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.

 

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!

Alfano & Company Team Member Spotlight: Cynthia Borda

Alfano & Company strives to provide our business clients with personalized service to help you know not only where you are, but where you are going. This is made possible by amazing team members and their unique talents. Cynthia Borda is one of these invaluable team members whom we’d like to shine our spotlight on.

Cynthia handles the bookkeeping for a broad range of clients from a variety of industries- restaurants to construction companies. This helps her understand the ins and outs of how successful businesses operate. Cynthia breaks down for us specifically what her work entails: “I analyze different reports. The most common…include reconciliation reports, profit & loss [reports], and balance sheets. When I analyze reports I make sure everything is classified properly…I also compare the reports to last year to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary.”

Her keen interest in each individual client helps her be able to advise in the most effective manner. Cynthia’s degree in accounting helps her daily as she says,  “I understand why I am classifying financial transactions in a certain way or creating a journal entry. I understand the reason [behind]what I do. This helps me to better explain and answer any questions that [my] clients may have.” With her background and keen eye, she is able to see when adjustments can be made to aid in a businesses’ success.

Cynthia also prides herself in having an active share in a volunteer worldwide educational work. What effect has volunteering had on her? It  has helped her to be a diligent worker, who is both dedicated and thorough. This volunteer work affords Cynthia the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people. As she explains, “This has helped me to learn how to communicate better with the clients and to [cater]to their needs.” We can certainly see these traits in the way Cynthia interacts with her bookkeeping clients.

Where is Cynthia when she’s not comparing reports or volunteering? She’s probably on a plane! Cynthia loves to travel! This summer she enjoyed visiting Argentina to spend time with friends and attend a wedding. Cynthia says, “I love [traveling]. It gives me the opportunity to taste other cultures by means of food,  art, architecture, and history.” We wish Cynthia safe travels as she continues to expand her horizons and explore the world!

We appreciate Cynthia for being a dependable, hard-working team member at Alfano & Company. Does your business need a dependable bookkeeper like our very own Cynthia? Please contact us! We’d love to meet you.

 

 

 

Alfano & Company

Procrastinate No More!

Do you have control over your time? Or does time seem to elude and control you? It’s time to take control! Our personal and business lives are impacted every day by the way we manage our time, but do we actually take active steps to stop procrastinating and produce more?
Here are five tips from Inc.com that we love and want to share:

1. Work 10 minutes. Then break for 2 minutes. 5 times in a Row.

You will find you are better able to focus during these spurts of concentrated work. The link shows that more breaks will contribute to better health both mental and physical. This will make you a better more productive employee. Bring on the coffee breaks!

2. Hold Yourself Accountable.

If you waste time, don’t make excuses; learn from your misuse of time. For every hour that you procrastinate, donate $5 to a charity. Good for the charity, not so good for you.

3. Deadlines!

Create deadlines for the tasks that you really don’t want to do. Don’t make the deadline too far off either. Push yourself to not put the task off any longer with a little self-induced pressure.

4. Don’t Defeat Yourself!

Okay, so this morning was a wash. You were completely off task. Don’t throw in the towel! Start over in the afternoon. Focus! You got this!

5. Mini to Do List.

You know those 15 minute intervals during the day where you’re waiting for your next appointment? Replace catching up on the latest instagram trifles with a mini to-do list of tasks that you can accomplish in short amounts of time. This will keep you productive and moving forward throughout your day.

Take control of your time. Through application of the 5 aforementioned tips, watch your productivity soar. Feel in control and a lot less stress! We’re sure you like the sound of this.

Alfano & Company

Life Changes = Tax Changes

Did you know that big life changes can have big tax implications? If you got married, had a baby, went through a divorce, picked up a side gig or were widowed, there may be important tax consequences to your return. Here’s a look at what to keep track of throughout the year:

Marriage

Love is a wonderful thing, even according to Uncle Sam. For those who tied the knot last year (right up until December 31), there may be substantial benefits for your taxes.

In general, many couples get a tax break for being married.This life change will allow you to file jointly which can qualify you for deductions and credits that you would not qualify for if you file separately.

For starters, you’ll both get to take the personal exemption — a $4,050 benefit — which reduces your taxable income by that amount if you file jointly. You will also be able to combine incomes in order to boost contributions to an IRA or charitable donations.

(Note: Some taxpayers, particularly high-income couples, could be subject to a marriage penalty, meaning that they pay more in taxes than if they were each single.)

Be sure to contact the Social Security Administration as well as the IRS so that their records match, and make sure you and your spouse also change your W-4 withholding at work from single to married.

Birth of a Baby

What a beautiful life change! That little bundle of joy also has tax benefits. If you had a child last year, you qualify for a dependent exemption of $4,050, even if you just welcomed your baby on December 31.

There are other benefits as well, such as the Child Tax Credit worth $1,000 for each child, the Child and Dependent Care Credit worth up to $3,000 for one dependent and $6,000 for two or more (if both parents are working) in addition to the Earned Income Tax Credit. That could mean cash back of up to $6,269 for taxpayers with three or more children if you earn low-to-moderate income.

Again, be sure sure to have your child’s new Social Security number for your tax forms. You can’t claim your new dependent without it!

Divorce

Hashing out a split can get complicated. If you got divorced during the year — even on December 31 — you aren’t able to file as married for the tax year. The IRS will view you as single for that entire year because of your marital status at the end of the year.

Then there’s the question of who is eligible to claim the dependents, if there are any. That has important ramifications because of all of those associated credits and deductions that go along with the kids.

The liquidation of assets may create other complicating factors that could affect your return. For example, if the family home is valuable, the tax bill could be high for the spouse who takes the house. There are also disparities in the tax treatment of the assets in a 401(k) plan vs. other accounts — not to mention the tax implications of any spousal or child support payments. (Generally, alimony is taxable by the recipient and deductible by the payer.)

If you’ve changed your name, be sure to reconcile that as well with the Social Security Administration.

Side Gig

For those who got in on Airbnb or Uber and earned some money from the sharing economy you will receive 1099-MISC or a 1099-K, which should be mailed to you by January 31, and you must report that income on your tax return.

Of course, the expenses you incur as a result of your side job are also deductible from what you’ve earned but only if they are necessary for the business.

For example, if you use your car you can deduct your mileage and upkeep, or if you have a home office you may be able to deduct a portion of the rent or mortgage interest and utilities as well as a computer or other costs.

Throughout the year be sure to keep a careful record of those work-related expenses in order to account for them at tax time.

Widowed

There is a little leeway for those who experienced a significant loss last year. In the year you are widowed you are able to file using the same married status you have been using and get the same tax breaks that married couples do. This is the one exception to the rule that your marriage status at the end of the year dictates your filing status.

When a spouse passes away, any inheritance or property is passed to a surviving spouse without needing to pay any estate tax.

If you are anticipating to collect a tax refund in place of your deceased spouse you should complete and file a Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer (Form 1310). Filing the form will help to avoid possible delays in receiving your refund.

Most other life changes, including your filing status and Social Security benefits, will occur after the year of death. For the two years that follow, you can file as a qualifying widower as long as you have a dependent, which means the tax rates will still be lower than filing single.

Do you have questions about big life changes? Email us and we’ll help you know what to do and how this will affect you!

Why You Should Choose Email over Phone Calls

There are several ways to communicate with your clients, but the two most popular options are phone calls and emails. While there are certainly pros and cons to both choices, listed below are 5 reasons why emails have the advantage.

1.You can’t review a phone call later.

Have you ever gotten off a phone call only to realize you don’t quite remember what the other person just said? There is no easy way to simply re-hear your last conversation. Emails have the advantage of being permanent and searchable. No matter how long it’s been since you received an email you can always, and easily, find it and read it again.

2. Phone calls require immediate responses.

Have you ever been asked a question and felt on-the-spot to immediately reply? That’s exactly what happens during phone calls! You can’t be an expert at everything, and every now and again you’ll be asked a question that you don’t know the answer to. If you were asked that question in an email though, you would have time to calmly do some research before responding. Doesn’t that sound much more relaxing? Not only will you be at ease, but your client will receive a much more thorough, and accurate, answer and they’ll view you as a trusted source of information.

3. Phone calls interrupt your work flow.

Have you ever been – ring, ring, ring? Wait, what was I saying? Phone calls easily interrupt your train of thought and your productivity. By taking every call that comes in you’ll find yourself never being able to finish your important tasks that day, instead focused on those who called. With emails you can set aside certain times of the day to check your inbox and deal with any items of urgency, while saving the other emails for a later time. This will ensure all of your clients receive your most focused attention and you are as productive as possible.

4. Phone calls can have bad reception.

Huh? What did you just say? No matter how much technology improves it seems the person on the other line is always hard to hear. Not only is it frustrating for both parties involved, but you can be sure that items are being lost in translation. You can make it easier for everyone for clearly stating what needs to be said in an email. The client on the other end will easily be able to “hear” you when they can just read your words.

5. Phone calls can be much less efficient.

Have you ever found yourself caught in a round of phone-tag? Unfortunately the person who you need to talk to just happens to be unavailable every time you call and you keep missing their calls. By choosing email over phone calls you know that they will receive your message at a time most convenient for them, and you don’t have to find yourself leaving numerous voicemails just waiting for them to call you back.

At Alfano and Company we are always happy to hear from clients! We are here year-round for your tax and accounting needs, so never hesitate to email us. Click here to meet our team and get our email addresses.

Micalah Bowden, Office Manager

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Tax Preparer

It’s tax time again and you need someone to prepare your tax return! You may google “tax preparation services” but when a list of 10 different names pop up, how are you supposed to know who to choose?

It’s not an easy task finding a preparer who you can trust to accurately and efficiently prepare and file your tax return, but it’s certainly an important one!

Maybe you decide to take a chance and schedule a meeting with one of the 10 preparers you found on Google but once you meet them, how can you be sure that he or she is the right preparer for you? Ask them the following questions, and pay close attention to their answers:

Do you have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number)?

Anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN before preparing returns. Without this identification number a tax preparer is not allowed to file your tax return. This should be the first item you check when interviewing a tax preparer!

What is your tax background?

Is your new tax preparer a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an Enrolled Agent (EA), or do they not have any formal credentials at all? Ask about what they do and why they’re qualified to do it. You may also want to find out how long they’ve been preparing tax returns. If you’ve got a complicated tax situation it may not be the right year to choose the preparer whose just getting started in the tax preparation industry.

Do you know how to file this tax return?

Not every preparer will have experience filing every type of tax return. One preparer may only file 1040s and another might be an expert at filing corporate tax returns. Ensure they have experience filing the types of returns you need to file before choosing them. You don’t want to be a new preparer’s tax return guinea pig!

Do you know the filing requirements of the states where I will need to file?

Not all state tax returns are created equal. While your preparer may be experienced in filing state tax returns for the state they are located in, they may be unsure of the requirements necessary in the remaining 49. If you’ve moved states in the last year or work in a different state than you live, ensure that your tax preparer knows how to handle your specific tax situation.

Do you have qualified support staff?

Some tax preparers choose to work on their own while others have a full team of qualified professionals behind them. By choosing the tax preparer with competent support staff you’ll be sure that someone is always available to take your call and answer your questions even if your tax preparer is busy working on tax returns. It will ensure that your return will get prepared and finalized quickly as your preparer will be able to focus on your return. It will also be likely that you will find someone capable of handling any other accounting needs you have, such as bookkeeping or IRS representation, within that tax preparer’s accounting firm.

Can I file electronically?

Filing electronically is the way to go! Not only is it the fastest way to get your refund and typically results in fewer math errors, but it may also be required: a paid preparer who prepares and files more than ten tax returns must file returns electronically unless the client opts out. Ensure your new tax preparer is going to be filing your return electronically before selecting them!

How do you determine your fees?

Fees will typically be based on the complexity and time required to file your tax return. However, be wary of preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your anticipated refund, as they will have an incentive to encourage inappropriate credits and deductions – not to mention, this pricing structure is illegal! Similarly, by law a tax preparer cannot base their preparation fees based on how much they need.

When will I receive a copy of my tax return?

Your paid preparer is required to provide you with a copy of your own tax return which you must retain for your own records. If a preparer is hesitant to let you know when you’ll receive a copy of your return, it may be time to search for a new preparer.

Are you available year-round?

Filing taxes can sometimes be seen as a seasonal profession and many preparers decide to disappear once the filing season is over. However, you may find you have additional questions or receive a notice from the IRS later in the year. You’ll want to be sure your preparer is reliable and will be able to provide you with accounting services year-round.

What happens if I get audited?

You might not want to think about getting audited, but it can happen. Will your preparer handle the audit with the IRS on your behalf? Or will you need to fend for yourself? Make sure they are qualified to represent you before the IRS before choosing them.

Don’t be hesitant to ask your preparer these, or any other, questions. Finding the best tax preparer for you will require some time and effort, but it will be worth it once you build a trusting and long-term relationship with.

If you’re looking for a tax preparer this year and would like to hear our answers to the questions above, please email us today.

Micalah Bowden, Office Manager

Stay Secure!

 

Violated, unsafe, insecure – all feelings that victims of identity theft experience. If you’ve been there, you already know. What can you do to stay secure this tax season? How can you protect you and your family?

 Computer Safety

  • How can you keep your computer from being an invitation to cyber criminals? Virus protection is a must! To those procrastinators out there: get virus protection that automatically updates.
  • Your personal information is your identity, so don’t leave it lying around.
  • Do you use the same password everywhere on the internet? Don’t do that anymore. That’s like inviting a cyber criminal over for dinner. Changing your passwords every so often won’t hurt either.

No ‘Phishing’ Allowed or Malware

  • The IRS will never you via email, text, or phone. The IRS will never contact you via email, text, or phone. The IRS will never contact you via email, text, or phone. (I think you’ve got it!)
  • You’ve always told your children don’t talk to strangers, so don’t download attachments from people you don’t know.
  • Have your pop up blocker ready to attack!

Protect All that is Personal

  • Leave your social security card at home in a fire-proof safe.
  • If you must email sensitive documents: encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.
  • Shred any important documents before trashing them.
  • If entering private information on a website, check to make sure the site is secure -https//- is an order.

 

Applying these points will keep you, your family, and your identity safe and secure. If you ever have doubts they’re probably for good reason. If you have been contacted by the IRS and have any doubts, call us or check out this publication. Stay safe!

Laura Boykins Marketing Coordinator

What’s The Deadline 411

Tax season is here again! It’s time you make yourself aware of all of the upcoming important deadlines that will affect you and your business. In case you haven’t heard, many deadlines have changed this year. Please read through the list below to make note of which deadlines you’ll be facing this tax season.

Individual tax returns (Forms 1040, 1040NR, 1040A, and 1040EZ)

  • First deadline is April 18, 2017.
  • Extended deadline is October 16, 2017.

Partnership returns (Form 1065) – Change of deadline!

  • First deadline is March 15, 2017
  • Extended deadline is September 15, 2017.

Trust and Estate income tax returns (Form 1041)

  • First deadline is April 18, 2017.
  • Extended deadline is October 2, 2017
  • Note change: extensions for fiduciary returns are now five and a half months instead of five months.

C-Corporation returns (Form 1120) – Change of deadline!

  • First deadline is April 18, 2017 for corporations on a calendar year
  • Extended deadline is October 16, 2017.
  • For corporations on a fiscal year other than a calendar year, the first deadline is the 15th day of the fourth month following the end of the corporation’s fiscal year.

S-Corporation returns (Form 1120S)

  • First deadline is March 15, 2015.
  • Extended deadline is September 15, 2017.

Foreign Bank Account Reports (FinCen Form 114) – Change of deadline!

  • Deadline is April 15, 2017
  • Extended deadline is October 15, 2017
  • Unlike tax returns, FBARs do not have a next-business-day rule if the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

It’s our goal to make this tax season your best one yet! Email us today at reception@alfanocpa.com to schedule your tax meeting. Are you unsure which tax documents to provide to us to prepare your tax return? Click here to find out exactly what we’ll need!

 

Micalah Bowden, Office Manager

CPA or No CPA? That is The Question

CPA or No CPA? That is The Question!

It’s tax filing time! The average Joe is dreading this time of year. Many important decisions need to made so as to not upset Uncle Sam, and at the same time, the quicker, easier and least painful the process, the better.  There are dozens of online tax preparation services, corner store tax prep businesses and the elite CPA firm in town. How do you know what is the right move for your personal taxes and or business taxes?

We are a successful CPA Firm in Old Greenwich, CT. We have clients nationwide and pride ourselves in providing personalized hands on service to all types of clients who have a wide variety of tax and financial situations. Wait! This is not an advertisement! We just want to make it clear who we are, and that we understand we are not for everyone. The wise course is to examine your needs and budget and then make the best choice for yourself.

The Examination

Ask yourself, ‘What are my needs?’ Do you need just simple tax preparation for yourself and family members? Or do you have various trusts, businesses of various entities and maybe an unresolved tax issue? These basic questions will help you determine if you trust yourself to handle your tax preparation or if you need professional eyes and keen awareness of the latest tax laws.

What’s my budget?

What can you spend on this service? Are you willing to pay more for a faster turn around? Cross your fingers that buyers’ remorse doesn’t set in should speed undermine accuracy. Can you afford to pay more for supplementary inclusive services?

Do I need more than just tax preparation?

Do you need more services? Business owners, do you have a bookkeeper you trust? Do you have year round access to a professional team that provides you with sound, timely advice? Do you have past IRS issues that you need to rectify? What about payroll help? Are you overwhelmed with managing payroll of each of your employees? Perhaps you need a team that can handle your accounting needs year round!

What choice should I make?

Now that you’ve done some self-examination, maybe an online tax service is perfect for your circumstances. Maybe you trust that tax prep office on the corner. But maybe you are overwhelmed and would like a team of qualified professionals on your side. If that’s the case, we are more than happy to help! Give us a call today to schedule a free-of-charge tax consultation so that we can get started on your accounting needs.

Whatever you decide, be alert to how your information is handled and be open-minded to change your method whenever your needs do change.

Happy filing!

Alfano & Company Team