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Accounting

Your sales are up, so why is cash flow low?

Business owners sometimes mistakenly equate profits with cash flow. Here’s how this can lead to surprises when managing day-to-day operations — and why many profitable companies experience cash shortages.

Working capital

Profits are closely related to taxable income. Reported at the bottom of your company’s income statement, they’re essentially the result of revenue less the cost of goods sold and other operating expenses incurred in the accounting period.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) require companies to “match” costs and expenses to the period in which revenue is recognized. Under accrual-basis accounting, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you receive payments from customers or when you pay expenses.

For example, inventory sitting in a warehouse or retail store can’t be deducted — even though it may have been long paid for (or financed). The expense hits your income statement only when an item is sold or used. Your inventory account contains many cash outflows that are waiting to be expensed.

Other working capital accounts — such as accounts receivable, accrued expenses and trade payables — also represent a difference between the timing of cash flows. As your business grows and prepares for increasing future sales, you invest more in working capital, which temporarily depletes cash.

The reverse also may be true. That is, a mature business may be a “cash cow” that generates ample cash, despite reporting lackluster profits.

Capital expenditures, loan payments and more

Working capital tells only part of the story. Your income statement also includes depreciation and amortization, which are noncash expenses. And it excludes changes in fixed assets, bank financing and owners’ capital accounts, which affect cash that’s on hand.

To illustrate: Suppose your company uses tax depreciation schedules for book purposes. In 2018, you purchased new equipment to take advantage of the expanded Section 179 and bonus depreciation allowances. The entire purchase price of these items was deducted from profits in 2018. However, these purchases were financed with debt. So, actual cash outflows from the investments in 2018 were minimal.

In 2019, your business will make loan payments that will reduce the amount of cash in the company’s checking account. But your profits will be hit with only the interest expense (not the amount of principal that’s being repaid). Plus, there will be no “basis” left in the 2018 purchases to depreciate in 2019. These circumstances will artificially boost profits in 2019, without a proportionate increase in cash.

Look beyond profits

It’s imperative for business owners and management to understand why profits and cash flow may not sync. If your profitable business has insufficient cash on hand to pay employees, suppliers, lenders or even the IRS, contact Patrick & Raines CPAs to discuss ways to more effectively manage the cash flow cycle.

904.396.5400 | office@CPAsite.com

Tax Law Changes That May Affect Your Business’s 401(k) Plan

Think about recent tax law changes and your business: There’s the new 20% pass-through deduction for qualified business income (QBI) and the enhancements to depreciation-related breaks. There’s also the reduction or elimination of certain business expense deductions. However, if your business sponsors a 401(k) plan, then there are also a couple of recent tax law changes you need to be aware of.

    1.  Plan loan repayment extension:

A great way to get a low-interest loan would be to borrow from your 401(k). But what happens if you leave the company (voluntarily or otherwise)? I’ll tell you; you have 60 days to either roll over the 401(k) into another qualified account or repay the loan. If the loan is not repaid, it then goes into default and is reported to the IRS as taxable income (and be subject to a 10% early distribution penalty if the employee was under age 59½).

However, under The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), starting 2018 any loans taken from your 401(k) now allows more time for the borrower to repay. Instead of the 60-day window, borrows now have until their tax return filing due date — including extensions — to repay the loan (or contribute the outstanding balance to an IRA or qualified retirement plan) and avoid taxes and penalties. To sum up, if you borrowed from your 401(k) and leave your job in 2018, you now have until April 15, 2019 to repay the loan.

    2.  Hardship withdrawal limit increase:

Some 401(k) plans allow for hardship withdrawals. If the 401(k) plan does include Hardship, an employee is allowed to take the withdrawal if their hardship falls under it’s criteria: purchase of a new home, damage/repair expenses for your home, payment expenses to avoid evictions or foreclosure on your home, unexpected medical costs, tuition/educational fees, or burial/funeral expenses. Before, a person could only borrow what they contributed into their 401(k). Beginning in 2019, the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) eases restrictions on employee 401(k) hardship withdrawals. Now, a person can not only withdraw their own contribution, but they can also withdraw their employer matched contributions plus earnings on contributions. This deduction will be considered taxable income and subject to the 10% early distribution tax penalty.

While this may sound beneficial, many people do not save enough for retirement. In addition, it is taking Americans longer to pay back loans thus missing out on potential tax-deferred growth during that time. Hardship withdrawals can result in a smaller, perhaps much smaller, nest egg at retirement.

So consider educating your employees on the importance of letting their 401(k) accounts grow undisturbed and the potential negative tax consequences of loans and early withdrawals. The team at Patrick & Raines CPAs have many years of experience helping small business owners and financial planning.  Contact us at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400 if we can help you!

Thinking of selling your business…?

Mark Patrick, CPA was featured in the UNF Spotlight newsletter. If you are thinking of selling your business, here are 4 ways to yield a large tax savings and/or better proceeds at closing!

Tax Efficient Sale of Your Business

Audit opinions: How your financial statements measure up


Audit opinions differ depending on the information available, financial viability, errors discovered during audit procedures and other limiting factors. The type of opinion your auditor issues tells stakeholders whether you’re in compliance with accounting rules and likely to continue operating as a going concern.

The basics

To find out what type of audit opinion you’ve received, scan the first page of your financial statements. Known as the “audit opinion letter,” this is where your auditor states whether the financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects, compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and free from material misstatement. But the opinion doesn’t constitute an endorsement or evaluation of the company’s financial results.

Most audit opinion letters consist of three paragraphs. The introductory paragraph identifies the company, accounting period and auditor’s responsibilities. The second discusses the scope of work performed. The third paragraph contains the audit opinion.

In general, there are four types of audit opinions, ranked from most to least desirable.

1. Unqualified. A clean “unqualified” opinion is the most common (and desirable). Here the auditor states that the company’s financial condition, position and operations are fairly presented in the financial statements.

2. Qualified. The auditor expresses a qualified opinion if the financial statements appear to contain a small deviation from GAAP, but are otherwise fairly presented. To illustrate: An auditor will “qualify” his or her opinion if a borrower incorrectly estimates warranty expense, but the exception doesn’t affect the rest of the financial statements.

Qualified opinions are also given if the company’s management limits the scope of audit procedures. For example, a qualified opinion may result if you deny the auditor access to a warehouse to observe year-end inventory counts.

3. Adverse. When an auditor issues an adverse opinion, there are material exceptions to GAAP that affect the financial statements as a whole. Here the auditor indicates that the financial statements aren’t presented fairly. Typically, an adverse opinion letter contains a fourth paragraph that outlines these exceptions.

4. Disclaimer. Even more alarming to lenders and investors is a disclaimer opinion. Disclaimers occur when an auditor gives up midaudit. Reasons for disclaimers may include significant scope limitations, material doubt about the company’s going-concern status and uncertainties within the subject company itself. A disclaimer opinion letter briefly outlines the auditor’s reasons for throwing in the towel.

Ready, set, audit

Before fieldwork starts for the audit of your 2018 financial statements, let’s discuss any foreseeable scope limitations and possible deviations from GAAP. Depending on the situation, we may be able to recommend corrective actions and help you proactively communicate with stakeholders about the reasons for a less-than-perfect audit opinion. Reach us at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400.

© 2018

How auditors assess risk when preparing financial statements


Every year, your audit firm will conduct a fresh risk assessment before the start of fieldwork. Why? Because your auditor wants to mitigate the risk of expressing an incorrect opinion regarding the accuracy and integrity of the company’s financial statements. Inadvertently signing off on financial statements that contain material misstatements can open a Pandora’s box of risks — from shareholder lawsuits to increased regulatory oversight.

3-prong assessment

Audit risk is a combination of three components:

1. Control risk. Sometimes a company’s internal controls are inadequate to prevent or detect material misstatements. Control risk increases when the company fails to deploy and enforce effective internal controls, or when employees or third parties override them without the company discovering their actions.

2. Inherent risk. This term refers to susceptibility to a material misstatement, regardless of whether the company has strong internal controls. Certain transactions and industries present greater inherent risk than others.

For example, companies operating in developing countries face a greater threat of bribery and corruption by government officials, regardless of the internal controls they put in place. Inherent risk is also greater when accounting transactions are complex or involve a high degree of judgment.

3. Detection risk. Audit procedures are designed to uncover material misstatements. Detection risk is high when there’s a high probability that substantive audit procedures will fail to detect a material misstatement. When detection risk is elevated, the auditor might, for example, test a larger sample of transactions to mitigate audit risk.

Control risk and inherent risk stem from a company’s industry and actions. Conversely, detection risk is typically managed by the audit team.

Customized audit procedures

The auditor’s role is to attest to your company’s financial statements. Specifically, your audit firm assures that your financial statements are “fairly presented in all material respects, compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and free from material misstatement.”

Unqualified (or clean) audit opinions require detailed substantive procedures, such as confirming accounts receivable balances with customers and conducting test counts of inventory in the company’s warehouse. Generally, the more rigorous the auditor’s substantive procedures, the lower the likelihood of the audit team failing to detect a material misstatement.

Collaborative effort

Audit season is coming soon for calendar year-end entities. Before the start of fieldwork, let’s discuss changes in your business operations, accounting methods and industry conditions, along with other factors, that could create audit risk. We’ll adjust our audit programs accordingly to ensure that your financial statements are prepared with the highest level of quality and efficiency.  Contact us at 904-396-5400 or Office@CPAsite.com. 

© 2018

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