Advice, Preparation . . . Results™

Internal Control

It’s time for a midyear checkup!

Time flies when you’re busy running a business. But it’s important to occasionally pause and assess interim performance — otherwise you’re likely to be surprised by the year-end results. When reviewing midyear financial reports, however, recognize their potential shortcomings. These reports might not be as reliable as year-end financials, unless a CPA prepares them or performs agreed-upon procedures on specific accounts.

Diagnostic benefits

Monthly, quarterly and midyear financial reports can provide insight into trends and possible weaknesses. Interim reporting can be especially helpful for businesses that were struggling at the end of 2017.

For example, you might compare year-to-date revenue for 2018 against 1) the same time period for 2017, or 2) your annual budget for 2018. If your business isn’t growing or achieving its goals, find out why. Perhaps you need to provide additional sales incentives, implement a new ad campaign or alter your pricing.

You can also review your gross margin [(revenue – cost of sales) ÷ revenue]. If your margin is slipping compared to 2017 or industry benchmarks, find out what’s going wrong — and take corrective actions.

Don’t forget the balance sheet. Reviewing major categories of assets and liabilities can help detect working capital problems before they spiral out of control. For instance, a buildup of accounts receivable may signal collection problems. Or, if your company is drawing heavily on its line of credit, operations might not be generating sufficient cash flow.

Potential shortcomings

When interim financials seem out of whack, don’t panic. Some anomalies may not be caused by problems in your daily business operations. Instead, they might be caused by informal accounting practices that are common midyear (but are corrected by your CPA at year end).

For example, some controllers might liberally interpret period “cutoffs” or use subjective estimates for certain account balances and expenses. In addition, interim financial statements typically exclude costly year-end expenses, such as profit sharing and shareholder bonuses. Interim financial statements, therefore, generally paint a rosier picture of a company’s performance than its year-end report potentially may.

Furthermore, many companies perform time-consuming physical inventory counts exclusively at year end. Therefore, the inventory amount shown on the interim balance sheet might be based solely on computer inventory schedules or, in some instances, the controller’s estimate using historic gross margins. Similarly, accounts receivable may be overstated, because overworked controllers may lack time or personnel to adequately evaluate whether the interim balance contains any bad debts.

Proceed with caution

Contact the experienced team at P&R for help interpreting your midyear results, as well as detecting and correcting potential problems. Unlike year-end financials, interim reports are seldom subject to external audit or rigorous internal accounting scrutiny. We can remedy any shortcomings by performing additional testing procedures on your interim financials — or preparing audited or reviewed midyear statements that conform to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Reach us at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400.

© 2018

Scammers Targeting Tax Preparers—and We’re Ready

As the filing deadline for your individual income tax return approaches, the unscrupulous identity thieves shift into high gear, knowing taxpayers and their preparers are under more pressure and could make careless mistakes.

While we’re certainly not perfect, we’re doing all we can to protect your identity, your financial planning records and, of course, your tax refund.

You may have seen a recent USA Today story about the scammers specifically targeting tax professionals. The statistics are sobering. According to the story, “About 75 firms acknowledged taxpayer data thefts in January and February—a nearly 60% increase from the same time last year.”

Rest assured we’re on the lookout for the crooks’ latest tactics, such as:

  • Introducing themselves as prospective—or desperate—new clients and sending us attachments, supposedly their W2’s and other tax documents. They’re actually viruses—some providing remote access to the infected computer—they hope we’ll download on our computer system.
  • Filing in your name, with all your data stolen elsewhere, and we find out when you call us to say you’ve already received your refund, and we haven’t finished your return yet!

The fraudster’s next step is to call and tell you he or she  works for one of the IRS’ out-sourced collection agencies and  the money was deposited in error, which the IRS calls an “erroneous refund,” and you must forward that money to them immediately.

Don’t do it! Hang up and call us immediately. We’ll connect you to the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

In addition to being on the lookout for the tricks and scams, we use the latest anti-virus, anti-malware protection and protocols to protect you and your records.

We do ask you to do your part: use our secure portal, or ask us to send you a link in an email. We know we’re asking you to take extra steps, but our request protects both of us. So, please, never send us your sensitive documents in an unsecure Email!

We remain committed to your financial success—and security. Our tax accounting professionals pride themselves on serving, and protecting, you.

Income tax day is less than two weeks away so contact us if we can help: Office@CPAsite.com or (904) 396-5400.

The New Patrick & Raines CPAs App . . . This One’s On Us!

Ready . . .Set . . . Launch! Introducing our accounting services taken to the next level. Download our free Patrick and Raines CPA app.

Since we’re constantly moving forward to improve our client accessibility, we’re proud to announce the launch of our Patrick & Raines CPAs app, now available for iPhones, iPads and Android devices and – best of all – it’s completely free!

So the next time you need to access a third party site such as Xero, Quickbooks or the IRS, try our new app first. You’ll find up to date, important accountancy data and valuable tools at your fingertips, including:

  • Photo Receipt Management, Email and Store

Never lose a receipt again! Using our latest app, you can track receipts and expenses literally at the touch of a button. With minimal effort you can take a picture of any receipt and save it to your app. Any additional information can be added later, and receipts are stored by amount, category, and date. You can track all your expenses with ease and enable us to interact digitally with you.

  • GPS Mileage Tracking and Management Tool

When it comes to tracking mileage, half the battle is keeping an accurate tab of your driving history. The built-in GPS on your device automatically tracks your mileage, recording every single trip at the touch of a button. It also manages trips as well, storing them and allowing you to view, edit and email them with complete ease.

  • Invaluable Business Tools and Features
    • Calculators
    • Tax tables
    • Logbooks
    • Expense tracking
    • Income management

As your certified public accounting firm, we’re committed to finding effective ways to communicate and interact with you in the most efficient possible way. To access information at your fingertips, the new P&R app also provides push notifications, so we can instantly share important news, deadline reminders and financial updates.

By investing in this state-of-the-art app, our goal is to prepare you with the financial information you need today so you can achieve the results you envision for the future.

Go on . . . explore and enjoy our complimentary Patrick & Raines CPAs app. You’ll find it at your favorite app store.

At Patrick & Raines CPAs, our accounting team holds decades of experience serving the business community and individuals with complex financial planning needs. Let us know how we can help: Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400.

People Still Pay by Check: Beware of Tampering

In nonprofit and commercial organizations alike, we want to think our employees (or volunteers) exude sterling characters who wish the best for both our organization and their fellow colleagues. Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and even people we trust implicitly may be tempted to conduct deceptive bookkeeping in times of personal downturn.

Although many consumers turn to electronic means of payment, a large quantity of checks still pass through most organizations, making check tampering a potential method of theft.

Fraudulent disbursement of funds usually occurs either by forging a check from a company account or by diverting a company check intended for a third party, for personal benefit.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners breaks down check tampering into five categories:

  • Forged maker. The “maker” of the check signs the front. If a non-authorized person signs a company check in the name of an authorized signer, it’s forgery.
  • Forged endorsement. Whereas the maker signs the front of the check, the endorser signs the back, enabling dishonest “endorsers” to cash checks fraudulently.
  • Altered payee. An employee may intercept a company check intended for a third party and alter the payee line. (Ever wondered why the IRS requires you to make checks payable to U.S. Treasury? Checks made payable to the IRS could be altered to “I. R. Smith” or other last names beginning with S.)
  • Concealed check. Fraudulent checks may be concealed in a stack of others that the boss signs without first scrutinizing them.
  • Authorized maker. A person authorized to sign checks may fraudulently cash one for self-profit.

If check tampering occurred only infrequently, losses would prove minimal, but ongoing greed and desperation often lead perpetrators to commit multiple acts of deception, thus your company could lose thousands of dollars before the fraud gets discovered.

How can your organization avoid deceptive acts of thievery by employees? Diligence must remain foremost in following internal control procedures:

  • Segregate duties. Accounts receivable, accounts payable, and recordkeeping should be done by three different employees (or by employees in three separate departments).
  • Reconcile bank statements every month. If your organization isn’t big enough to segregate the duties, take on this task yourself. Know what checks were written, cashed and outstanding, and follow up on anything questionable.
  • Never sign checks in a hurry without examining them.

For more advice on internal control, or for assurance services (audits, reviews, or compilations) contact the experienced accounting staff at Patrick & Robinson CPAs at Office@CPAsite.com or 904-396-5400. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true in preventing check fraud. Prudent vigilance will save you headaches, time and money.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.

Are there any benefits to filing early? And what happens if I file after the deadline?

A.

Filing before April can make your tax refund come back faster, but filing too close to the deadline could cost you money.

Read more...

Locations

4029 Atlantic Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207
6000-A Sawgrass Village Circle, Suite 1, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082

 

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