As my team and I have been preparing for this upcoming tax season (which, of course, takes up a significant portion of our time during these holidays), there are a variety of things that are changing for individual tax returns that are due on April 15, 2015.
These are health care tax provisions of the ACA (“Affordable Care Act”), and while most of these relate to individuals, rather than businesses (more about that in a moment), I felt them important to emphasize even to my business owner clients and contacts….
1) Taxpayers will be required to demonstrate that they had health insurance active on January 1, 2014 and have gone no more than three months uninsured in 2014.
2) If taxpayers received a Premium Tax Credit along with their marketplace insurance plan, their income and the size of their household must match up with what was reported during that process. If your income or household size has changed, and you received those credits — PLEASE let a professional help you. (205) 715-4488
3) For businesses: If you have 50 or more FT employees (or a combination of PT/FT equivalent to 50 FT employees) you are required to offer a minimum level of coverage to your staff, or pay a fine.
With all of these things, here’s the bottom line: this is NOT the year to “go it alone” with your tax returns, or with your business’ books. Yes, that is a self-serving statement — and if you don’t use our services, I will be perfectly happy, as long as you are using someone who is good, and who is paying attention as closely as we are.
If you need help or want answers: (205) 715-4488
PLEASE SHARE this information. I don’t need to have the credit, but the information needs to get out there.
(However, I will be addressing more issues related to the ACA and the upcoming tax season in the following weeks and months, so if you are interested in joining my Weekly Notes, you can do so here: http://on.fb.me/1emxZsb )
Speaking of sharing, and getting the word out there … let’s change gears, shall we?
Randall Hancock On ‘Getting Your Name Out’ — The RIGHT Way
“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson
Many small businesses brainlessly ape big corporations with their marketing, by (wrongly) believing that “if these huge companies built their businesses by that kind of marketing, then it surely should work for us.” Build the brand, they say.
The thinking behind that kind of marketing is that you “get your name out there”, and the clients and customers will pour in. “It’s all about word of mouth“, they say.
Well, if you choose to go down this road, far better is real word-of-mouth advertising, and there is a single, basic secret to stimulating a high rate of it. And we can all take a page from the fine folks at Disney….
Word-of-mouth marketing is taught there as “find ways to do what you do so well and so uniquely that your customers cannot resist telling lots of other people about you.” At the Disney Parks, this principle is implemented in the forms of cleanliness and authenticity.
When first-time visitors to Disneyland and Disney World are surveyed and asked what sticks in their mind most about their visit, the overwhelming, number-one answer is the cleanliness of the parks. The number two answer is the authenticity of the environments.
Disney marketing pros understand how this translates into real life. Tom and Sally go back to Peoria and tell their friends, “You can’t believe how clean the parks were.”
Then four more families from Peoria pile into motor homes and bring their family (and their money) to the home of the Mouse.
Because they understand this, the Disney people think of park cleanliness as marketing, not just maintenance. They use this to stimulate referrals.
And any business can also find ways to stimulate referrals, to stimulate word-of-mouth advertising, often by doing things that should be done anyway.
In a retail business, excellence and creativity in the store environment and in customer service are most likely to stimulate referrals. You can identify hundreds of different things to change in the office or store environment, as well as customer communications, which can be directly responsible for developing a very high level of word-of-mouth advertising.
And that will beat “brand-building” every time.
Feel very free forward this article to a Birmingham business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Birmingham families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.
Warmly (and until next week),
Randall M. Hancock CPA, PC