10 Tips for Navigating Open Enrollment

Beginning each fall, many employers kick off their open enrollment period. This is a time when employees have the opportunity to enroll in — or make changes to — their health insurance benefits. As the open enrollment season approaches, now is an excellent time to review your current health insurance coverage, determine what benefits or funds you have left to use before the close of the coverage year, and consider your insurance needs for the upcoming year.

Basic Information Required

If you are a new benefits enrollee or if you are making changes to your medical coverage, you will need some basic information for the family members you wish to cover. You will need to have Social Security numbers and birthdates of the family members you will be covering. Additionally, if any of your family members are covered by secondary health insurance plans, you will need to have those policy numbers and the name, birth date, and Social Security number of the policyholder.

Current Providers and Medications

To accurately compare your current coverage with the insurance plans you have to choose from during open enrollment, make a list of the names of your current healthcare providers. Include doctors, specialists and hospitals or healthcare systems for each family member to see if they are included in your employer’s benefit plan network. Also, gather a list of regularly-taken medications for each family member – the name and dosage – as well as the name and address of your preferred pharmacy. Knowing your co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs will be key to determining the correct plan for you and your family.

Summary of Benefits

Review the benefit plans’ summary of benefits and comparison tables if more than one option is available to you. Be sure to compare the procedures and medications that are covered, and not covered, by each plan. Also consider each plan’s level of coverage for preventive care, such as annual physicals, mammograms and well-child visits.

Cost Comparison

Estimate how much you can afford to spend on healthcare in a year and compare the premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Then, total what you spent in the previous year on doctor visits and medicine. Remember to list annual or seasonal doctor visits and treatments for chronic conditions like asthma, as well as behavioral health costs for therapy or counseling. If your records are inaccurate, use an online healthcare cost calculator to help you estimate your spending.

Also consider co-insurance costs (for health insurance plans that have separate prescription drug plans), and your annual spending using your medical savings account (MSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). To predict your MSA/FSA spending for the coming year, total your costs for over-the-counter medications, chiropractic care, vitamins/supplements, and alternative medicines and treatments. If your unused MSA/FSA funds don’t roll over, be sure to use them before your spending deadline.

Could you use some assistance making decisions about the costs of healthcare during open enrollment season and how it can impact your other financial needs? An excellent resource is an experienced accountant like those at Donohoo Accounting Services. Schedule a free consultation at 513-528-3982 or email us today.

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What You Need to File Your Business Taxes

What could be difficult about filing this year’s business income tax return?Plenty. Not to worry though, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help! Every business has unique ways to best prepare taxes and you’ll need an accountant to help find all your deductions, but here are some tips about the three kinds of records your accountant will definitely need.

Income/Earnings Records

Because most businesses use electronic means to capture every transaction of the sale of goods or services, income records should be easy – though perhaps voluminous – to collect. Be sure to review your business’s income records, however, to look for any obvious errors such as missing information. Complete income records should include:

• The gross amount of each individual sale,
• Any returns or discounts credited against your business’s income,
• Interest earned from business bank accounts (from your year-end bank statement or Form 1099-INT) and,
• Any other income from non-sales sources.

Documentation of Expenses

Perhaps the most documentation required for your businesses tax filing falls into the category of expenses. You must account for more than a dozen different kinds of expenses on your tax form. These include all employee wages, rent or lease payments (including vehicle leases), insurance, travel, office supplies,and advertising and communications (such as telephone, fax and Internet). Additionally, within these expense categories there are sub-categories. Be sure to consult with a tax professional for a complete list of expense categories to be sure you don’t overlook any potential deductions.

Inventory Details

If your business maintains a physical inventory of goods, you will need to have documentation of your inventory totals at the beginning and end of the year along with its dollar value. As well, be sure you also have records of any inventory purchased over the course of the year. Remember to account for any inventory items that were used for business or personal needs, and the value of any supplies or materials on-hand that were purchased to operate the business. For businesses that track inventory electronically, these records should be easy to access. But again, remember to check – and correct – any errors or irregularities between your inventory records and your actual physical inventory.

The professionals at Donohoo Accounting Services have been helping small businesses file annual tax returns for more than 20 years. For a free consultation, call Donohoo Accounting today at 513-528-3982. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for our latest updates and tips!

Get Your Money in Order for the New Year

This year is quickly coming to a close. Get ahead of the game and get your money in order for the new year. Don’t know where to begin? No worries! Here are some helpful tips.

Get Organized

Organize Concept Metal Letterpress Word in Drawer

You can file taxes after the new year, so now’s a good time to get all your ducks in a row. In January and early February, you’ll be receiving important documents in the mail including your W2, mortgage interest statement (1098), or student loan interest statement (1098-E.)Most companies, by law, have until January 31 to mail statements, so keep an eye out.

Designate a single location where you’ll keep these documents so they are easily accessible when you’re ready to file taxes. You can use a folder, drawer, box or other container. Put a large “taxes” label on it and use the container for tax-related documents only, not other mail or bills. But you may want to keepit near where you sort mail, so you can immediately put the documents in their home.

Then start gathering other items you’ll need for filing taxes, including charitable contributionand expense receipts. Qualified expenses depend on your situation, but could include expenses related to childcare, medical, job (mileage, supplies, relocation) and education. Donohoo Accounting Services can help you navigate the complicated tax structure. In addition to income tax preparation, we handle payroll tax prep, tax levies and liens, back taxes, end tax penalties, estate tax return preparationand more.

Make Year-End Charitable Contributions

Many charities do a final fundraising push at the end of the year, so you’ll probably receive solicitations asking for support. If you want to help non-profit organizations while also possibly reducing your taxable income, make your donations by December 31. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of the yearwill count in that year – even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until later. You’ll want to make sure the charity is eligible. Many times, the charity will note its “501c3” status, which is IRS speak for tax-exempt. You can also use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search.

Take an Assessment of Where You Stand Financially

Magnifying glass showing assessment word on grey background

Now’s a good time to take a hard look at your income, debt, expenses, retirement funds, college and emergency savings. Are you on track to meet financial goals? If yes – great! If no – why are you falling short? To properly move forward into the next year, you need a realistic picture of where you are now. Put pen to paper and write down all the numbers. It helps to see everything in black and white.

Make a Financial New Year’s Resolution (Or Better Yet – Create APlan You’ll Stick With All Year)

Once you know where you stand currently, you can create a plan for the upcoming year. Perhaps you want an emergency savings fund. You never know when the furnace is going to go out, someone in your family has a medical issue or there’s a company layoff. Experts say you should have enough emergency savings to cover three to sixth months of expenses. Maybe you have all your financial bases covered but want to take an exotic vacation? Set the goal, create a plan and start saving for that overseas beach trip. Although it’s a busy holiday season, set aside time to get your money in order for the new year. Once you’re ready to file taxes, turn to Donohoo Accounting Services, locally owned and operated by Cincinnati native, Duane Donohoo.

What Qualifies As A Donation On Your Taxes

The IRS defines a charitable contribution as “a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization.” You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately. Do you know the tips for handling donations on your taxes?

 

You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately.
You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately.

 

Charitable Contributions what Are They?

Donations include property such as vehicles, household items, clothing, land and cash contributions.  You can only deduct the fair market value (FMV) of any property you donate.

How Do You Determine The Fair Market Value?

Fair market value includes donations of noncash property of items like clothes, household items, land and cars additionally stocks may qualify. The FMV comes down to the price the item you are donating and how much it would sell for on the open market.

Do Your Expenses Qualify as a Charitable Tax Deductions?

You can claim a tax deduction for expenses you acquire:

  • To cover a live-in student who is sponsored by a qualified organization.
  • Out of pocket while serving as a volunteer for a qualified organization.

For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.

 

For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.
For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.

 

Which Organizations Qualify to Receive Charitable Contributions?

The government allows the following types of establishments qualified to take tax-deductible donations:

  • Religious (such as churches, mosques, synagogues and temples)
  • Literary
  • Educational (such as nonprofit schools)
  • Charitable (such as American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club of America, Goodwill, Salvation Army and United Way)
  • Those working to prevent cruelty to children or animals
  • Scientific
  • Federal, state and local governments (for contributions intended for public purposes)

These Charitable Contributions Are Not Tax Deductible?

As a general rule, donations to individuals, political organizations and candidates for public office are not tax deductible. The same goes for gifts of money or property given to:

  • Homeowners associations
  • Sports clubs
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Civic leagues
  • Social clubs
  • Labor unions
  • Civic leagues

How Can I Be Sure I’m Donating to a Tax-Exempt Organization?

The easiest way to confirm that you are donating to a tax-exempt organization is to ask the organization directly for proof of their tax-exempt status. You also can search for charities using the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool or confirm tax-exempt status by calling the IRS at (877) 829-5500.

Cash Donations Receipts To Keep

If you donate by check, cash or some other monetary gift, you must provide written communication such as a bank record, payroll deduction records or written acknowledgement from the tax-exempt organization with your tax return. This written proof must include:

  • The name of the organization.
  • The date you made the contribution.
  • The amount of your contribution.

 

The amount of your contribution.
The amount of your contribution.

 

If you still have questions about what is a taxable donation or what constitutes a taxable donation please contact Donohoo Accounting at 513 528 3982.  We specialize in helping small businesses with all you taxable needs.