Recovery Advisory Services is Here for You

We at DBM are proud to be a part of this resilient community. As our community recovers from week-long disruptions from the fire evacuations to power outages, we want you to know that you have us here ready to help you.  

One of the top priorities of the recovery is to file your claims with your insurance companies.  Processing a claim can be a lengthy process if you cannot provide the requested documents and records timely.  Our consulting service team is here to help you facilitate recovery through a wide range of advisory services, such as preparation for insurance claims to calculating loss figures due to the fires/power outages/evacuations. We will translate the terminology and concepts that can be inherently confusing to you and coordinate assembling of the required documentation, in the manner consistent with the insurance carrier’s expectations. Through the same process, we can help you prepare for possible loan and other financing options if necessary.

The assistance we can provide includes but is not limited to the following:

  • For Businesses:
    • Overview of possible applicable insurance coverages with review of the Business Owners insurance policies
    • Help identify decreases in various revenue streams
    • Help identify increases in various costs
    • Help identify alternative business flows to position business owners to “get back into business” as soon as possible, and to lessen further damages for any subsequent event
    • Help develop a business operation plan for future emergency situations
  • For Individuals:
    • Overview of possible applicable insurance coverages with review of the Homeowner’s and Rental insurance policies
    • Help identify decreases in various income/wages sources  
    • Help identify increases in various additional living expenses

Subject Matter Expert: Dominic P. Bosque, CPCU, Director of Management Advisory Services

In addition to providing consulting services for financial service firms for over 35 years, Dominic has extensive knowledge in the insurance service industry. From the claim filing perspective, Dominic has direct experience in supporting businesses recover in post-disaster circumstances here in Sonoma County and across other disaster areas of the country.  From the insurance service providers’ perspective, he has years of experience training claims service professionals improving claims-handling procedures. With these insights of rebuilding, Dominic can successfully enhance a business’s core operational abilities to become stronger and more resilient to meet the next set of future challenges.

Also here are some links to some pertinent websites to help businesses and individuals navigate this process.

Sonoma County Business Recovery Resource Guide

Business Recovery Tools

Residential Property Claims Guide

Wildfire Resources

Top Ten Tips for Wildfire Claimants

Don’t Get Burned after a Disaster

Preparedness for Business

Personal Privacy – More State-Sanctioned Information Available on the Internet

As you’re well aware, personal information is a form of currency. Some people use this information to advertise to you, but others may want to steal your identity or engage in other criminal activities. If you are concerned about personal privacy, it is time to take steps to reduce your risk. The State of California provides personal information on the internet that may give thieves more information about you than ever before.

The California Secretary of State started sharing a PDF image of a business’s “Statement of Information” on 12/15/16.

The Statement of Information is a required filing for corporations doing business in CA. A similar statement of information is required for LLC’s.

The statement requires disclosure of the names and addresses of the principal officers of the entity and the agent who will receive service of process on your behalf. If the form is not filed electronically, it may reveal your actual signature.
What can you do? Consider using your business address or a PO Box rather than your home address on this form. Listing your home address on the form exposes your personal security to scam artists and potential criminals. To see how this data appears, click on the link, below.

https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/

Some companies appoint a corporation as the agent for service of process for limited liability entities so that personal ownership of a business is afforded an additional level of protection. For example, Facebook, Inc. appointed CSC, Corporation Service Company in Sacramento as their agent for service of process.

State of California – Unclaimed Property

The state also maintains a database of unclaimed property. At last report, the state has more than $8,000,000,000 in unclaimed property. Some of it may be yours. This site can be used to locate forgotten assets that have been turned over (escheated) to the state. If left long enough, ownership of the property changes to the State. So…if you’ve forgotten about a bank account, stock, insurance proceeds, safe deposit boxes, etc., the state hopes you won’t try and reclaim it. The state does virtually nothing to help you get your property back and they make it difficult for you to reacquire the property with red tape, etc.

This website is a wealth of information for hackers, identity thieves, and criminals. Unclaimed property can be searched by name, and it generally lists your address.

Check to see if you have some property at: https://ucpi.sco.ca.gov/UCP/Default.aspx

County and other Websites

If you own real estate, or have had lawsuits or liens filed against you, there isn’t much you can do to hide the internet footprint. It is a matter of public record. There may, however, be a process to disguise or obfuscate your personal information.

If you want more information on how to remove yourself from a website, please check with a competent information technology advisor.

Year-end Reporting Tips #2: General Rules for Filing Form 1099s

If your trade or business makes payments to contractors or vendors, it is very likely that you will be required to file Form 1099s.  The following are a list of general rules to keep in mind:

  • A 1099 is only necessary if the total payments for the year are $600 or more
  • In general, corporations do not need to receive a 1099. However, Payments for legal and medical services are reported on 1099s whether or not the entity is incorporated.
  • When using a SSN to report, the 1099 must start with the person’s name. When using an FEIN, the 1099 must start with the entity name.  It’s okay to have additional names on the second line of the 1099, however, the first line must match the ID number.

Year-end Reporting Tips #1: Documenting Independent Contractors and Vendors

In order for tax payers to protect themselves from IRS penalties, it is important to collect a Form W-9 from all workers and vendors.   While not required, it’s highly recommended for two reasons:

  1. The Form W-9 provides proof that the information on an issued 1099 is as represented by the vendor. If the IRS determines that the 1099 is incorrect and imposes a penalty, the W-9 shows that the misinformation came from the vendor and thus shifts the penalty to the vendor.
  1. It is also important to collect the W-9 before any payments are made to the vendor. If the W-9 is not provided, a percentage of the payment, or a backup withholding, must be withheld and remitted to the IRS and FTB.  There are penalties to the tax payer for failure to do the backup withholding.

For more information on how the IRS defines employee versus independent contractor, please review the following summary.

CA Update: HWHFA Requires All Employers to Review their Paid Sick Leave Policies

HWHFA Requires All Employers to Review their Paid Sick Leave Policies

by Hillary Erbert, Associate Accountant

On September 10, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” (HWHFA), which establishes minimum requirements for paid sick leave accrual for most employees who work in California.  This law impacts all employers, regardless of their size or nonprofit status.  Companies that already provide paid sick or personal leave will need to carefully review their policies to ensure they meet all the requirements.

Employee Rights under HWHFA:

  • Employees who work 30 days or more during a year are entitled to accrue paid sick leave. The bill does not define how many hours of work is considered one work day, and the 30 days of work must be with the same employer.
  • The minimum accrual rate is 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • Accrual begins on July 1, 2015 or the date of employment, whichever is later.
  • An employee is eligible to use their paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
  • Sick leave can be requested verbally or in writing.
  • Employees cannot be required to find a replacement as a condition for using sick days.
  • Employees can take paid leave for their own or a family member’s diagnosis, care, or treatment, and for certain preventative treatments.

For example, suppose a small business hired a temporary employee to work part-time for 14 weeks during a peak period of business.  The temporary employee agreed to work 4 hours per day twice a week.  The employee would work a total of 112 hours, accruing 3.7 hours of sick leave from the date they begin working, and potentially be eligible to use the sick leave after the first 90 days of employment (the 90th day of employment would occur during week 13). However, because the employee did not work for 30 days (2 days a week x 14 weeks = 28 days total), they are ineligible to use any of the paid sick leave.

Requirements for Employers:

  • Display a poster on paid sick leave where employees can read it easily.
  • Provide written notice to employees of paid sick leave rights at the time of hire.
  • Provide the minimum amount of paid sick leave described above.
  • Allow eligible employees to use their sick leave upon reasonable request.
  • Show how many days of sick leave an employee has available. This must be on a pay stub or on a document issued the same day as a paycheck.
  • Maintain records going three years back showing how many hours have been earned and used.
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee who reasonably requests paid sick days.

Employer Rights:

  • Employers can limit the amount of paid sick leave that an employee can use in one year to 24 hours.
  • Sick leave can be carried over from year to year, but employers can limit the total sick leave to 48 hours.
  • Employers are not required to pay out unused sick leave when employment ends.

If an employer does not comply with these regulations, they may be subject to fines up to $4,000 per violation.

Feel free to contact our firm if you have specific questions or concerns on how this law will impact your business.

There is additional information and resources on California’s website under the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ab1522.html.

Simplified Process to Gain Small Tax-Exempt Organizations Status

Help for Small Organizations Seeking Tax-Exempt Status

By Penny Millar, CPA, Partner

The IRS released a new, simplified application for organizations seeking tax-exempt status, Form 1023-EZ. Recognizing the backlog of more than 60,000 applications, most of which are small organizations, this new form will greatly speed up the approval process. The original application is 26 pages plus multiple attachments. The new application is only three pages long, consisting of contact information for officers and directors, yes/no questions concerning the organization, and a declaration and signature. There is no need to submit financial information, organization documents, or supplemental information. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible.

The IRS believes as many as 70% of applicants will qualify for the simplified application. The application must be completed online by going to www.irs.gov/form1023. A fee of $400 is due with the application. Prior to submitting the 1023-EZ, all applicants must complete a seven-page questionnaire confirming eligibility for the shortened form. If you answer “Yes” to any of the questions, you are not eligible to apply for exemption using Form 1023-EZ, and you must use Form 1023.

If your organization was properly formed, and you meet the requirements of all non-profit organizations, the shortened application will enable you to receive tax-exempt status in a matter of weeks rather than months.

Alert for Trustees for Trusts with Investments

ALERT TO TRUSTEES OF TRUSTS WITH INVESTMENT INCOME

Application of 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax to Trust Income for 2013

By David P. Dillwood, CPA, Partner

The Affordable Care Act instituted a new 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax on the following types of income:

  • Interest
  • Dividends
  • Capital Gains
  • Passive Income (rental, partnerships, etc.)

For individual taxpayers, the net investment income tax threshold is $250,000 of AGI. For estates and trusts, the threshold is $11,950. Thus, for every trust with trust taxable income over $11,950, the trust will have to pay an additional 3.8% tax, to the extent there is net investment income reported on the 2013 Form 1041 in excess of $11,950.

There is a way to prevent or reduce this new tax. Trusts can reduce their taxable income by making distributions to the beneficiaries. In addition, trusts may include distributions to beneficiaries made within 65 days after the end of their reporting year. There is still time until Thursday March 6, 2014 to make a distribution to beneficiaries and eliminate the net investment income tax that would otherwise be payable by the trust.

If you think this may apply to a trust in which you are either a trustee or a beneficiary, please call us. We would be happy to help you determine how best to solve this problem.