From IRS News:
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters are more common in the summer.? We encourage you to take a few simple steps to protect your tax and financial records in case a disaster strikes.
Here are five tips from the IRS to help you protect your important records:
1.?Backup Records Electronically.? Keep an extra set of electronic records in a safe place away from where you store the originals. You can use an external hard drive, CD or DVD to store the most important records. You can take these with you to keep your copies safe. You may want to store items such as bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies.
2.?Document Valuables.? Take pictures or videotape the contents of your home or place of business. These may help you prove the value of your lost items for insurance claims and casualty loss deductions. Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook, can help you determine your loss if a disaster strikes.
3.?Update Emergency Plans.? Review your emergency plans every year. You may need to update them if your personal or business situation changes.
4.?Get Copies of Tax Returns or Transcripts.? Visit IRS.gov to get Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to replace lost or destroyed tax returns. If you just need information from your return, you can order a transcript online.
5.?Help from the IRS.? The IRS has a Disaster Hotline to help people with tax issues after a disaster. Call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related tax issues.? Or visit their website at IRS.gov and click on the ?Disaster Relief? link in the lower left corner of the home page.
You can also find help with the IRS videos and podcasts:
IRS YouTube Videos:
You can also watch our six minute YouTube presentation of this?article here.
?Are You a Doctorpreneur?”
That’s generally the first question I ask to new clients who own medical and dental practices. While doctors help their patients with some aspect of their health, entrepreneurs run businesses, trying to maximize the long-term profitability of that business.
Whether you own a practice, work at someone else?s practice, or work at a hospital, you need to remember that every healthcare office is a small business that needs to be managed as a business. Nothing that happens within your office should happen by accident. If any aspect of the practice isn?t the absolute best that it can be, you should have a plan in place to address and improve that part of the practice.
One recommendation we routinely make to our practice owner clients is to implement a Simple Incentive Bonus System. For short, we call this SIBS.
For a bonus system to work, it needs to be:
- Easy to understand.
- Attainable, but not automatic.
- Something that the staff members feel they can impact
As an example, SIBS works well with dentists. Most dental practices are staffed by a relatively small team that must work well together for the practice to routinely hit its goals.
- Front desk person ? Fills the doctors? and hygienists? schedules and collects money from patients and insurance companies
- Hygienists ? Validate treatment planning presented to patients. and can also provide additional services which add top line revenue and profits
- Assistants ? Help improve patient flow efficiency
Implementing SIBS is pretty easy. Simply figure out your annual goal, divide that figure by twelve, and that?s the monthly goal. (Obviously this will only work if your practice doesn?t have seasonal fluctuations.)
Any month that you hit the goal, give each team member a $100 bonus. Hit 110% of the goal, and increase the bonus to $200 or $250.
Don?t worry about sharing the practice?s financial information with the staff. If the goal is based on monthly collections, make sure to remind your staff that even though the monthly collection goal seems high, the practice overhead is high as well. Remember, there are staff expenses, occupancy costs, lab fees, dental supplies, debt payments, equipment to buy and maintain, insurance, computer hardware and software, and all sorts of other costs, and then the practice still needs to pay your salary.
You should also periodically adjust the threshold used to calculate the monthly bonus. A good time to adjust the goal is around the time you hand out raises
Here is an example of SIBS. Let?s say that you set your annual collections goal at $900k, so the monthly goal is $75k. You have a meeting, and explain to your staff that any month the practice collects $75k, each team member gets a $100 bonus. And if the practice collects 110% of that goal, or $82.5k, everyone gets $250
You then remind the staff that while the monthly collections seems high, you have a ton of expenses to pay each month, and after paying your salary, there is not a lot of money left over. Trust me, after a few times of telling them this spiel; they will start saying it to you whenever you bring up the monthly collection goal. That’s what happens at my office anyway.
Here are a few suggestions to make SIBS even more effective:
- Don?t lump the bonus check in with the regular payroll that gets directly deposited into each staff member’s bank account.
- Instead, issue a printed check from this bonus, and personally hand this check to each employee. (This will also allow your employee to cash this check and use the money for something special such as going out to dinner and to a movie or shopping for something they’ve been waiting to buy.)
- At that time, thank each team member for their hard work in helping the practice achieve the monthly goal.
Just think how powerful a statement you are making to your staff if you hand them a check for their bonus payment, and personally thank them for helping the practice reach its goal.
As a reminder, you then do need to call this manual check into your payroll service since the income belongs on each employees? W-2.
Like everything else these days, there are a few pitfall of SIBS. For starters, this bonus plan can lose it?s luster over time. So, keep it fresh by changing the focus of the bonus over time. Maybe switch from monthly collections to new patients brought in to re-care efficiency, and then go back to collections. However, no matter what practice variable you use, always make sure to align the goals set within SIBS to the long-term goals of your practice.
You also need to be careful that your staff doesn?t game the system. I saw this at one client where the front desk person stopped depositing checks once the maximum goal was met, and held those checks to deposit the following month. Make sure to tell your staff the bonus will end immediately if anyone tries to beat the system by pulling a stunt like this.
Win-Win With SIBS
We?ve had a lot of practice owner clients implement SIBS, and they often see an immediate increase in collections Plus, the staff at these practices end up making a little extra money too, which keeps them focused on reaching the stated goal each month. Hopefully you?ll realize similar results.
From the IRS Tax Tips News:
If you have a child under age 17, the Child Tax Credit may save you money at tax-time. Here are some facts the IRS wants you to know about the credit.
- Amount.? The non-refundable Child Tax Credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your return.
- Qualifications.? For this credit, a qualifying child must pass seven tests:
1.?Age test.? The child must have been under age 17 at the end of 2012.
2.?Relationship test.? The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister. A child may also be a descendant of any of these individuals, including your grandchild, niece or nephew. You would always treat an adopted child as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
3.?Support test.? The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year.
4.?Dependent test.? You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.
5.?Joint return test.? The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.
6.?Citizenship test.? The child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien.
7.?Residence test.? In most cases, the child must have lived with you for more than half of 2012.
- Limitations.? The Child Tax Credit is?subject to income limitations, and may be reduced or eliminated depending on your filing status and income.
- Additional Child Tax Credit.? If you qualify and get less than the full Child Tax Credit, you could receive a refund even if you owe no tax with the refundable Additional?Child Tax Credit.
- Schedule 8812.? If you qualify to claim the Child Tax Credit make sure to check whether you must complete and attach the new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your return. If you qualify to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, you must complete and attach Schedule 8812.
IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, can provide you with more details. View it online at IRS.gov or request it by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on the IRS website to check if you can claim the credit. The ITA is a resource that can help answer tax law questions.
Additional IRS Resources:
From the IRS Tax Tips News:
If you were married or divorced and changed your name last year, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration before you file your taxes with the IRS. If the name on your tax return doesn?t match SSA records, the IRS will flag it as an error and that may delay your refund.
Here are five tips for a person whose name has changed. They also apply if your dependent?s name has changed.
1.?If you have married and you?re using your new spouse?s last name or you?ve hyphenated your last name, notify the SSA. That way, the IRS computers can match your new name with your Social Security number.
2.?If you were divorced and are now using your former last name, notify the SSA of your name change.
3.?Letting the SSA know about a name change is easy. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office or by mail with proof of your legal name change.
4.?You can get Form SS-5 on the SSA?s website at www.ssa.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local SSA offices. Your new card will have the same number as your former card but will show your new name.
5.?If you adopted your new spouse?s children and their names changed, you’ll need to update their names with SSA too. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of an SSN on the tax return. Form W-7A is available on the IRS.gov website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
From the IRS: New IRS2Go Offers Three More Features
IRS has released a new version of IRS2Go, a smartphone application that lets you interact with the IRS using your mobile device. Three new features are available, providing access to video, news updates and more tax information.
New! Watch Us
IRS2Go delivers video from the IRS YouTube channel to your mobile device. As IRS launches new videos on YouTube, the videos are automatically featured on IRS2Go.
New! Get the Latest News
IRS news is available via IRS2Go as soon as it is released to the public. This feature allows you to learn about new programs, legislative updates and relevant tools to help you navigate taxes and the IRS.
New! Get Your Tax Record
You can request your tax return or account transcript using your smartphone. IRS2Go allows you to request this information, which will be mailed to you within several business days.
Get Your Refund Status
You can check the status of your federal income tax refund using IRS2Go. Simply enter your Social Security Number, which will be masked and encrypted for security purposes, then select your filing status and enter the amount of your anticipated refund from your 2011 tax return. If you e-file your return, you can check your refund status within a few days. If you file a paper tax return, you will need to wait three to four weeks to check your refund status because it takes longer to process a paper return.
Get Tax Updates
You can also use IRS2Go to subscribe to filing season tax updates by entering your e-mail address to automatically get daily tax tips. Tax Tips can help you with your tax planning and preparation needs. They are issued daily during the tax filing season and periodically during the rest of the year. The plain English updates cover topics such as free tax help, child tax credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, education credits and other topics.
Follow the IRS
Finally, you can use IRS2Go to sign up to follow the IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews. IRSnews provides the latest federal tax news, including information about tax law changes and important IRS programs.
Download the IRS2Go App
If you have an Apple iPhone or iTouch, you can download the free IRS2Go app by visiting the iTunes app store. If you have an Android device, you can visit the Android Marketplace to download the free IRS2Go app.
IRS2Go reflects IRS? commitment to help you get the information you need ? whenever you need it, wherever you are. The IRS shares the latest information on tax law changes, initiatives, products and services through various social media channels.