Tax Season Checklist

Spring is here so tax day is near! Here are some tips to help you get on the path to filing:

  1. Give us your tax documents. It is imperative that we receive your tax information as soon as possible in order to actually file your return or even to file an extension! To get the ball rolling, drop off your documents to our office or upload them to your secure portal. If you don’t yet have the Portal, contact us  here. Even if you haven’t received all of your forms yet, be sure to gather everything that you have so that we can get started!
  1. Sign Form 8879, and any state e-File forms. After we’ve finished preparing your return, you can finds these forms in the portal (if you selected this service on your questionnaire) or in our office. Upload the signed forms back to the Portal or you can bring them into our office. We cannot file your return without these forms.
  2. Pay your tax preparation fee. If you don’t have time to come to our office, you can pay us easily here.
  3. Pay your taxes! This year your tax payments are due on April 17, 2018. If your taxes were set up to be direct debited from your bank account, ensure that these payments were withdrawn.
  4. Pay your first quarter estimates. These payments are also due on April 17, 2018.
  5. If you are considering an extension, let us know! We cannot file an extension without hearing from you first. If you believe you will owe state or federal taxes, we can use any preliminary tax information that you have to determine the amount to pay before the deadline!

Remember, an extension does not grant you permission to delay your tax payment.  Even if you think you can wait until October, the IRS requires full payment of whatever you owe by April 17th of this year; otherwise you could be charged interest and penalties.

Whether you’ve already filed or you’re on your way to filing, tax season is a stressful time for everyone. But as with all aspects of life, planning is essential to minimizing stress. So schedule a meeting with one of our accountants in May or thereafter to learn how you can benefit from tax planning. There are many ways to adjust your tax situation thus helping you keep more of what you earn in your pocket. Click here to inquire about our tax planning offer! Happy Filing!

David Alfano’s Top Five Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

 

  1. The Tim Ferriss Show

He’s one of the New York Times best-selling authors and wrote one of David’s favorite books, “The 4-Hour Workweek.”Now he’s creator and host of one of David’s favorite podcasts. Tim Ferriss shares how some of the world’s top performers have overcome many of man’s greatest flaws and eventually made it to the top of their game, including himself. You can listen to these tools, tips, and secrets for free on iTunes here.

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Tony Robbins Podcast

“Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist, and the nation’s #1 life and business strategist.” These podcasts cover a multitude of topics with intriguing titles such as, “Achieve Ultimate Health in 10 Days”, “Be The Last To Speak”, and “Why Do People Cheat?”. Each auditory episode is sure to put you on the path towards self-improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. Entrepreneur on Fire

If you’re at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you might not feel “on fire” just yet. So have you ever wondered how other entrepreneurs, like yourself, have achieved success? In this podcast, John Lee Dumas, founder and host of Entrepreneur on Fire, interviews a new, inspiring entrepreneur each week with almost 2,000 episodes in total. So get ready to ignite and become part of “Fire Nation.”

 

 

 

 

 

4. StartUp

Starting a business is no easy feat. This contemporary, humorous, and insightful podcast definitely stands out amongst others in its category. For instance, some titles include, “Business Ain’t Yeezy” and “I’m just like my comp’ny, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry” – it’s undeniably witty and incredibly useful if you’re in the startup process. You can keep up with the series here.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Marketing Smarts

As a business owner, it’s hard enough to make time to just market your products and services, not to mention to market it all well. If you’re feeling similarly, this 30-minute weekly podcast contains in-depth interviews with real marketers giving real advice that can help you up your marketing game.

David Alfano’s Top Eight Books For Entrepreneurs

  1. Start With Why – Simon Sinek

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

You may know what you do and how you do it, but do you know why you do it? What inspires you and what can you do to inspire your audience? This book will help you and your organization find your “why”.

 

 

 

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

Now you know the habits, but how should you implement them? Take a look at Covey’s research.

 

 

  1. Good to Great – Jim Collins  

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

This book provides a clear model to turn any good, or even mediocre, organization into a great one. But what identifies the elite from the others? Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought, and Disciplined Action. Want more? Check out the book for more details, diagrams, and terms explained.

 

 

 

  1. Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Did you recently lose a job? End a relationship? Move into a new place? Change is inevitable and it usually frightens us. And while it may feel like the end of the world, it’s only the beginning. Johnson’s tale of two mice and two “little people” teaches us how to successfully cope with change.

 

 

 

  1. Tools of Titans – Timothy Ferriss

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

Ferriss divides the tools among three sections – healthy, wealthy, and wise. Each section contains a breakdown of the habits and routines of some of the world’s top-notch performers. For instance, read about their morning routines, workout plans, and even their manageable diets to help you become a Titan too.

 

 

 

  1. As a Man Thinketh – James Allen

“Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”

Are you working hard, but still not seeing the desired results? Try analyzing and understanding your thoughts better. Why? James Allen can tell you.

 

 

 

 

  1. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure – Grant Cardone

“I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want; otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.”

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or someone seeking to thrive, apply the 10x rule. Set goals that are 10x higher than you think you can achieve. Take actions that are 10x greater than you think you should act. Experience 10x the benefits.

 

 

 

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – Timothy Ferriss

“By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.”

Feeling overworked, like you never have enough time? So did Ferriss. Overworked and overtired, he shortened his workweek from 14-hour days to just 4 hours. How? Read this page turner to find out.

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!

Retirement Planning – Which Plan is Right for You?

Goodbye, 2017… Hello, 2018!

But wait… the end of the year means … tax season is soon to follow!

Yes, taxpayers will soon be making some pretty hefty decisions. And if you’re retiring, even more so! How can you plan for retirement now? Here are some hints and tips to help you make smart fiscal decisions as the year draws to a close.

What kind of retirement plan should you choose? 

Today, many companies offer both a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k). Here’s how to know which one’s for you:

  • If you are in a lower tax bracket, you might prefer the Roth 401(k). You’ll receive rather significant tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
  • On the other hand, if you are currently in a higher tax bracket and want an immediate tax reduction, you might want to opt for the traditional 401(k). However, even if you are in a higher tax bracket now, you might still want to have a source of tax-free cash flow during retirement. If that’s the case, then go for the Roth 410(k) plan.

In 2017, the maximum you can contribute to a 401(k) is $18,000, plus an additional $6,000 if you are over the age of 50. If you don’t want to maximize these amounts, might consider paying off your credit card bills. Remember, credit card interest is not tax deductible, so it’s beneficial to pay down those credit card balances now. With regards to a home mortgage or student loans, the decision may not be so cut and dry, as these types of interest can be tax deductible.

What if your company does not offer a retirement plan? 

Open and fund an IRA account. Keep in mind, the due date to do so is April 15th, regardless of when you file your taxes.

For IRA withdrawals, IRA owners must take distributions after the age of 70.5. Carefully plan out how much you’d like to withdraw before year-end to keep taxable income low. With the money you withdraw, you could give it to your loved ones, reinvest it elsewhere, move it to a Roth IRA (for a tax-free future), or simply spend it on yourself!

Just like a 401(k), you can choose between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Depending on which tax bracket you find yourself in, the benefits to opening either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA or similar that of traditional and Roth 401(k)’s. In short:

  • If you are in a lower tax bracket, consider opening a Roth IRA.
  • If you are in a higher tax bracket, consider opening a traditional IRA.

When should I make charitable contributions?

To answer this question, you might want to consider when you’d like to experience a tax deduction. If you write a check to your favorite charity in December, your tax deduction is soon to follow in April! However, should you decide to wait until New Year’s, you’ll have to wait a year before receiving the tax benefit.

Furthermore, if you have stocks or stock funds that have gained value over time, you could choose to give appreciated securities to your favorite cause instead of a check. You’ll still be making excellent use of your funds while helping those in need!

We understand that retirement planning can be complex and confusing. Your financial future is as important to us as it is to you, so feel free to contact us if you’d like further tax planning assistance!

Client Spotlight: Jennifer & James Vellano

As an accounting firm catering to business owners, one of our greatest delights is witnessing the ambition and talent of our clients and the way it leads to their success.  One note-worthy example is the husband and wife team of Jennifer and James Vellano, subjects of this month’s Client Spotlight.

Food is Love

After honing their skills as private chefs and at restaurants such as Blue Hill and Per Se in New York City, the duo started their first business: Maison Privé a boutique catering company, right here in Greenwich, CT.  Maison Privé provides event and corporate catering along with highly customizable private home delivery.  With menus distinctive and unique (and delicious!), they found their drive and original inspiration from the exhilaration of serving people and making them happy; after all, food is love!  Woven in with their passion for tasty, seasonal food is a dedication to the value of supporting sustainable, organic and regenerative farming techniques.

All artists, including those in the culinary field, must continue to find new inspiration if they wish to grow and thrive.  The Vellanos are no exception; Jennifer says, “New inspiration is found through watching our young children love and appreciate all food.  We realized that if children in other countries, as well as our own, grow up eating sushi, curry, caviar, raw oysters… that should be normal for our kids’ taste buds.  They’ve never had chicken nuggets!”

Feeding Their Hometown

The ambition of James & Jennifer did not stop with the birth of Maison Privé.  Instead they strove to stretch their talents and do even more of what they love.  In 2015 they opened their second business, G.E. Brown Fine Food and Provisions in Bedford, NY.  Driven to bring healthy, delicious food into the homes of their friends, family and neighbors in their hometown, they opened this storefront to offer breakfast and counter items, grab and go prepared food, specialty items and a coffee bar – all with the same dedication to seasonality and sustainability so inherent in the fabric of their accomplishments.  Additionally, with the opening of GE Brown the Vellanos are working to bring back an old-fashioned, time honored approach to the slow-food movement by offering both an early morning coffee spot and place with family friendly options for healthy and delicious food in their small town.

Their Latest Venture

The most recent addition to their list of achievements is opening Something Natural on Greenwich Avenue with business partner Seth Hirschel earlier this year.  Famous for their house-made Portuguese bread, the original iconicsandwich shop of the same name has become a legend for locals and tourists over its 50 years on the island of Nantucket.  Hirschel and the Vellanos are proud to have brought a small slice of Nantucket to Greenwich.

For all their success the Vellanos credit the help they’ve received from their mentors along the way; notably, they’ve worked for great chefs such as Thomas Keller, Dan Barber, Danile Boulud, and Mike Anthony.

How do we, here at Alfano & Company, feel seeing the success of James & Jennifer?  When our clients succeed we succeed!  Seeing the Vellanos pursue their passion and work together to follow their dreams has been a delight.  We feel we can share in the joy of their journey by providing them with custom accounting services that suit their needs and propel them to growth.  With three businesses to run, creativity and talent to continually refine, and young children at home to care for – accounting is not something James & Jennifer need on their plate!  Jennifer credits the way our firm “takes care of all of [their] needs and has amazing customer service” as an aide to running their businesses.

If you, like James & Jennifer Vellano, are ambitious and passionate about your work and always challenging yourself professionally, we’d love to be on your team!  Perhaps our accounting services are right for you too!  Contact us to find out more information about what we can do for you.

Alfano & Company Team

 

 

 

Client Spotlight: Fred Boutique

We’d like to introduce you to Fred Boutique. This boutique shouts style and individuality while catering to each and every shopper. Who would not enjoy a latte while checking out the latest fashion designs from brands such as Elizabeth & James, Joie, and Waverly Grey? Shereen Koshnoodi and Kelley Frey, business owners of Fred Boutique, joined forces in 2012 to bring to life this modern take on caffeinated shopping; Shereen sums up their motivation in one word: passion. She says. “…I’ve always loved coffee shops and cafes so I wanted to combine the experience”.  These talented ladies have truly made this dream come to life. Fred Boutique provides a relaxing, intimate and unique shopping atmosphere for customers.

Of course, keeping Fred Boutique running has its share of challenges. These challenges include keeping track of expenses and monitoring all inner workings of a small business. Shereen says,” [Alfano & Company] has helped me keep track of my business. There are many moving parts [to Fred Boutique]. Our accountant, Liana, provides me with quarterly reports and helps me keep track of expenses.”

Fred Boutique in Westport, CT

At Alfano & Company we find it rewarding to witness the continued success of our clients and we look forward to seeing how Fred Boutique continues to grow and thrive. We are happy to congratulate Kelley and Shereen on the opening of their second Fred Boutique, in Westport, CT. “We want our customers to feel the love and passion that we have for what we do,” Shereen says. Visit Fred Boutique’s Old Greenwich location for a classic shopping experience. Step into Fred Boutique’s Westport store to ‘sip and shop’. We have no doubt you will feel the passion and love these entrepreneurs have for both fashion and their growing business.

We’d love to help your business grow too! Contact us for more information on our elite bookkeeping and advisory services. Visit us on the web at www.alfanocpa.com.

Alfano & Company Team
Alfano & Company Team