7 Smart Reasons for Your Payroll Clients to Use Time Clocks

time clocks for payrollLooking to enhance your payroll offering? There’s no better way than placing time clocks in your clients’ businesses.

Time clocks are simple to implement; in many cases they integrate with your current payroll software. They also provide an additional revenue stream for your firm, in addition to other benefits we’ll explore in this post.

Benefits of Using a Payroll Time Clock

Here are seven smart, profit-generating and time- and error-saving things you and your clients can do when you implement time clock software in their businesses.

  1. Collect employee data faster — There’s nothing more frustrating to a payroll preparer than waiting for, or chasing down, clients to get what’s needed to process payroll. Time clock applications manage employee changes and hours/time data throughout the pay period in electronic format — much easier than fielding phone calls or emails.
  2. Correct and accurate payroll calculation and reporting — Anytime your team can reduce human error, you’ll spend less time correcting or delaying payroll. Time clocks today are smart devices — they can automatically log out or deduct for meal periods for people who forget to punch in or out, — and technology like data-sharing and use of APIs eliminates double data entry. An automated time system also makes recording hours easier for remote workers, or when employees travel. Depending on the system, reports upload directly into your payroll software, reducing the need for manual entries. The payroll preparer has the benefit of documented client sign-off on the data they submit, and direct import into your payroll application. This eliminates manual data entry and payroll checks are automatically ready for your review.
  3. Re-focus your valuable time on more important business areas — In addition to the peace of mind that comes from knowing you receive approved and accurate payrolls from your clients in a decipherable format, fewer manual entries and corrections means you’ll have more time to focus on other, more valuable areas of your business. (Your client will have more time, too; the only task they’ll have is to review and submit time sheets to you.) In my experience, a manual payroll process takes about 10-15 minutes longer per client per pay period. So if you have 60 payrolls to manage, that’s 15 hours per pay period consumed keying clients’ payroll. What great things could you do for your business with those 15 hours each week?
  4. Develop additional streams of revenue for your business — With such fast and easy payroll calculations, you could easily increase the number of payroll clients without adding additional staff. That means more profits for your business.
  5. Ensure employees are accurately reporting time — With a time clock system, you can set up security parameters to make sure the employee is the one reporting their own hours — and that they’re reporting them accurately. You also have the ability to monitor time in and out, meals, breaks and more. Remember, wages that are overpaid or underpaid can result in liabilities that put your business clients at risk for fraud, with the statute of limitations up to three years.
  6. Comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations and labor laws — ACA requirements have changed in the last few years — and it’s imperative to comply in order to avoid a penalty. A time clock will help you track the number of employees you have and the hours worked, so you’ll know if your clients are reaching the threshold of offering health insurance. You can also track and monitor time to make sure your clients are in compliance with standard labor laws, especially if they employ a minor.
  7. Track time and projects to streamline workflows — Your clients can monitor how many hours are worked, as well as the employee pay rate to make sure they’re on budget with their payroll costs. Your clients can see time off entered by employees and monitor, approve or deny a request. The client also has the ability to create and assign a client task or project to an employee, to know where their time is being spent. And it’s helpful for employees, too. They can request time off, and see the details of a project including what tasks need to be completed.

As you can see, a time clock system will not only save your firm and your clients time and money, it will help reduce input errors and even give your clients’ employees peace of mind that they’re being paid for their time accurately.

Favorable U.S. tax ruling gives limited boost to big-box retailers

US Tax Ruling Limits Big-Box RetailersComplying with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that forces online retailers to collect sales tax just like their brick-and-mortar counterparts will be a heavy burden for smaller e-commerce businesses.

But the ruling may not be a big blow to Amazon.com Inc , which already collects sales tax on items it sells directly to consumers, nor will it bring much advantage to large chains like Walmart Inc, Target Corp and other retailers with brick and mortar stores.

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed states to make online retailers collect sales tax, siding against e-commerce companies like Wayfair Inc and Overstock.com Inc in their high-profile fight with South Dakota.

Before the ruling only retailers with stores had to collect sales tax while e-commerce retailers could skip collecting them, which helped them lower prices.

Thursday’s ruling comes after President Donald Trump’s criticism of Amazon.com Inc on issues including taxes.

The judgement levels the playing field between online and physical retailers and offers relief for U.S. states looking for additional revenue.    Some tax experts said the ruling could turn out to be almost as significant for American businesses as the recent rewrite of the U.S. federal tax code.

But for large retail chains that operate stores, the benefits are likely to be limited, according to tax and retail consultants.    “I don’t see brick and mortar stores seeing a big benefit from this ruling vis-a-vis their key online competitors,” said Brian Kirkell, a principal at RSM that offers audit, tax and consultancy services to businesses including retailers.

“Large online retailers who compete with the likes of Walmart and Target have already been collecting and remitting sales tax for some time now because they saw the writing on the wall.”

For example, Amazon collect sales tax on sales from its own inventory and on a portion of sales by third-party merchants who use its platform.

The point is further reinforced by analysts like the ones from Baird Equity Research who said they expected a “limited impact on Amazon” from the ruling which means less upside for its rivals.

Even the likes of Wayfair said it collects and remit sales tax on approximately 80 percent of its orders in the United States while Overstock.com said the decision will have no appreciable impact on its business.    Deborah White, the general counsel of the Retail Industry Leader’s Association, which led the fight on behalf of big retailers for a level playing field, said the “decision is not going to be a panacea for how retail operates,” but expects it to put an end to the competitive disadvantage suffered by retail stores when consumers visit them but opt to buy online.

Consultants like Mark Grinis, partner, global real estate at EY, said he did not expect a surge in demand for stores even if prices ticked up for online businesses.

“Online retailers still have a lot of pricing power because their overhead costs are low and that would make it hard for those with stores to benefit substantially.” What would further complicate outsized gains from the ruling is a growing culture of convenience that comes with online shopping, traders and investors said.

“If this had come out 10 years ago, it would be a bigger factor than it is today,” said Mark Kepner, an equity trader at Themis Trading. “The internet is ingrained as part of commerce today. It’s not changing any time soon.”


While the decision does not significantly change the fortunes of big chains or e-commerce retailers, the impact from the decision is likely to be felt by smaller online businesses.

These small retailers will be less impacted by an uptick in prices as they will be able to pass that on to the consumer.

But the cost increase for them will come in the form of a heavy compliance burden trying to navigate the more than 10,000 tax jurisdictions in the U.S. as 45 of the 50 states impose sales taxes on purchases that range between 4.5 percent to 10 percent.

They will have to examine and retrofit operations to determine where they have to collect tax, whether their goods are taxable, and how they will handle tax computation, filing, and remittance, consultants said.

“We are talking about middle-market businesses that have a CFO and maybe no tax department and that rely on an accounting firm to be their tax department,” RSM’s Kirkell said.

The chief executive of a medium-sized sporting goods company based in San Diego, who did not wish to be identified to avoid making his company a target for state tax collectors, said it was unreasonable to expect small and medium sized businesses to deal with thousands of jurisdictions.

“I think the bigger worry though for businesses here is if these states will come back for back taxes,” he said.

International Tax Institute Discusses Group Financing Following U.S. Tax Reform

On June 11, 2018, the International Tax Institute (ITI) held a session on “Tax Reform Issues Related to Group Financing – 163j, 267A, BEAT and GILTI Issues.” The speakers included James Tobin, Senior Tax Partner at EY and Kevin Glenn, Tax Partner at King & Spalding.

The discussion focused on current financing structures for inbound and outbound transactions, and the impact that the international provisions of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will have on these structures.

Outbound structuring

In a typical outbound structure, the U.S. Parent holds various controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) (i.e., “Fincos,” “Holdcos,” “Opcos”). CFC Fincos are generally located in low-tax jurisdictions. CFC Holdcos and Opcos are generally located in high-tax jurisdictions. Fincos loan money to Holdcos and Opcos. As a result, the Holdcos and Opcos deduct the interest expense at a higher rate, while the Fincos are taxed on the interest income at a lower rate.

The TCJA introduced the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) provision. Under this provision, U.S. shareholders of CFCs must include GILTI in gross income for the taxable year. See section 951A. For the relevant taxable year, GILTI is defined as the excess of the U.S. shareholder’s net CFC tested income over its net deemed tangible income return (i.e., excess of 10% of the aggregate pro rata share of tangible assets of each CFC over interest expense).

Under the GILTI calculation, a higher interest expense leads to a higher GILTI inclusion for the U.S. shareholder. Therefore, U.S. MNEs should be mindful of structures where CFCs are deducting interest expense at a high tax rate. In addition, taxpayers are prohibited from carrying back or forward any foreign taxes paid or accrued on GILTI. (See section 904(c)).

Under section 245A, the U.S. provides a 100% dividends-received deduction (DRD) on distributions from a CFC to its U.S. shareholder. Section 245A(e)(1) disallows the deduction where the CFC distributes a “hybrid dividend” (i.e., where the CFC received a deduction (or other tax benefit). A situation where this may arise is when a Luxembourg holding company (e.g., CFC) is funded by Convertible Preferred Equity Certificates (CPECs). CPECs are hybrid instruments that are typically treated as debt in Luxembourg and as equity in the U.S.

Section 267A disallows a deduction for any interest or royalty paid or accrued to a related party if the amount is not included in the related party’s income in the foreign jurisdiction, or if the related party can take a deduction in the foreign jurisdiction. See BEPS Action 2. An exception arises where the payment is included in the U.S. shareholder’s gross income under section 951(a). Section 267A(e) grants Treasury broad regulatory authority, and taxpayers should consider the possibility of a retroactive effective date of future regulations.

One benefit of the tax reform is that U.S. corporate taxpayers can take advantage of the reduced corporate tax rate of 21% on Subpart F income.

Inbound structuring

A typical inbound structure has a Foreign Parent holding U.S. and foreign subsidiaries. A foreign Finco subsidiary may loan money to the U.S. subsidiary, which pays interest expense to Finco. With the addition by the TCJA of the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT), the taxpayer may need to consider whether these deductible payments are “base erosion payments” under section 59A(d) (e.g., deductible amount paid or accrued by the taxpayer to a foreign related party). For purposes of calculating the base erosion minimum tax amount, deductions for base erosion payments are added back to determine the modified taxable income.

Taxpayers also need to consider the limitation on deductions for business interest under section 163(j). Deductions cannot exceed the sum of: (1) business interest income; (2) 30 percent of adjusted taxable income (ATI); and (3) floor plan financing interest. This limitation applies to business interest on related and third-party debt. For taxable years beginning prior to January 1, 2022, ATI is computed without regard to any deduction allowable for depreciation, amortization, or depletion. This is in line with other countries, as well as BEPS Action 4, which recommends a limitation on net deductions for interest, and payments economically equivalent to interest, of 10% – 30% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). For taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, the U.S. will switch to EBIT, which penalizes its taxpayers compared to the rest of the world. It remains to be see whether future Treasury Regulations will be retroactive.

Click here for more information on our BEPS research and technology solutions to address your immediate and ongoing needs.

New Jersey Enacts Shared Responsibility Payment for Tax Payers

The New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act, replaces the shared responsibility payment established by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has been repealed for tax years beginning after 2018, with its own very similar shared responsibility payment. (​ L. 2018, A3380​, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.)

Under pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) law, for each tax year, the shared responsibility payment (penalty) imposed by ​IRC § 5000A​ was the lesser of (a) the sum of the monthly penalty amounts, or (b) the sum of the monthly national average bronze plan premiums for the shared responsibility family plan. The monthly penalty amount for any taxpayer for any month during which a failure occurred was equal to 1/12 of the greater of the flat dollar amount or the excess income amount. The flat dollar amount was generally equal to the lesser of (1) the sum of the applicable dollar amounts for all individuals included in the taxpayer’s shared responsibility family, or (2) 300% of the applicable dollar amount for the calendar year the tax year ends. The applicable dollar amount for the 2017 tax year was $695 for adults and $347.50 for persons under age 18. The excess income amount was the product of the excess of the taxpayer’s household income over the taxpayer’s applicable filing threshold multiplied by 2.5%.  For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019, the TCJA eliminated the shared responsibility payment for individuals.

The amount of the New Jersey shared responsibility tax is the same as the above pre-TCJA federal rules except that instead of the sum of the national average bronze plan premiums, the the New Jersey average premium for qualified health plans which provide a bronze-level of coverage is used.

The law requires the State Treasurer to establish a program for determining whether to certify that an individual is entitled to an exemption from either the individual responsibility requirement or the shared responsibility tax by reason of religious conscience or hardship. The threshold to qualify for a hardship exemption is determined based on an individual’s required contribution for health insurance coverage under the ACA as it was in effect on December 15, 2017, i.e., prior to the TCJA. For the 2017 tax year, the instructions to Form 8965 (Health Coverage Exemptions)  state that coverage was unaffordable if the cost of the coverage exceeded 8.16% of the taxpayer’s household income. Thus, if coverage cost even $1 more than 8.16% of the taxpayer’s household income, the shared responsibility payment rules did not apply.

The law requires the State Treasurer to determine the income threshold for minimum essential coverage to be considered unaffordable. The shared responsibility tax is not imposed for any month during a calendar year if the taxpayer’s gross income is below the state minimum taxable threshold. If a taxpayer is subject to the state shared responsibility tax and the federal penalty, the taxpayer is allowed a credit against the taxpayer’s state gross income tax obligation for that taxable year, in the amount of the taxpayer’s federal penalty payment, but not to exceed the amount of the taxpayer’s state tax imposed by the bill in the taxable year. For purposes of administering the tax, the bill requires applicable entities, including employers, insurers, and the Department of Human Services (with respect to the Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare programs), that provide minimum essential coverage to an individual during a calendar year to submit a return to the State Treasurer with information about individuals and their coverage. To minimize the reporting burden, the return may also be in the form of a return required under the pre-TCJA ACA. Finally, the bill requires the State Treasurer, in consultation with the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, to send a notification containing information on the services available to obtain minimum essential coverage to each gross income taxpayer who files a gross income tax return indicating that the taxpayer or one of their dependents is not enrolled in what is classified as minimum essential coverage.

The shared responsibility payment will not be applicable for any tax year in which the premium tax credit is repealed.

3 things you need to know about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

On December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law. This law provides sweeping changes to the tax landscape in the United States and has had taxpayers and accountants alike analyzing and discussing what this new law means for their personal tax position and the positions of their clients. Below are three significant ways the law will impact individual taxpayers.

Tax Rates, Standard Deductions, and Personal Exemptions

By now, it’s common knowledge that the TCJA has nearly doubled the standard deduction. On the surface, this is great news; however, the offset to this is that the personal exemptions enjoyed by taxpayers have now been set to zero. This is still great news for some taxpayers, as the increase in the standard deduction more than offsets the loss of personal exemptions. The situation may not be as positive for some families who were able to claim several exemptions under prior law.

The TCJA also changes the tax brackets. From 2018 to 2025, the tax brackets will range from 10% to 37% (down from 39.6% under prior law), with most tax brackets enjoying a lower tax rate than under prior law. This will help to offset the loss of personal exemptions for taxpayers who did not come out ahead from that change.

Itemized Deductions

With the increase in the standard deduction, fewer taxpayers are expected to itemize beginning in 2018. Those who do continue to itemize should be aware of a new limitation on home mortgage interest deductions. Under the new law, taxpayers are allowed to claim an itemized deduction for qualified interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt ($375,000 if you are married filing separately). This is down from $1 million under prior law ($500,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). This change does not impact any home purchased or under binding contract before December 16, 2017.

Another common itemized deduction is for charitable donations. Prior law limited deductions for charities to 50% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The TCJA increases that limit to 60%. However, under the new law, if a donation entitles you to receive (directly or indirectly) the right to buy tickets to college athletic events, a charitable deduction will not be permitted. While many provisions of the TCJA are slated to sunset in 2025, the change for athletic events is permanent.

Alternative Minimum Tax

Prior to the issuance of the final law, there had been speculation that the alternative minimum tax (AMT) would be repealed. Although the AMT was repealed for corporations, individuals may still be subject to it. While the AMT may still be around for individuals, between 2018 and 2025 the AMT exemptions are significantly higher than they were under prior law. As a result, far fewer taxpayers should find themselves subject to the AMT. The AMT exemption for 2018 is $70,300 for unmarried individuals and $109,400 for married individuals who file a joint return. Under the TCJA, the exemptions will not begin to phase out until unmarried taxpayers reach alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) of $500,000 or joint filers reach AMTI of $1,000,000. This is in sharp contrast to the 2017 phase outs of $120,700 for individuals and $160,900 for joint filers.

How Will the New Republican Tax Bill Affect You?

Recently, the New York Times released an article discussing how the new Republican Tax Bill will cut taxes for roughly 75 percent of filers. The final plan is different than previous plans were for individuals, but there is a lot of variation as to how the bill will affect families across the country. For example, how families earned their money, if they made sizable donations to charity or various other factors can affect how they will be impacted by the new bill.

The new bill also expands the standard deduction. For individuals, the new standard deduction will be $12,000; while the standard deduction for families will be $24,000. It is expected that more people will take the standard deduction with the expansion. If you chose to take the standard deduction, you will no longer be able to deduct charitable donations, mortgage interest and state and local taxes from your tax bill.

The new bill for 2018 will also lower the top marginal rate, expand the child income tax credit, allow $10,000 in state and local taxes to be deducted and raise the exemption for the alternative minimum tax, so fewer people will pay it.

When it comes to seeing how the new bill will affect you, the use of the financial calculator can be extremely helpful. The step by step approach allows you to plug in your information so you can have an idea of what to expect when tax season rolls around. The financial calculator will not be able to predict changes in the economy or how people’s behavior may change in response to the new bill.

As far as the changes to the tax code with the new bill, most of them will expire after 2025. This will cause a tax increase for most families after this point. Republicans are claiming that they will not allow these provisions to expire, but predicting what will happen almost a decade from now is challenging.

SD Associates also offers numerous financial calculators to help determine how to plan for any of life’s financial decisions. To take advantage of the numerous financial calculators SD Associates offer, visit our website today so you can get a head start on tax season.

End of the Year Tax Tips for Individuals and Businesses

With the most comprehensive tax reform we have seen in years right around the corner, tax planning is a priority. As the year is winding down, we at SD Associates P.C. want to remind our clients and business owners of several tips you can do now, to help maximize your tax refund and minimize the taxes you may owe in the upcoming year.

    1. Tax deductions – A smart and generous way to lower your tax bill is by increasing your deductions before the year ends.  Tax-deductible charitable contributions can help reduce your taxable income. Contributing appreciated securities has multiple benefits: you receive a tax deduction for making the gift, and avoid a future capital gain tax liability from your investments. The charitable organization gets the same benefit and doesn’t owe taxes upon receipt or sale of the shares.


    1. Reduce taxable income through pre-tax contributions to a company retirement plan, self-employed retirement account or IRA.


    1. Defer your income – Does your employer provide an end of the year or holiday bonus? If so, you can potentially defer additional income in 2017 by taking the bonus in 2018.


    1. Minimizing capital gains and realizing investment losses can help reduce your tax burden. Be sure to review any personally managed investment accounts. If you sell a security at a loss, you can’t re-purchase the same or any “substantially identical” investment for 30 days, or you risk triggering a wash sale and foregoing the loss.


    1. Other deductions that are good options to pull into 2017 include estimated state and local income taxes due January 15 and property taxes due early next year. There are two important points to keep in mind. First, pulling deductions into 2017 can be a big mistake if you are impacted by the alternative minimum tax. Second, if a new tax bill passes and eliminates some or all of the itemized deductions, then this might be your last chance to benefit by accelerating them into 2017.


  1. The IRS warns taxpayers about the dangers of identity theft and fraudulent returns. It’s still important to be vigilant and take every opportunity to protect your personal information.


Whether you are a business owner or an individual, saving money is always important. At SD Associates P.C., we partner with our clients to ensure that we are always saving you money and educating you on ways to help your bottom line.  We are a full-service CPA and business advisory firm in Montgomery County, serving clients in Philadelphia and neighboring counties (Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Delaware County). For more information on our services contact SD Associates P.C. today at www.sdaccounting.com or call 215-517-5600.

Could captive insurance reduce health care costs and save your business taxes?

If your business offers health insurance benefits to employees, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a climb in premium costs in recent years — perhaps a dramatic one. To meet the challenge of rising costs, some employers are opting for a creative alternative to traditional health insurance known as “captive insurance.” A captive insurance company generally is wholly owned and controlled by the employer. So it’s essentially like forming your own insurance company. And it provides tax advantages, too.

Benefits abound

Potential benefits of forming a captive insurance company include:

  • Stabilized or lower premiums,
  • More control over claims,
  • Lower administrative costs, and
  • Access to certain types of coverage that are unavailable or too expensive on the commercial health insurance market.

You can customize your coverage package and charge premiums that more accurately reflect your business’s true loss exposure.

Another big benefit is that you can participate in the captive’s underwriting profits and investment income. When you pay commercial health insurance premiums, a big chunk of your payment goes toward the insurer’s underwriting profit. But when you form a captive, you retain this profit through the captive.

Also, your business can enjoy investment and cash flow benefits by investing premiums yourself instead of paying them to a commercial insurer.

Tax impact

A captive insurance company may also save you tax dollars. For example, premiums paid to a captive are tax-deductible and the captive can deduct most of its loss reserves. To qualify for federal income tax purposes, a captive must meet several criteria. These include properly priced premiums based on actuarial and underwriting considerations and a sufficient level of risk distribution as determined by the IRS.

Recent U.S. Tax Court rulings have determined that risk distribution exists if there’s a large enough pool of unrelated risks — or, in other words, if risk is spread over a sufficient number of employees. This is true regardless of how many entities are involved.

Additional tax benefits may be available if your captive qualifies as a “microcaptive” (a captive with $2.2 million or less in premiums that meets certain additional tests): You may elect to exclude premiums from income and pay taxes only on net investment income. Be aware, however, that you’ll lose certain deductions with this election.

Also keep in mind that there are some potential drawbacks to forming a captive insurance company. Contact us to learn more about the tax treatment and other pros and cons of captive insurance. We can help you determine whether this alternative may be right for your business.

2018 Q1 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2018. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements. January 31 File 2017 Forms W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees. Provide copies of 2017 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required. File 2017 Forms 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation payments in Box 7 with the IRS. File Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return,” for 2017. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it’s more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 12 to file the return. File Form 941, “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,” to report Medicare, Social Security and income taxes withheld in the fourth quarter of 2017. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 12 to file the return. (Employers that have an estimated annual employment tax liability of $1,000 or less may be eligible to file Form 944,“Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return.”) File Form 945, “Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax,” for 2017 to report income tax withheld on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on accounts such as pensions, annuities and IRAs. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 12 to file the return. February 28 File 2017 Forms 1099-MISC with the IRS if 1) they’re not required to be filed earlier and 2) you’re filing paper copies. (Otherwise, the filing deadline is April 2.) March 15 If a calendar-year partnership or S corporation, file or extend your 2017 tax return and pay any tax due. If the return isn’t extended, this is also the last day to make 2017 contributions to pension and profit-sharing plans.

Accelerate your retirement savings with a cash balance plan

Business owners may not be able to set aside as much as they’d like in tax-advantaged retirement plans. Typically, they’re older and more highly compensated than their employees, but restrictions on contributions to 401(k) and profit-sharing plans can hamper retirement-planning efforts. One solution may be a cash balance plan. Defined benefit plan with a twist The two most popular qualified retirement plans — 401(k) and profit-sharing plans — are defined contribution plans. These plans specify the amount that goes into an employee’s retirement account today, typically a percentage of compensation or a specific dollar amount. In contrast, a cash balance plan is a defined benefit plan, which specifies the amount a participant will receive in retirement. But unlike traditional defined benefit plans, such as pensions, cash balance plans express those benefits in the form of a 401(k)-style account balance, rather than a formula tied to years of service and salary history. The plan allocates annual “pay credits” and “interest credits” to hypothetical employee accounts. This allows participants to earn benefits more uniformly over their careers, and provides a clearer picture of benefits than a traditional pension plan. Greater savings for owners A cash balance plan offers significant advantages for business owners — particularly those who are behind on their retirement saving and whose employees are younger and lower-paid. In 2017, the IRS limits employer contributions and employee deferrals to defined contribution plans to $54,000 ($60,000 for employees age 50 or older). And nondiscrimination rules, which prevent a plan from unfairly favoring highly compensated employees (HCEs), can reduce an owner’s contributions even further. But cash balance plans aren’t bound by these limits. Instead, as defined benefit plans, they’re subject to a cap on annual benefit payouts in retirement (currently, $216,000), and the nondiscrimination rules require that only benefits for HCEs and non-HCEs be comparable. Contributions may be as high as necessary to fund those benefits. Therefore, a company may make sizable contributions on behalf of owner/employees approaching retirement (often as much as three or four times defined contribution limits), and relatively smaller contributions on behalf of younger, lower-paid employees. There are some potential risks. The most notable one is that, unlike with profit-sharing plans, you can’t reduce or suspend contributions during difficult years. So, before implementing a cash balance plan, it’s critical to ensure that your company’s cash flow will be steady enough to meet its funding obligations. Right for you? Although cash balance plans can be more expensive than defined contribution plans, they’re a great way to turbocharge your retirement savings. We can help you decide whether one might be right for you. © 2017