The Portal – Why You Should Choose It

Paper, portal, or both? If you’ve been a client of Alfano & Company for some time or even if you’ve just begun to benefit from our services, it’s likely that you’ve had to answer that question prior to receiving your completed tax returns. But really, what’s the best option?

What is the Portal?

Although it sounds like something taken straight out of a sci-fi film, it’s not a secret doorway leading to an alternate dimension. It’s actually much more useful than that!

In short, the Portal is a secure file sharing website which our clients can access through alfanocpa.com.  Our portal offers tax preparers and clients a convenient-secure way to view documents, transfer data (like forms and notices), and convey information with a file exchange feature. Once your tax return is completed we will uploaded it to the Portal. Clients can log in and view or download their tax returns 24/7!

http://video.tax.thomsonreuters.com/watch/ECjGTTswuqYZXjecEa1KJW

Why should you choose the Portal?

Many benefits come with choosing the Portal option, but here are just a few:

  • You can access the return as soon as it’s ready, instead of waiting until our office is open.
  • You can access the Portal from home or work, without needing to drive to our office.
  • If you need your tax return at a later date (for example, if you will be required to provide it to a bank for a mortgage) you don’t have to make copies of the only paper copy you received – you can simply print as many copies as you’d like from the Portal. Or send a secure copy to your banker.
  • Gone are the days you’d need to stop by our office to drop off your 8879! Now you can easily and quickly upload it to the file exchange section.
  • There is NO ADDITIONAL FEE! (If you select either the Paper or Both option there is an additional $25 fee due to the process of printing and assembling paper copies of each tax return.)

Undoubtedly you may hesitate at the idea of sending your tax and financial documents to some kind of cloud because there’s no guarantee your information will be safe. However, sending and receiving documents or tax returns through the portal is much safer than sending this information via email! You can be assured that “your information and data are secured in a network of data centers that are among the most advanced and secure in the world” (thomsonreuters.com).

Set up is easy too! If you’d like to start using the portal for your 2017 tax return, contact us! We’ll guide you through the simple process of setting up the portal and uploading your documents in no time!

Client Spotlight: Villa Nuova

Where would you like to see your business in the future?

Thriving? Connecting to the local community? Expanding?

At Alfano & Company, we understand the need for financial advisory support to assist entrepreneurs in not only achieving present goals, but also in strategically setting future goals, destined for success. One such entrepreneur is Orlando Fernandes, owner and operator of one of our favorite lunch spots, Villa Nuova.

From Small Beginnings to a Big Future

Orlando’s love for all things culinary began during his youth. He certainly feels at home at the deli since his father owned an eater during his childhood; he sums this up by simply saying, he was “born in the deli.”  As a young man, he worked with a Sicilian family at their restaurant where he gained most of his knowledge about the culinary arts and restaurant management. Undoubtedly, Orlando’s early exposure to the restaurant industry inspired him to begin his own business venture with Villa Nuova.

Villa Nuova opened its doors in November of 2005 in Cos Cob Connecticut. Today, this neighborhood deli with Italian pizzaz is busier than ever! Seeing once hungry customers leave well-fed and satisfied is a tell-tale sign of success in the restaurant industry. This, of course, brings Orlando great pride! As previously mentioned, Villa Nuova is an Alfano & Company Team favorite! Whether we’re craving a hot panini or a gourmet sandwich, we truly savor this little taste of Italy. But what if you have guests to feed? Villa Nuova also provides excellent catering services!

What does Orlando believe contributes to his success? As an Alfano & Company client, he feels he’s been “directed in the right direction [to] make right decisions” with regards to running his business. We provide Villa Nuova with bookkeeping, tax, and advisory services to ensure Orlando spends more time doing what he loves while running his business. Furthermore, during regular business advisory sessions, our firm’s owner and CPA, David Alfano, discussed the fiscal potential he saw in Villa Nuova with Orlando, giving him timely encouragement to expand his realm of goals.

What’s next on the menu for this thriving deli?

Expansion with a new restaurant is on the horizon! Our team, as well as the rest of the Greenwich Community, certainly looks forward to the day when this second deli makes its grand opening. We’re certainly excited to continue providing financial advisory to support to this local institution, along with any of Orlando’s future ventures!

If you’re hungry and in the Greenwich area, click here to check out the menu at Villa Nuova; if you can’t choose see our recommendations below!

Alfano & Company’s Favorites:

  • David: Chicken Parmigiana
  • Micalah: Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Evelyn & Wendy: Marco Polo
  • Mike & Sarah: Orlando Furioso
  • Liana: Don Tommaso
  • Nicky: Nicky Surprise
  • Cynthia: Il Paesano
  • Alba: Villa Nuova

What About Your Business?

We know small businesses well because we are one! So click here to see what services we can provide for your small business or here to inquire further about our accounting services.

 

Employee or Subcontractor – Who should you hire and why does it matter?

Most business owners require help from other individuals to successfully run their enterprise.  Often times they find themselves needing hired help to keep their business running smoothly.  Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation; the question becomes, should you hire an employee or an independent contractor?

Sure, there are benefits to hiring subcontractors.  It will save a company on payroll taxes, benefits, and insurance.  Savings, though, must be weighed equally with risk.  It’s been said, “you can call a shark a guppy, but that won’t stop him from biting you”.  Similarly there can be serious and costly consequences to misclassifying a worker as a subcontractor when they are, according to the IRS definition, an employee.

What’s at stake?  The IRS and state Department of Labor can assess major penalties on top of taxes they failed to withhold from the worker’s pay.  In some cases, the IRS may subject an employer with misclassified employees to penalties which include 20% of all wages paid PLUS all of the Social Security and Medicare taxes which were never withheld from the employee’s pay.  The individual responsible for collecting and paying these taxes can be held personally liable for any uncollected tax, even if the company folds or files for bankruptcy.  If the IRS determines intentional misconduct or fraud an employer can face prison time and additional criminal penalties.

Clearly, this isn’t a subject to view lightly.  Take the quiz below to determine if your new hire (or current worker) is a subcontractor or employee.

Who’s In Charge?

  1. Who determines when, where, and how work should be done?

a) I set the parameters for the worker to meet.

b) The worker determines the specifics regarding timing, location, and methods of work.

2. Is there a requirement for a set number of hours of work weekly or monthly?

a) Yes, I tell the worker how many hours (s)he is expected to work during a given period.

b) No, as long as the work gets done by the agreed upon deadline the worker is free to work as little or as much as (s)he chooses during a given period.

3. Does your expectation of work to be completed require full-time dedication from the worker?

a) Yes, the workload is significant and I expect the worker to give it priority.

b)No, the workload is not so great that (s)he does not have time to complete work for other businesses.

4. Is the worker free to advertise his or her expertise and services to the general public?

a) No, I expect exclusive access to work performed by this individual.

b) Of course! I would expect the worker to be looking for jobs beyond working for my business.

5. Is the relationship considered continual or only for a specific period or project?

a) Continual – I expect this worker to be regularly available to me for the foreseeable future.

b) Period or project based – I only call upon this worker when I have a specific need to be filled.

Training

6. Do you provide training to the worker?

a) Yes, I provide training including refining his/her skills or methods of work.

b) No, I expect him/her to show up for the job fully trained and already knowledgeable regarding work that must be performed.

7. Do you control the specific method for completing an assignment?

a) Yes, we maintain a clear sequence or method for completing work that I expect the worker to follow.

b) No, as long as the work gets done (s)he is free to control his/her own procedures and methods.

Assistants & Other Workers

8. Is the worker free to engage others to perform services for the company?

a) No, I expect the individual to complete all of the tasks him/herself and (s)he is not authorized to delegate work to individuals outside of our organization.

b) Yes, I have no control over who the worker may hire to assist with completing the assignment.

9. If the worker does engage an assistant or additional worker, who pays those wages or fees?

a) I would; this would be an amount above the worker’s agreed upon pay.

b) The worker would; if (s)he decides to pay for assistance in completing the work it would have to come out of the money already being paid to him/her and this would be solely his/her responsibility.

Money &  Materials

10. Are payments to the worker based on a period of time (hourly, monthly, weekly, etc.) or based on a contract or invoice by job or task?

a) Period of time – I pay the worker for hours worked or based on a specific time schedule.

b) Contract or invoice – the worker bills me per job or based on our agreed upon contract and I must pay according to the bill’s terms.

11. Do you provide any benefits to the worker?

a) Yes, I pay for some or all of the following: insurance, paid time off, auto mileage, or other “perks”.

b) No, I only pay the worker for tasks performed and offer no benefits.

12. Do you furnish the worker with tools and materials?

a) Yes, all that is required for the worker to complete the task is him/herself.

b) No, the worker must be prepared with everything necessary to get the job done.

How’d You Score?

Add up all of your As and all of your Bs.  If you clearly have more As than Bs you have definitely hired an employee; if you clearly have more Bs than As you’ve engaged a subcontractor.  If your As and Bs are too close to call you probably need to spend a little more time reviewing the specifics of your relationship with the worker to determine how best to classify him or her.  The article found here from the IRS website may prove to be very helpful.  If you’re still unsure we’re happy to help!  E-mail us to set up a time when we can discuss the specifics of your situation.

Now – just knowing if you’ve hired an employee or subcontractor is great, but how do you handle each of these scenarios for taxes?  Don’t worry we’ve got you covered!  Contact us today to find out about our payroll and 1099 processing services.

Team Spotlight: Sarah Cinquegrana

“Details create the big picture.”

~Sanford I. Weill.

Indeed, there are no such things as “minor details.” Whether we consider a painting, an organization, or even a job description, each unique detail merges together to form, what Weill would call, “the big picture.”

At Alfano & Company, Sarah Cinquegrana’s detail-oriented nature is especially vital in her areas of expertise.

“It’s all in the details…”

As an Alfano & Company Staff Accountant, Sarah’s responsibilities include tax preparation, bookkeeping, and contributes to the resolution of notices received by our clients. Of course, simply listing these roles is insignificant when compared to the actual tasks involved in fulfilling each position. As each aspect of her job description is explained, can you spot Sarah’s detail-oriented nature reflected in her work?

Bookkeeping: Sarah began her time at Alfano & Company as a bookkeeper. This role involves analyzing various documents for our clients, such as Profit & Loss reports, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements. Sarah doesn’t simply gather data and develop reports, though; rather, she ensures that everything, down to each and every transaction, is classified correctly and appropriately.

Tax Preparation: Of course, the height of tax season is when Sarah spends virtually all of her time working on the client tax returns. What’s her process? Sarah tells us, “First, I take a look at all of the documents they gave me and enter them into our tax software. Then, I compare the information they provided us with last year to this year’s to see if we are missing any important documents.” This year-to-year comparison has definitely served to assist many of our clients by ensuring nothing is missed!

Correspondence with Taxing Authorities: Sarah analyzes each notice that a client receives and forwards to our office. With guidance from a Senior Accountant, her role involves researching the purpose of the notice and determining its accuracy. She will help develop and follow through regarding any action required to resolve the matter. This may involve drafting a response on behalf of the firm, but always includes contacting the client to walk them through the process of getting the notice resolved. You read that right, a walk through! Sarah takes a keen interest in personally assisting all of our clients by reducing the stress that comes with getting a notice in the mail!

Enjoy the details 

What does Sarah enjoy about her job? She tells us, “I love bookkeeping and analyzing reports. These reports give me an accurate snapshot of a company. I find it very interesting that by pulling these reports we can easily help our clients see categorically how their business is running and how their expenses affect their cash flow.”

Sarah also makes sure to enjoy the details of her life outside of the office. Traveling and spending time with friends and family are where she creates wonderful memories and treasured moments. She also sets aside hours each month participating in a volunteer education work specifically for the Deaf. Sarah’s demeanor inside and outside of the office exudes genuine concern and an eagerness to assist wherever and whenever necessary.

Undoubtedly, having someone as detail-oriented as Sarah analyzing your financial reports and documents is a must! Click here for more details on how Sarah and the rest of the Alfano & Company team can help you!