Blog

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Albany’s Christmas Party

Albany’s Christmas party was once again hosted at the beautiful Shackleford House (It’s a tradition).  The staff had a wonderful time celebrating and mingling.  Look at all the fun pictures!

 


Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

A Pie to the Face for the Kids!

M&J Albany employees raised funds to donate to Toys for Tots with a little extra fun wagered in.  The managers in the office agreed to put themselves on the line to encourage more giving.  When a donation was made, a manager’s name was selected.  The manager with the most money in their name had to get pied in the face!  The drive culminated with a happy hour & dinner at Locos on 11/28 with live music provided by Kyle Nichols.

Going into the night, the top three managers were Jay Shirah with $385, Rob Douglas with $310, and Kyle Nichols with $295.  Emily Dent and Aubrie Trotter also had amounts in their names but were unable to attend the event due to work.  As the night went on, more donations were collected.  An early donation of $100 to Rob put him in the lead.  An answering donation to Jay made it a neck and neck race.  The lead went back and forth until the final minutes, when Hays Lacey dropped $100 on Rob to seal his fate, and earn her the right to throw the pie.

After a few failed attempts to sufficiently deliver the pie (due to carrying a toddler that was not impressed by the whole deal), Kyle had to pinch hit and throw the pie for Hays.  After all was said and done, M&J had raised $1,763 for Toys for Tots.  A special thanks goes to Locos for hosting this event and also contributing $400 bringing the total to $2,163.

 


Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

What you need to know about year-end charitable giving in 2017

Charitable giving can be a powerful tax-saving strategy: Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and you have complete control over when and how much you give. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind this year to ensure you receive the tax benefits you desire.

Delivery date

To be deductible on your 2017 return, a charitable donation must be made by Dec. 31, 2017. According to the IRS, a donation generally is “made” at the time of its “unconditional delivery.” But what does this mean? Is it the date you, for example, write a check or make an online gift via your credit card? Or is it the date the charity actually receives the funds — or perhaps the date of the charity’s acknowledgment of your gift?

The delivery date depends in part on what you donate and how you donate it. Here are a few examples for common donations:

Check. The date you mail it.

Credit card. The date you make the charge.

Pay-by-phone account. The date the financial institution pays the amount.

Stock certificate. The date you mail the properly endorsed stock certificate to the charity.

Qualified charity status

To be deductible, a donation also must be made to a “qualified charity” — one that’s eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.

The IRS’s online search tool, Exempt Organizations (EO) Select Check, can help you more easily find out whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. You can access EO Select Check at http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos. Information about organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions is updated monthly.

Potential impact of tax reform

The charitable donation deduction isn’t among the deductions that have been proposed for elimination or reduction under tax reform. In fact, income-based limits on how much can be deducted in a particular year might be expanded, which will benefit higher-income taxpayers who make substantial charitable gifts.

However, for many taxpayers, accelerating into this year donations that they might normally give next year may make sense for a couple of tax-reform-related reasons:

  1. If your tax rate goes down for 2018, then 2017 donations will save you more tax because deductions are more powerful when rates are higher.
  2. If the standard deduction is raised significantly and many itemized deductions are eliminated or reduced, then it may not make sense for you to itemize deductions in 2018, in which case you wouldn’t benefit from charitable donation deduction next year.

Many additional rules apply to the charitable donation deduction, so please contact us if you have questions about the deductibility of a gift you’ve made or are considering making — or the potential impact of tax reform on your charitable giving plans.

© 2017


Monday, December 11th, 2017

Sharing a Little Christmas Cheer!

M&J’s Atlanta office was thrilled to partake in an Angel Tree once again this year! The toys, clothes, bikes and tons of Christmas cheer were gifted to numerous families through Midtown Assistance Center. This event brought so much joy to our office, and we hope it will bring just as much joy to the recipients!


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).

Read the rest of this entry »


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