for their favorites. After an anonymous vote, Dianne Kopczynski’s Oreo truffles won by one vote. 2nd runner up was Becky Fingerle’s Golden Graham cookies.  They were all so delicious; great job bakers.

Ron Marshall won the putting contest by making 3 out of 5 putts (one shot stayed in the cup) while Wade Sansbury came in a close 2nd by also making 3 out of 5 putts.

Julie Poole won the team spirit contest with all her USF gear.

It was certainly a fun day in the office. Take a look at the great photos we captured.