Five Things You Need to Know About US Expat Taxes

A U.S. expatriate, often shortened to expat, is a person that temporarily or permanently decides to reside in another country. This includes students, professionals, skilled workers, or artists who take positions outside of their home country. If you are or will be one of these individuals, then you need to remember that the U.S. taxes you on your worldwide income. This means you have to disclose certain foreign financial accounts and assets. Here are 5 things you need to know about tax for expats.

1. Track The Time

If you want to ensure you qualify for tax for expats, and potentially save thousands of dollars on your tax return, then you need to keep careful track of your travel dates. If you plan to qualify via the Physical Presence Test, then you must be physically present in a foreign country for 330 full days. This means that the time spent in between – be it travelling by air or sea – does not count. If you prefer the bona fide resident test, then you must establish a residence in a foreign country and reside in this country for an entire uninterrupted tax year. You are not subject to this foreign country’s income tax laws (although this is determined on a case to case basis).

2. You Must File

If your worldwide income exceeds the filing threshold (this varies by filing status), then you are legally required to file US federal tax for expats every single year. What is considered income? Any wages, including non-US sources, interest, dividends, and rental income. If you are self-employed while living abroad, then the threshold is $400, regardless of your filing status. Even if you may not have to file, you still should because you could be missing out on certain credits and refunds. US taxpayers who live outside of the US also receive a filing extension. But be careful, if you owe US taxes, then they are due before the extension, or else you could face penalties and interest.

3. State Tax Return

Some states will require you to file a tax return even when you are living abroad, and this is determined by a critical component: is the taxpayer intent on returning? Every state has a different ruling regarding temporary and permanent places of abode. These rulings will determine whether or not you are still considered a resident, and therefore, must file. California, New Mexico, North Carolina, and New York are all states that will most likely require tax for expats, so you’ll have to file a state tax return.

4. Social Security

Not everyone will have their benefits taxed, but you are still required to claim any social security benefits as income on your US tax for expats. The general rule for whether or not these benefits are subject to tax is based on your other income. If you have other income, your benefits will be taxed, but only 85% can be considered taxable income.

5. FATCA

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is intended to prevent US taxpayer from hiding additional money in offshore accounts and assets. Form 8938 should be filed if any income or financial asset exceeds the filing threshold – which is determined by filing status and residency on your tax for expats.

Simple Answers to Complicated Offshore Asset Protection

These days, the speciousness of offshore asset protection, the anxiety with which one may consider their merits and drawbacks, as well as the frequency of these considerations all appear to be coextensive. In the wake of the Paradise Papers and the Panama Papers scandals, many are understandably (whether justifiability is moot) anxiety-ridden and up in arms over the potential legal and ethical implications of protecting their assets. While, indeed, there are some instances where offshore financing strays past the threshold of legality, there are many more instances where investing in the security and maintenance of one’s hard-earned assets, liquid and locked, is perfectly legal—not to mention socially accepted, expected, and time-tested. For example, entities and individuals that hold assets in some Islamic nations may decide to establish foreign asset accounts in order to circumvent Islamic inheritance jurisprudence, which posits that only relatives with a direct blood relationship to the passed relative may claim inheritor status. In a similar vein, estate planning is a means of minimizing the incursion of gift and income tax in making claim to an inheritance—and is indeed considered tax avoidance, although a legal species thereof.

More commonly, offshore asset protection consists of managing one’s assets by way of a business entity in an alien jurisdiction with more complimentary laws. Such foreign entities serve as a line of defense between the products of your labor, past inheritance, gifts, and creditors, such as the American government represented by the IRS. It is helpful to think of such offshore protectors as tools in a kit: as there are different instances where a given tool proves its utility over others, so are there certain situations where one type of offshore asset protection will benefit the account holder more than other types. Sartorially and simply, you must tailor your type of protection for that against which you wish to protect yourself.

Types Vulnerabilities and Types of Protection

Although it is easy to establish trusts, partnerships, and corporations in the United States, there are still other countries that have laws more agreeable to not only the security of your assets from creditors and tax institutions, but also to the privacy of your dealings within that offshore asset protection. One elegantly illustrative example: say that you live in Detroit but must commute to Windsor, Canada, for work. During your commute, you receive a speeding ticket from Canadian police. Say that commute was your last, and you no longer work in Windsor: you will never be compelled to pay your ticket by United States officials because the US is not in the business of collecting money for other countries. Likewise, in an offshore account, the country of holding will not collect taxes for the United States.

This example has another relevant facet: the person commuting is not an extravagantly wealthy person; similarly, the benefits of employing an offshore asset protection strategy are not limited to the wealthy—it is not reserved for the likes of those involved with such scandals as the Panama Papers. Anyone is liable to be judged against in a lawsuit, which can open up that person’s current and future assets to possible claim.

Additionally, you are likely reading this article on a screen, online: the fact that information is so readily available and so remotely accessible today correlates to a higher level of vulnerability towards identity theft and digitally managed fraud. By securing assets either manifestly or digitally in offshore holdings, you can muster more material defenses against such attacks than with a mere social security number. Also relevant here, as mentioned earlier, is the notion of privacy—a luxury rapidly reducing in today’s digital world economy—social and financial! Securing your assets in a name or under an entity not explicitly associated with your person in offshore asset protection will not only ease your mind, but it will also allow for more fluid and creative development of your personal wealth.

Managing privacy does not, of course, excuse someone from acting outside the purview of the law. To be sure, however, it allows the law to work more favorably for you, rather than against someone trying to injure you and your wealth—a small but crucial distinction. Also regarding law, it must be noted that offshore asset protection will not excuse an account holder from paying US taxes.

Understanding Tax for Expats

If you have moved to another country or are planning to move to another country, you know that the monumental number of things you have to deal with can be overwhelming. Sometimes overlooked is the tax for expats, which allows the IRS to tax any U.S. citizen for life or Resident Alien (Green Card Holder) within the last 10 years. If you renunciate or lose your citizenship, you can still be taxed for up to 10 years.

What Do I Need to Submit?

When you are filing tax for expats, there are a few things you should file, but it’s always recommended, whether you are living in the country or international, that you file your income tax no matter what. It becomes mandatory for you to file taxes once your worldwide income exceeds a certain threshold, which varies by filing status.

For tax for expats purposes, income includes:

  • Wages and salary from US and non-US sources
  • Interest
  • Dividends
  • Rental incomes

Along with your normal filings, for tax for expats, you will be required to submit an FBAR, Foreign Bank Account Report (FinCEN form 114), if the total balances in all your worldwide bank accounts exceeds $10,000 (including investments, pensions, and signatory authority accounts). Even if your accounts exceed by $10,000 or by $1 for only one day, or even one minute, you must file an FBAR. As well, if certain financial assets exceed filing thresholds, you will be required to submit a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) IRS Form 8938. FBAR and FATCA are similar filings, but they are separate, and you may be required to file either, both, or neither.

How Can I Reduce How Much I Owe?

When you file your tax for expats, there are many different credits and exclusions you can take advantage of. Foreign Earned income Exclusion (FEIE IRS Form 2555) allows you to exclude a certain amount of income from US taxation: $102,100 for the 2017 tax year, which reduces the total earned income that will be taxed by the US. If you use the FEIE, you cannot exclude incomes such as pensions, interest, capital gains, and US-sources incomes. A physical presence test must be passed in order to quality for the FEIE, which requires you to prove that you have been inside a foreign country for 330 of any 365-day period.

Foreign Housing Exclusion allows you to reduce your tax for expats amount by excluding housing expenses, such as utilities and rent.

The Foreign Tax Credit (IRS Form 1116) allows you to subtract the tax for expats on an income that is already taxed by a foreign country, as long as it is not already excluded by the FEIE.

The Child Tax Credit is also available if you have dependent US children that have US Social Security numbers. However, any dependent child you apply for a tax for expats credit for will be considered US persons and will have tax obligations for life as an adult.

Does Expat Tax Affect My Social Security?

If you have plans on retiring and living abroad, you can rest easy when you do your tax for expats knowing that you can still receive Social Security benefits. If you happen to live in a country in which you cannot receive benefits, you can still receive any US Social Security payments you missed if you move to a country that you can receive them in. Your benefits may be taxed, so you should remove them as income on your tax return, especially if you have other income. If they do get taxed, it will only be 85% of your benefits that will be considered taxable. There are totalization agreements with 26 countries to determine which country you will pay Social Security taxes to. You will be able to earn credits in one country and use them for calculations of benefits in another, thus you don’t have to pay into two systems and will only receive a single benefit.

When Do I Have to Submit My Taxes?

When you submit your tax for expats, the due date will be the same as it is for someone who is living within the US. However, you will receive an automatic two-month extension, but any US taxes owed are still due by the original date if you want to avoid penalties and interest. If at any point you move back to the US, your tax deadline will be the normal deadline date, but you may still be eligible for any expat tax deductions and exclusions for that year.

What if I Make a Mistake?

If you make a mistake with your tax for expats, you can amend previous returns using a 1040X form as soon as possible to avoid penalties. If you missed previous years, you can use the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures to get your taxes compliant again.

Tax for Expats – Expat Tax Preparation: When and Where to File

Globalization has disintegrated boarders between countries and made them disappear, making the world smaller. Undoubtedly, this has increased the number of workers who choose to move overseas and become expats, but how does this work when it comes to tax for expats?

The increase in American expats hasn’t made the process easier; in addition to the demands of moving to another country to work, United States tax laws continue to cause tax stress for expats. Although tax laws for expats has been around for years, its much easier for the IRS to enforce them because of tax systems and banking. If you’re an expatriate working in another country, if you don’t follow tax for expats, and if you owe over $50,000 in taxes (including interest and penalties), you can have your passport revoked.

Tax for Expats and the IRS

In 2014, the IRS introduced a modified amnesty program called the Streamlined Procedure. This allows expats who are behind on their United States tax filing to catch up on back taxes without penalty; and it allows them to retro-claim exemptions to prevent them paying double taxes, such as the Foreign Tax Credit and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. In the end, many US citizens often don’t end up owing any taxes to the IRS, but they still must file.

Tax for Expats – Expat Tax Preparation: When and Where to File

Tax season is nearing with the deadline approaching soon. As an American expat, you’re probably overwhelmed because filing your taxes is complicated. But you don’t need to be. Whether you’re used to doing your own taxes, or whether you prefer to get help from an expat tax professional, there are some tips to help you decide which way to file your taxes.

Tax for Expats: Getting Started – Expat Tax Preparation Tips When and Where to File

Before filing your tax for expats, you should understand the basics. For example, you must report your world-wide income if your income falls under the following guidelines:

  • You’re self-employed and your income is above $400/yr.
  • You’re single and your income is over $10,300/yr.
  • You’re married and filing taxes jointly and your income is over $20,600/yr.
  • You’re the head of your household and your income is over $13,250/yr.

Tax for Expats – Income Threshold: If your income is above one of these thresholds, you must file a US expat tax return. However, you might not owe any money to the IRS.

Tax for Expats: Gather the correct documents and forms early. These include your previous tax year filing, travel calendar, income documents, deduction documents, and Foreign bank account information. If you’re a meticulous record keeper, filing your expat taxes should be a breeze.

If you’re in doubt about filing tax for expats, you should seek help from a professional tax expert. This also applies if you have more than one income.

Tax for Expats – When to File

If you’re a United States citizen, the rules for filing your income, gift tax returns, estate, and paying estimated taxes are the same, whether you’re living abroad or in the U.S. Thus, your worldwide income is subject to American income tax, regardless of where you live, and you must file your taxes by April 15.

Military Tax for Expats: It’s important to note that, if you’re in the military on duty outside the United States, on the regular date of your return, you’re given an automatic two-month filing extension without having to request one. For example, on a calendar year return, the automatic extension is to June 15. But you must pay any owing taxes by April 15 or interest will be charged.

Tax for Expats – Where to File

If you’re an American living in a foreign country, mail your U.S. tax return to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Austin, TX 73301-0215, USA.

Tax for Expats – Electronic Filing (e-File)

If you’re a taxpayer with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) within a specified threshold, you can file your expat tax return electronically using Free File, which is free. If your AGI is greater than the threshold, you can use the Free File Fillable Forms or e-file by buying commercial software.

Tax for expats can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first-time filing. If you’re ever in doubt about when and where to file, or how to complete the forms, seek help from a tax professional.

Tips on How to Choose an International Tax Consultant

In today’s world, everyone is connected in an unprecedented way. With continuous advancements in technology, the world seems to become a bit smaller with each passing day. Although the world is more interconnected than ever before, taxation can become very complicated as you cross national borders. For businesses that have to comply with the rules set out in each country in which they operate, international taxation can be a daunting issue to deal with. For those companies that operate internationally, simply filing your taxes every year can become a major source of stress and confusion, especially since the laws of each country vary so greatly. Fortunately, international tax consultants are well-versed in the many nuances of international taxation, making them an invaluable asset to many companies during tax season and beyond.

International Taxation and the Issues Involved

Tax season can be difficult for any individual or company to deal with. It is frustrating and difficult for those who don’t have to work with taxation on a regular basis. This process becomes much more complicated when considering a multi-national corporation. Businesses must file and contribute to the taxes not only within their country of origin, but also in every country in which they operate. For some, this can include numerous different locations, all with their own rules and regulations regarding taxation. As a business owner, it can be difficult to know what the best course of action is when it comes to taking care of this issue. There are complex tax issues that are encountered when filing taxes on an international level, all of which need to be completed using the highest attention to detail. Failure to do so may cost you; mistakes in your reports can prompt an IRS investigation or an equivalent investigation by the tax authorities in other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, for business owners, it is the sole responsibility of these international businesses to ensure that accurate tax compliance policies are in place for every country in which they operate. This is how international tax consultants help businesses continue to thrive in other countries, outside of their nation of origin. Attempting to maximize tax efficiency by lowering a business’ overall effective tax rate – while also remaining compliant at all times – requires planning and knowledge that far surpasses what many individuals are capable of achieving. As not every business owner may have this experience, international tax consultants ensure that every detail is taken care of so everyone involved in the company can focus on the rest of their business operations.

What Does an International Tax Consultant Do?

An international tax consultant is hired to help a multi-national corporation or business take care of any international taxation needs that they may encounter. They attempt to maximize tax efficiency by lowering a business’ overall effective tax rate while still continually remaining compliant within each country in which the business operates. This requires a vast knowledge of the particulars of taxation processes, as well as how taxation differs across multiple borders. The fact that the world is more interconnected than ever before is an absolute dream to businesses, but international taxation issues are still problems that dampen the excitement of doing business around the globe. An international tax consultant will take care of everything tax-related so that the other members of the corporate team can focus on actually running their business.

How to Choose an International Tax Consultant

An international tax consultant needs to have a number of skills in order to successfully help a business comply with international laws concerning taxes. Looking for international tax consultants who work for a business themselves – rather than freelance or as independent consultants of any kind – can help ensure that they know the details necessary to care for the taxation issues that a large business might face. Looking for companies that operate in multiple time zones is also helpful, ensuring that the consultants that you work with have the flexibility required to do international work. The best international tax consultants also speak multiple languages, making communication with clients and partners smooth and effortless. This also reduces the need for document translation when it comes to filling out any specific tax forms. International tax consultants stay up-to-date with what is required so that you never have to.

How Important are Outsourced Accounting Services

Accounting is one of the most important units of running a business successfully. If you are running a business, then you need to take care of the finances of your company. But, it might not be one of the core focus areas for you. In such cases, outsourcing the accounting services of your company, would be a wise decision. It would keep you away from the financial statements that you would have to manage otherwise. There are a wide range of advantages on outsourcing your accounting services. But before you know about the advantages that the outsourcing services offer, let us first talk about what you could expect from such accounting services in Roswell, GA or the rest of the United States.

a. Bookkeeping: The accounting services allow to maintain your daily finances. Depending on the size of your business, managing the cash flows, profits and losses could be done on a daily basis, weekly or monthly. The accounting services would help maintain all of this for you.

b. Budgeting and cash flow management: Also, they would help in managing the budget of your company and help in keeping up the future business projections. They would help in providing data that would help your company immensely in predicting the future business trends.

c. Helping hand in developing business model: Not only in maintaining the business cash flows, the accounting services could be of use while creating the business model. These services would have the efficiency to deal with the entire financial structure of the organization. This would help in making your business statutory compliant too.

Apart from this, the external accountant would also help in:

1. More professional approach to your business finances: The outsourcing companies make sure that they hire the best talent. Hence you can be rest assured that your finances are managed by the best in the industry. Also, they make use of the latest software’s which makes sure that your finances are up to date.

2. Reduced cost of operations: Depending on the size of your business, your finances would have to be maintained either on a daily basis, or on a monthly basis or quarterly. But, if you hire a full-time accountant, there are chances that he/she would not have to work all throughout the year. This would result in unnecessary increase in your operation charges. But with the help of an accountancy service, you could hire an accountant at that time of the year, when you require the most. This way, you could save a lot of money in your operations.

3. Better guidance in managing finances: Since the outsourced accountants are well versed in their job, they would provide better guidance and assistance in all your finances. They could help you in your tax issues and also in making the financial model for your business. Based on your requirement, you could use the proficiency of the outsourced accountancy services.

4. Confidentiality: For all the businesses, confidentiality of finances is a crucial element. You would not want your finance details to end up in the wrong hands. Outsourcing your finance to accountancy services, guarantees you with the credentials of the people working with you. The outsourced accountancy agencies make sure that they do a detailed background verification of the candidates working with your finances.

5. Do your work! Forget your worries: If you are running your business, bookkeeping should be the last item in the to-do list, so that you could focus all your effort in running your actual core business. Hiring an accountancy agency would help you focus on your core business without having to spend more effort in managing only the finances.

Benefits of Outsourcing Accounting Services

Businesses are always under pressure to cut costs and increase efficiency at the same time.  According to Deloitte’s CFO Signal Survey, the majority of the CFOs spend 12-15 hours in their offices and out of this a large amount of time is spent in checking and rechecking accounts and performing the analysis. This results in delyaed or ignored decisions that are important for business growth.

Financial experts believe CFOs cannot afford to spend a large amount of time in validation and manual reporting. Also, continuous manual reporting executed by internal account executives might have errors if the burden is too much.

There is no doubt manual reporting from internal employees and the insights generated from these reports help CFOs take informed decisions. But the possibility of errors and the increasing burden on accounting staff cannot be ignored. Hence many businesses choose to outsource their accounting to Bookkeeping services in Atlanta.

Apart from saving the time of CFOs, here are a few benefits of outsourcing accounting services.

Reduced Risks

When you shift the accounting function to Accounting Services in Roswell, GA, you also transfer the risks associated with the function to them. It is the responsibility of the F&A service providers to deliver the functions on time and without errors.  You don’t need to manage risks such as missed deadlines due to unexpected system downtime or employee adsence.

Minimal Errors

You cannot guarantee perfect accounting unless it goes through multiple reviews. But that’s  time-consuming and expensive as organizations need to to dedicate special staff to check errors in the processes. Bookkeeping services in Atlanta have multiple levels of review built-in into Financial and Accounting processes which mean they are more likely to catch errors in time without damaging your pocket with unnecessary expenses such as employee and system costs and more.

Improved Compliance

The regulatory environment keeps changing in frequent intervals. The flows of new rules across regional and national boundaries make compliance a moving target. No matter, what industry sector, or regions you operate in, any irregularities in financial and accounting invite enforcement actions which also brings reputational risk.

Armed with up-to-date knowledge of tax regulations and accounting principles, the experts in Financial and Accounting services are ideally positioned to help. They can help your accounting and finance to stay on track and their persistent focus on adding value make your F&A more regulatory compliant.

Take Away the Need of Sub-Contracting

There is a common practice followed by businesses to ease workloads is bringing in contingent workforce. But, there is a problem.

There can be peak and valleys in monthly, quarterly and annual F&A workloads. Businesses need to manage contingent staff on a regular basis and also need to make sure the entire activity is cost-effective.

When you outsource F&A to Accountants in Atlanta, you don’t need to make any resource management planning. Also, F&A service providers take into account the scalability depending on the project scope and try to deliver to their clients lower per-unit resource cost.

Take Advantage of Special Expertise

The F&A service provider is more likely to have the much larger specialized staff to do the accounting work. The provider can also ensure a team of expert outsourced accountants can work on your project within complex rules and regulations or at crucial times.  If you try to do this in-house it would not be cost effective and could turn out to be hectic as well.

Lower Costs Towards Technology and Improvements

Advanced financial technology solutions are often costly and so are the upgrades. When you outsource your accounting services, you don’t have to invest in purchasing advanced financial solutions. The F&A service provider invests in all advanced technology solutions needed for their clients. Thus in an indirect way, your company gets benefits of advanced technology at lower costs.

Focus on Revenue Generation

By outsourcing accounting services, the top management gets freedom from worries and can focus on core business activities that are important for revenue generation.

By employing a specialist Accounting Services in Roswell, GA, you will have an expert advice by your side and also have a peace of mind knowing that your accounting is managed by knowledgeable, qualified, and experienced professionals in the field.

Do you have any questions or want to learn more? Please feel free to comment.

How Can a Professional Website Design Company Boost Your Accounting Business?

The world of Internet is changing rapidly. Today websites need to be more than the face of the business on the Internet. Professional looking website design styles can bolster your business while adopting a general website design can drag you down in Google search results.

If you are planning to create a website for your accounting firm,hiring a professional website design company that knows all the evergreen approaches of designing an accounting website is crucial. Here are some benefits of hiring a professional website design service provider.

Professional Looking Website

People can be very judgmental and it is important to ensure that your marketing collaterals delivers your firm’s position and promise. According to Peep Laja, a marketing expert, it takes only 1/10th of the second to form an opinion about a person, and websites are no different. Your accounting website design has to play an important role- Make the best first impression on the visitor.

An authentic looking professional design gets people to trust your business and make them stick around. The longer they stay on your website the more opportunities arise to convert visitors into your clients.

Makes Your Site User Friendly

Usability is an important factor in conversions. It is necessary that your website is easy to navigate and visitors are able to quickly find the information they seek. If your website is confusing and complex , the visitor is more likely to abandon your website and visit your competitor’s website. A professional web designer can design a website that has a high usability factor that leads to satisfied and happy visitors.

Helps in Clear Communication

It is quite evident that people may not know your business like you do. It is a common mistake to assume that your visitors will see your website like you do and also know the benefits of the services. A good accounting website design plays another important role in communicating your message.

Your homepage and other service pages should provide a clear picture about your business.  Professional website designers use different elements such as elevated messages, images, icons, text, titles and headers that tell what you do and how you can help the visitor.

When your accounting website design is clean and easy to understand, visitors feel that they have saved time and will always recommend your site to others.

Displaying Your Expertise

One of the benefits of hiring a professional website designer is to get his help in showcasing your field expertise. This is primarily achieved by offering authencity, mobile app, and specialized products/processes, making you stand out from the rest of your competition.

Help Your Business Cut Through Competition

A professionally designed website gives your visitor confidence about your services.  By making great first impressions, you can convert a maximum number of visitors into customers.  Great first impressions will help you cut through the high competition and give you advantage over your competitors

Ensure Your Website is Search Engine Optimized

A great looking website will not ensure a steady flow of visitors, but a search engine optimized website will. Web designers can design SEO friendly website for your accounting firm.

Some of the SEO friendly strategies that will help your website are phrases or keywords strategically displayed on your website, page titles, and sitemaps for search engines. With all these search engine optimization techniques, your website is bound to appear high in search engine rankings that mean more customers.

Establish Business Credibility

A professionally designed website design provides a strong foundation when competing with bigger businesses. It can make your small accounting business look like a large company. By hiring a leading accounting website design company, one can expect flourishing business on the internet.

A professional website design company will ensure your website represents your business just the way you want. The looks and content of your website is evaluated by thousands of visitors to judge the knowledge and competence of your accounting business.

So don’t take a chance. Leave the website development to trusted professionals only.

How You Can Prepare Yourself for a Licensing Audit

So, you’ve been notified that your company will be undergoing a licensing audit. Your initial feeling is panic. Perhaps you weren’t prepared for this or thought that it may never happen. But, the time has come, and now you’ve got to make sure that everything is in place and good to go for the auditors. But what does it mean to get everything together? What exactly do you need when you’re preparing for an audit?

The act of being audited isn’t actually as scary as it seems if you’ve been truthful and responsible. But even then, the stigma on the word ‘audit’ makes everyone a little bit uneasy, even if they aren’t quite sure what it means. To break it down into simple terms, an audit is defined as ‘an official inspection of an individual’s or organization’s accounts, typically by an independent body’. A licensing audit is very similar to a regular audit, which often reviews assets by reviewing the licensing agreements and making sure that the licensees are following the contractual agreements set out in the partnership between the licensee and the licensor, and by making sure that the licensor is receiving their required payments.

There are many ways that licensees can prepare for a licensing audit (smallbusiness.chron.com/prepare-checklist-audit-13465.html) once they find out it will be taking place. Use the following tips to make sure you are ready to go when the auditor comes knocking.

Be prepared

It sounds weird, but one way to prepare for a licensing audit is to be prepared. This is not meant in the sense of overall preparedness (physical and emotional), but instead in the organizational sense. Many organizations will just sit and wait for the auditor to come and audit away. This is not a good approach to take. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, you can easily fix them ahead of time, before an auditor has the chance to come and find it for themselves. By having all of your paperwork and other items collected and ready to go, you are already ahead of the game. And once the auditor has conducted the audit, you are obligated to have a look at the findings, and should completely utilize this option. By doing so, you will also be making sure that the auditor has not missed any licenses that you are actually entitled to but have not been issued.

Become familiar with your licensing agreements

It is important to understand exactly what your licensing agreement or agreements entail. Review it and then review it again with your attorney or other legal counsel to make sure you understand exactly what is in it and what your rights are as a license holder. The better the knowledge you have of your license agreement, the better your position will be when it comes time for an audit. Understanding every aspect of your license will ensure that you do not overlook or make any mistakes that could cause your company to lose money.

Pre-audit yourself

Don’t wait for an auditor to come and audit you; do a pre-audit of yourself and see what kind of standing you are in. This will allow you to prepare for the upcoming audit. Conducting an audit yourself will allow you to uncover any possible issues and then have a chance to fix them yourself. By doing this, you are avoiding the fines and possible legal problems that can arise from these issues.

Create a system for monitoring your licenses

Once you are able to, it is important to create an effective system for monitoring your licensing agreements. This way you can make sure you know how many licenses you are currently involved in and can keep track of which ones have lapsed or which ones you have gotten behind on.

Licensing audits are no laughing matter, and they definitely aren’t an easy thing to deal with. However, some of the stress can be taken off of you if you do your due diligence and prepare yourself accordingly for your upcoming audit. Getting yourself organized, becoming knowledgeable about your licenses, pre-auditing yourself before the actual audit and creating a monitoring system for your current licenses can set you up for success by making sure that you do not get in to trouble during this audit or any audits in the future.

Why Attorneys and Law Firms Should Care About Accounting

Standing on the outside, it seems obvious that law and finance are two different categories – each with an area of specialty that requires education, training and experience in order to be considered an expert in the field. Not always so obvious is the connection between the two. Before computers, the ledgers kept by a business were labor-intensive – transcribed with paper and ink, where mistakes were indelible and lived on forever unless the entire page was rewritten. Regardless of whether the “contra-entry” ledger or the “append-only” ledger is used, the ledgers are the ledgers are the ledgers. When analyzed more closely – law and numbers share surprising similarities. When the question is asked, why attorneys and law firms should care about accounting, it’s because accounting for law firms unfolds connections to daily life and law.

Law vs. Finance

An article (blog.law.cornell.edu/voxpop/2012/11/16/digital-law-what-lawyers-need-to-learn-from-accountants/) from a Digital Law class at Cornell University titled, “What lawyers need to learn from accountants,” walks the reader through legal corpus management in a prototypical U.S. legislature from the perspective of an accountant. This basically explains how accounting concepts can be applied to government bills and accountability for the term of a government. Take it one step further and apply accounting concepts to daily life. Every relationship has both surplus and deficits that can be managed on an emotional balance sheet. Why should attorneys and law firms care about accounting? Because accountants provide the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to quickly recognize issues and challenges that impact law practices – and provide solutions, without reinventing the wheel in the process. Lawyers rely on accountants for their financial livelihoods. Woe to the law firm that tries to manage its finances without the assistance of an accounting professional.

Day-to-day Needs

Imagine trying to organize finances for a large law firm without the help of an accounting firm. There are salaries, bonuses, and files in progress, expenses, and other assets that need to be considered. That’s known as capital structure – how a firm finances its overall operations and growth by using different sources of funds. Maybe the firm is looking for ways to save money – attorneys and law firms should care that an accounting firm can conduct profitability improvement studies in order to cut fat and improve targets. Big firms charge billable hours for their time – that’s a full-time job to manage for one lawyer, not including the larger firms that can employ hundreds of lawyers.

Operational Reviews

A profitability improvement study is different than an operational review because an operational review refers to the act of examining the way in which a company or department works to see how it can be made more efficient and profitable. Obviously there are some similarities. The primary goal of an operational review is to assess the effectiveness of internal operating processes and procedures designed to support and fulfill the customer’s service level requirements – as well as how improvements can be made. For any business profit is the bottom line – lawyers and accountants are no different. Attorneys and law firms should care about accounting efficiencies as a business best practice in order to ensure that they are complying with State Bar regulations, as well as maintaining quality staff and happy clients.

Firm Dissolution

All good things eventually come to an end. The encore follows the opening act, the foam is followed by the dregs of a beer – and law practices eventually dissolve. Partners retire, new partners are brought in and associates are promoted to partners. Change is inevitable, the only certainty in the world aside from death and taxes –both which require lawyers and accountants. Dissolving a partnership is one way to close down a law firm and there are a variety of reasons for it. That’s why attorneys and law firms should care about accounting; it provides the education and experience as well as the ability to make solidly-based decisions on when and why it’s prudent to dissolve or restructure.

In a law office, accounting firms refers to keeping track of money flowing in and out. This is important for the lawyers, clients, record-keeping and above all, trust. Why should attorneys and law firms care about accounting, because they can run a more efficient and effective practice, understand, question and use financial reports and information and make changes based on the information. The professions remain incontrovertibly intertwined.

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