Healthcare CPA | Data Security Best Practices

Though most of the attacks making headlines are those aimed at large organizations or political groups, roughly a third of all data security breaches in the last few years have occurred in the health care industry. Of these, employee error caused three times as many breaches as external attacks. In addition, more than half of the businesses who experience a security breach have fewer than 1,000 employees.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all health care providers to take steps to protect the private information of their patients from hackers, thieves, and staff. While no data security system is foolproof, there are some best practices that can help to decrease your risk of an information breach, especially from employee error. Here are some of the best practices you should be enforcing:

  • All computers should be placed where screens are not visible to patients or visitors.
  • Every computer should have an encrypted password for access.
  • All passwords should contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and/or symbols and should be changed regularly.
  • Passwords should never be written down in any place accessible by the public. It is preferable that they not be written down at all.
  • Every staff member must be fully educated about the importance of data security practices, their responsibility to follow these practices, and the potential repercussions for failing to comply.
  • Office computers and internet should not be used to check personal email or visit non-work-related websites.
  • Ensure all firewalls, software, and operating systems are kept up to date.
  • Wireless networks should be shielded from public view.
  • Every computer should have antivirus software installed and kept up to date.
  • Do not access office data remotely from a shared computer or unknown WiFi network.
  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops that have access to any work systems or emails should be password protected in case lost or stolen.
  • All hard copies of patient data should be shredded.
  • All transmitted data should be encrypted.
  • Sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial data, or other private information, should never be sent through email or instant messaging services.
  • Consider purchasing cyber insurance protection.
  • If a breach does occur, take appropriate action immediately. Contact your legal counsel for advice.

Your first and best defense against the theft of sensitive patient information is the integration of data security best practices into your practice policies. Meet with your team to discuss any changes you need to make and your expectations of compliance. Protect yourself, your team, and your patients by working to protect the integrity of your systems.

Accountant Near Me | Guide to Getting Your Finances in Order

Dental Accountant in South Miami

Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. It can be a heart wrenching experience not being able to provide necessities for you loved ones. Americans are swinging in debt with many at no fault of their own. Financial hardships can pop up as fast as the next corner Starbucks. Or some people just overextend themselves. Our society is based upon consumption. Everyday we are blasted with advertisements for objects we are told we want. There’s a new smart phone every year, watches to go with that new phone, expensive sneakers, high-end headphones – these products boost our self-esteem. Make us feel high on the social latter. Buying even can just make us feel good.

Whether you are struck with a financial emergency or overextended yourself there are ways to get back on track. It takes sacrifice but the reward of not worrying about money is well worth it. Here’s a guide to getting back to financial freedom.

Know Your Debt

It easy to just no think about debt. Knowing what you owe and laying it all out is important. Look at it this way, this is the first step to financial freedom – and a lot less stress.

Time for a Budget

Once you know how much debt you have, compare it to what you bring in. After subtracting monthly bill payments how much is remaining? At this point think about how much you are spending on necessary and unnecessary items. Now, look at your bank and credit card statements to see what you are really spending. It may shock you!

Creating a budget spreadsheet is a great way to keep track of spending and keep on task. You will want to include the following items.

  • Net income – your final take home pay after deductions
  • Fixed expenses – these may include rent/mortgage, car payment, and utilities. Regular monthly bills fall into this category.
  • Variable expenses – expenditures which change month to month including but not limited to entertainment, groceries, gas, and clothing.

Reviewing your monthly spending will help you know which expenses can be cut. This will be a difficult process but humans are adaptable. This will not be forever. Don’t be discouraged!

Goals

What are your financial goals? Make a list of short and long-term goals. Reducing or eliminating credit card debt would be a good short-term goal. Saving for your child’s education or your own retirement would be a long-term goal. Remember, some goals may take years to accomplish – in the end it’s worth every penny!

Make a Plan

Review your budget, know your debt, set realistic goals, and then start planning. Your plan should reflect the goals you made and how you will achieve them. Sometimes planning is a task you can tackle on your own. However, depending on your debt to income ration you may need to reach out to a financial planner. There’s no shame in it. In fact, most people should. If you are unable to afford a planner, find yourself a mentor. A friend or relative you can talk to is a great idea.

Helpful Tips

  • Use a savings account – money just sitting in your checking accounting is not gaining interest.
  • Auto-pay your bills – this will help to keep you on track and not get charged late fees.
  • Contribute to your 401K – if you company has one you should do it as most companies match contributions up to a certain percentage. That’s free money.
  • Check your credit score – there are many ways to see your score for free and without hurting your credit. This is a good way to see how your debt is affecting your score and to check for any fraudulent activities.
  • Have emergency savings – once you are back on your feet it’s necessary to have a small amount of money set aside for the unexpected.
  • Adjust your habits – always think before you spend as this is the most helpful advice of all.

Following your plan and stay on target! Please contact us for advice!

Dental CPAs 33143 | Strategies to Boost Profitability

Dental CPAs in South Miami, FL

According to Dr. Charles Blair, DDS, most dental practices are losing between $30,000 and $50,000 in potential profits. How can dental practices maximize return on their services and start to recoup capital? Here are three strategies to boost profits in your practice:

Optimize your Practice

Taking a look at production reports to make sure procedures were coded correctly. This may seem fundamental, but it can save a lot of time and money in the long run. One incorrectly charged procedure can increase costs over the course of a year.

In addition, adding high-dollar procedures to your practice such as endodontics, bleaching, and other cosmetic services can greatly boost your profit. Training dental hygienists in more complex procedures, such as soft-tissue management and bleaching, will also maximize a dental practices’ profitability.

Staff your Practice Well

In order to recruit and hire the best possible candidates, it is worth paying above average wages to experienced people in the field. This avoids employee turnover, which can become costly. A friendly and knowledgeable team will also help with patient retention rates.

Facilities and Equipment

If possible, purchase all your dental and office equipment, rather than leasing it. This avoids a number of issues, including higher retail costs, interest payments, hidden fees, and lease-breaking penalties.

Strive to maximize your office space. If your current patient volume doesn’t allow you to use all your offices, consider subletting either your primary or secondary office space. Also, merging your office with another dentist can help you in fully utilizing your space and also reduces overhead costs.

There are a variety of ways to boost profits and cut costs while owning a practice. To start, think about your services, staff, and office space. Opening a practice can be costly and leave many dentists in debt, especially after finishing school. Contact us today for help on managing your budget and ways to maximize your return on investment.

5975 Sunset Drive, Ste 802
South Miami, FL 33143
(305) 670-0400

CPA for Healthcare | Choosing the Right Business Entity

When you decide to start a business, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is choosing the right business entity. It’s a decision that impacts many things–from the amount of taxes you pay to how much paperwork you have to deal with and what type of personal liability you face.

Forms of Business

The most common forms of business are Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and Corporations (C-Corporations). Federal tax law also recognizes another business form called the S-Corporation. While state law controls the formation of your business, federal tax law controls how your business is taxed.

What to Consider

Businesses fall under one of two federal tax systems:

  1. Taxation of both the entity itself on the income it earns and the owners on dividends or other profit participation the owners receive from the business. C-Corporations fall under this system of federal taxation.
  2. “Pass through” taxation. This type of entity (also called a “flow-through” entity) is not taxed, but its owners are each taxed (more or less) on their proportionate shares of the entity’s income. Pass-through entities include:
    1. Sole Proprietorships
    2. Partnerships, of various types
    3. Limited liability companies (LLCs)
    4. “S-Corporations” (S-Corps), as distinguished from C-corporations (C-Corps)

The first major consideration when choosing a business entity is whether to choose one that has two levels of tax on income or one that is a pass-through entity with only one level directly on the owners.

The second consideration, which has more to do with business considerations rather than tax considerations, is the limitation of liability (protecting your assets from claims of business creditors).

Let’s take a general look at each of the options more closely:

Types of Business Entities

Sole Proprietorships
The most common (and easiest) form of business organization is the sole proprietorship. Defined as any unincorporated business owned entirely by one individual, a sole proprietor can operate any kind of business (full or part-time) as long as it is not a hobby or an investment. In general, the owner is also personally liable for all financial obligations and debts of the business.

Note: If you are the sole member of a domestic limited liability company (LLC), you are not a sole proprietor if you elect to treat the LLC as a corporation.
Types of businesses that operate as sole proprietorships include retail shops, farmers, large companies with employees, home-based businesses and one-person consulting firms.

As a sole proprietor, your net business income or loss is combined with your other income and deductions and taxed at individual rates on your personal tax return. Because sole proprietors do not have taxes withheld from their business income, you may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments if you expect to make a profit. Also, as a sole proprietor, you must also pay self-employment tax on the net income reported.

Partnerships
A partnership is the relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.

There are two types of partnerships: Ordinary partnerships, called “general partnerships,” and limited partnerships that limit liability for some partners but not others. Both general and limited partnerships are treated as pass-through entities under federal tax law, but there are some relatively minor differences in tax treatment between general and limited partners.

For example, general partners must pay self-employment tax on their net earnings from self-employment assigned to them from the partnership. Net earnings from self-employment include an individual’s share, distributed or not, of income or loss from any trade or business carried on by a partnership. Limited partners are subject to self-employment tax only on guaranteed payments, such as professional fees for services rendered.

Partners are not employees of the partnership and do not pay any income tax at the partnership level. Partnerships report income and expenses from its operation and pass the information to the individual partners (hence the pass-through designation).

Because taxes are not withheld from any distributions partners generally need to make quarterly estimated tax payments if they expect to make a profit. Partners must report their share of partnership income even if a distribution is not made. Each partner reports his share of the partnership net profit or loss on his or her personal tax return.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute. Each state is different, so it’s important to check the regulations in the state you plan to do business in. Owners of an LLC are called members, which may include individuals, corporations, other LLCs and foreign entities. Most states also permit “single member” LLCs, i.e. those having only one owner.

Depending on elections made by the LLC and the number of members, the IRS treats an LLC as either a corporation, partnership, or as part of the LLC’s owner’s tax return. A domestic LLC with at least two members is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes unless it elects to be treated as a corporation.

An LLC with only one member is treated as an entity disregarded as separate from its owner for income tax purposes (but as a separate entity for purposes of employment tax and certain excise taxes), unless it elects to be treated as a corporation.

C-Corporations
In forming a corporation, prospective shareholders exchange money, property, or both, for the corporation’s capital stock. A corporation conducts business, realizes net income or loss, pays taxes and distributes profits to shareholders.

A corporate structure is more complex than other business structures. When you form a corporation, you create a separate tax-paying entity. The profit of a corporation is taxed to the corporation when earned and then is taxed to the shareholders when distributed as dividends. This creates a double tax.

The corporation does not get a tax deduction when it distributes dividends to shareholders. Earnings distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends are taxed at individual tax rates on their personal tax returns. Shareholders cannot deduct any loss of the corporation.

If you organize your business as a corporation, generally are not personally liable for the debts of the corporation, although there may be exceptions under state law.

S-Corporations
An S-corporation has the same corporate structure as a standard corporation; however, its owners have elected to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes. Shareholders of S-corporations generally have limited liability.

Generally, an S-Corporation is exempt from federal income tax other than tax on certain capital gains and passive income. It is treated in the same way as a partnership, in that generally taxes are not paid at the corporate level. S-Corporations may be taxed under state tax law as regular corporations, or in some other way.

Shareholders must pay tax on their share of corporate income, regardless of whether it is actually distributed. Flow-through of income and losses is reported on their personal tax returns and they are assessed tax at their individual income tax rates, allowing S-Corporations to avoid double taxation on the corporate income.

To qualify for S-Corporation status, the corporation must meet a number of requirements. Please call if you would like more information about which requirements must be met to form an S-Corporation.

Professional Guidance

When making a decision about which type of business entity to choose each business owner must decide which one best meets his or her needs. One form of business entity is not necessarily better than any other and obtaining the advice of a tax professional is critical. If you need assistance figuring out which business entity is best for your business, don’t hesitate to call.

Apps for Tracking Business Mileage

Every business owner, no matter how small, must keep good records. But whether it’s keeping track of mileage, documenting expenses, or separating personal from business use, keeping up with paperwork is a seemingly never ending job.

No matter how good your intentions are in January, the chances are good that by summer that mileage log is looking a bit empty. Even worse, you could be avoiding tracking your mileage altogether–and missing out on tax deductions and credits that could save your business money at tax time.

The good news is that there are a number of phone applications (apps) that could help you track those pesky business miles. Most of these apps are useful for tracking and reporting expenses, mileage and billable time. They use GPS to track mileage, allow you to track receipts, choose the mileage type (Business, Charitable, Medical, Moving, Personal), and produce formatted reports (IRS compliant HTML and CSV tax return reports) that are easy to generate and share with your CPA, EA, or tax advisor.

Here are three popular apps that help you track your business mileage:

TripLog – Mileage Log Tracker

Works with: Android and iPhone

What it does: Tracks vehicle mileage and locations using GPS

Useful Features:

Automatic start when plugged into power or connected to a Bluetooth device and driving more than five mph
Reads your vehicle’s odometer from OBD-II scan tools
Syncs data between the web service and multiple mobile devices
Supports commercial trucks including per diem allowance, state-by-state mileage for IFTA fuel tax reports, and DEF fuel purchases and gas mileage

Track My Mileage

Works with: Android and iPhone

What it does: Keeps track of mileage for business or personal use

Useful Features:

Provides mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating your automobile
Allows you to group your trips by client
Tracks multiple drivers and vehicles tracking
Localized and translated into more than 20 languages

BizXpenseTracker

Works with: iPhone and iPad

What it does: Tracks mileage, as well as expenses and billable time

Useful Features:

Allows you to choose which way you want to track your mileage
Remembers Frequent trips
Creates reports in PDF format or CSV for importing into Excel
Ability to email your reports and photo receipts

Call the office today if you have any questions about using apps that track business mileage or need help choosing the right one for your business needs.

Keep Track of Miscellaneous Deductions

Miscellaneous deductions such as certain work-related expenses you paid for as an employee can reduce your tax bill, but you must itemize deductions when you file to claim these costs. Many taxpayers claim the standard deduction, but you might pay less tax if you itemize.

Here are some tax tips that may help you reduce your taxes:

Deductions Subject to the Two Percent Limit.
You can deduct most miscellaneous costs only if their sum is more than two percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). These include expenses such as:

  • Unreimbursed employee expenses.
  • Job search costs for a new job in the same line of work.
  • Work clothes and uniforms required for your job, but not suitable for everyday use.
  • Tools for your job.
  • Union dues.
  • Work-related travel and transportation.
  • The cost you paid to prepare your tax return. These fees include the cost you paid for tax preparation software. They also include any fee you paid for e-filing of your return.

Deductions Not Subject to the Limit.
Some deductions are not subject to the two percent limit. They include:

  • Certain casualty and theft losses. In most cases, this rule applies to damaged or stolen property you held for investment. This may include personal property such as works of art, stocks, and bonds.
  • Gambling losses up to the total of your gambling winnings.
  • Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.
  • You claim allowable miscellaneous deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, but keep in mind, however, that there are many expenses that you cannot deduct. For example, you can’t deduct personal living or family expenses.

Need more information about itemizing deductions or help setting up a system to track your itemized deductions? Help is just a phone call away.

Tax Tips for Hobbies that Earn Income

Millions of people enjoy hobbies such as stamp or coin collecting, craft making, and horse breeding, but the IRS may also consider them a source of income. As such, if you engage in a hobby that provides a source of income, you must report that income on your tax return; however, taxpayers (especially business owners) should be aware that the way income from hobbies is reported is different from how you report income from a business. For example, there are special rules and limits for deductions you can claim for a hobby.

Here are five basic tax tips you should know if you get income from your hobby:

 
Business versus Hobby. There are nine factors to consider to determine if you are conducting business or participating in a hobby. Make sure to base your decision on all the facts and circumstances of your situation. To learn more about these nine factors, please call.

Allowable Hobby Deductions. You may be able to deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted for the activity. A necessary expense is one that is helpful or appropriate. Don’t hesitate to call if you need more information about these rules.

Limits on Expenses. As a general rule, you can only deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of your hobby income. If your expenses are more than your income, you have a loss from the activity. You can’t deduct that loss from your other income.

How to Deduct Expenses. You must itemize deductions on your tax return in order to deduct hobby expenses. Your costs may fall into three types of expenses. Special rules apply to each type. Use Schedule A, Itemized Deductions to report these types of expenses.

Use a tax professional. Hobby rules can be complex, but using a tax professional makes filing your tax return easier. If you have any questions about reporting income from a hobby, please call.

Tax Tips for Reporting Gambling Income and Losses

Whether you play the lottery, roll the dice, play cards, or bet on the ponies, all of your gambling winnings are taxable and must be reported on your tax return. If you gamble, these tax tips can help you at tax time next year.

Here’s what you need to know about figuring gambling income and loss:

 
1. Gambling income. Income from gambling includes winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races and casinos. It also includes cash and the fair market value of prizes you receive, such as cars and trips and you must report them on your tax return

2. Payer tax form. If you win, you may receive a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, from the payer. The form reports the amount of your winnings to you and the IRS. The payer issues the form depending on the type of game you played, the amount of winnings, and other factors. You’ll also receive a Form W-2G if the payer withholds federal income tax from your winnings.

3. How to report winnings. You must report all your gambling winnings as income on your federal income tax return. This is true even if you do not receive a Form W-2G. If you’re a casual gambler, report your winnings on the “Other Income” line of your Form 1040, U. S. Individual Income Tax Return.

4. How to deduct losses. You may deduct your gambling losses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The deduction is limited to the amount of your winnings. You must report your winnings as income and claim your allowable losses separately. You cannot reduce your winnings by your losses and report the difference.

5. Keep gambling receipts. You must keep accurate records of your gambling activity. This includes items such as receipts, tickets or statements. You should also keep a diary or log of your gambling activity. Your records should show your winnings separately from your losses.

If you have questions about gambling income and losses, don’t hesitate to call.

What Are Payroll Items in Quickbooks?

Are you considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.

If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you call the office before you get started. While QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, there’s still a lot you need to know.

It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they receive. Federal, state and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse.

A Look Around Payroll Items

 
That said, here is a brief preview of how QuickBooks Payroll Items work. First, make sure that payroll is turned on. Next, open the Edit menu and click Preferences, then click Payroll & Employees | Company Preferences.

payroll-items

Figure 1: The Company Preferences screen in Payroll & Employees Preferences

Under QUICKBOOKS PAYROLL FEATURES, make sure the button in front of Full Payroll is filled in by clicking on it. If you’re interested in exploring Intuit’s online payroll service, someone can tell you about that, as well as advise you on the other options displayed here.

This element of your accounting is complicated enough that QuickBooks has a separate setup tool to guide you through the myriad details you’ll need to provide. You find this tool by going to Employees | Payroll Setup. This is a multi-screen, wizard-like tool that walks you through the process of providing information about employees, compensation, benefits and other additions/deductions, and taxes. Each page poses questions, and you provide answers by entering data and selecting options from drop-down lists. In doing so, you’re creating Payroll Items.

This is a time- and labor-intensive process, one that will send you scrambling for all of the minutiae that make up your payroll system. Once you have your payroll framework established, though, as we said earlier, everything will be in one place and easily accessible.

A Useful List

The information you entered in Payroll Setup is likely to change and need modification. Maybe you forgot to account for something while you were working in the wizard, or perhaps you just want to look up a bit of payroll data. To do any of these, open the Lists menu and click on Payroll Item List.

payroll-setup

Figure 2: You can access this menu from the bottom of the Payroll Item List screen.

The window that opens contains a list of the Payroll Items you created. It looks like a checkbook register, with one line devoted to each item. You’ll be able to view, for example, its Type, any Limit imposed, the Payable To name, and Tax Tracking designations. At the bottom of this list, you’ll see three drop-down menus: Payroll Item, Activities, and Reports. When you click on the down arrow next to Payroll Item you’ll see the menu displayed in the above image.

Warning: There are many options in this menu for altering Payroll Item definitions. QuickBooks allows you to do this, but use caution here. If it involves an action that you are not familiar with, please call the office for assistance.

This is fairly self-explanatory. To Edit or Delete a Payroll Item or make it Inactive, highlight it in the list and click on the correct option. You can also Customize Columns in the table and perform other related tasks. When you click on New Item and select EZ Setup on the next page, this window opens:

payroll-item-type

Figure 3: You can add Payroll Items by working your way through this wizard-like progression of screens.

QuickBooks will help you here by asking questions and building a Payroll Item based on your responses.

There’s much more to know about working with Payroll Items and assigning them to employees. When you’re ready to start processing payroll in QuickBooks, don’t hesitate to call the office for help getting started!