SK CPAs and Business Advisors

SK CPAs and Business Advisors SK CPAs & Business Advisors provides tax, accounting, business valuation services.

Protecting Your Small Business: Essential Tips to Avoid Financial FraudFinancial fraud poses a significant threat to sma...

Protecting Your Small Business: Essential Tips to Avoid Financial Fraud

Financial fraud poses a significant threat to small businesses, as it can lead to severe financial losses, damaged reputations, and even business closure. As a small business owner, it is crucial to prioritize safeguarding your finances from fraudulent activities. Here are some key strategies and best practices to help you avoid falling victim to financial fraud, protecting both your bottom line and the trust of your customers and stakeholders.

Cultivate a Culture of Awareness: Creating a culture of awareness within your organization is the first step in preventing financial fraud. Train your employees to recognize the signs of fraudulent behavior, such as unexpected or unexplained financial discrepancies, unusual transactions, or irregularities in financial documents. Encourage open communication among your team members, making it easier for them to report any suspicious activities promptly. Regularly educate your team about the latest fraud schemes and the importance of following established financial protocols and security measures.

2. Implement Internal Controls: Establishing robust internal controls is vital for preventing financial fraud. Start by segregating financial duties among multiple employees to ensure no single individual has complete control over the entire financial process. Implement a system of checks and balances, with thorough reviews and approvals required for significant financial transactions. Regularly reconcile accounts, and conduct surprise audits to detect any discrepancies or irregularities. Use secure accounting software with strong password protection and limited user access to safeguard sensitive financial information.

Strengthen Cybersecurity Measures: In today’s digital age, cybercriminals pose a significant threat to small businesses. It is important to strengthen your cybersecurity measures by installing up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software on all company devices. Additionally, regularly update and patch your operating systems, software, and applications to address any known vulnerabilities. Don’t forget to train your employees on the importance of strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and safe internet practices, such as avoiding suspicious links and attachments. Finally, be sure to back up your data regularly, and store backups securely offsite or in the cloud.

Monitor Financial Transactions: To combat fraud, be sure to maintain a vigilant eye on your business’s financial transactions. Start by implementing a system for monitoring and reviewing all incoming and outgoing payments, bank statements, and credit card statements. Along the way, regularly reconcile financial records with bank statements to identify any discrepancies. It’s easy to set up alerts with your financial institution to receive notifications of any suspicious or unauthorized activities. Moreover, you can utilize advanced analytics tools to detect anomalies and potential fraudulent patterns in your financial data. Always stay informed about the latest payment fraud techniques, and collaborate with your bank or payment processors to implement additional security measures.

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Have you been considering creating a 401(k) plan as part of your employee benefits package but aren’t sure if it’s the r...

Have you been considering creating a 401(k) plan as part of your employee benefits package but aren’t sure if it’s the right move? Offering a 401(k) plan to employees can be a good idea for small businesses for several reasons:

Attract and retain top talent: Offering a 401(k) plan can make your small business more competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining top employees. Many employees consider a 401(k) plan an important benefit when choosing where to work.

Tax benefits: Small businesses that offer a 401(k) plan may be eligible for tax benefits, such as tax deductions for contributions made to the plan.
Employee savings: A 401(k) plan can help employees save for retirement, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and less financial stress.

Employer contributions: Employers can choose to make contributions to employees' 401(k) accounts, which can help attract and retain top talent and show that the company values its employees.

Employee education: Offering a 401(k) plan can provide an opportunity for employers to educate employees about retirement planning and investment options.

The Department of Labor offers a great resource for questions about establishing a 401(k) plan.

Need help creating and implementing a 401(k) for your business? The business advisors at Stitely and Karstetter can help. To learn more about our offerings and schedule a consultation visit our website ( or call us at (703) 802-2309 today!

Standard Mileage Rates Increase in 2023Business owners will be able to deduct three cents more per mile in 2023 when ope...

Standard Mileage Rates Increase in 2023

Business owners will be able to deduct three cents more per mile in 2023 when operating vehicles for business use, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The IRS recently announced the 2023 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. As of January 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickup trucks, or panel trucks) will be:

65.5 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3 cents from the midyear 2022.
14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, unchanged from 2022.

These rates apply to electric, hybrid-electric, gasoline, and diesel-powered vehicles.

“It is important to note that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses,” explained Frank Stitely, Stitely & Karstetter CPAs Managing Member and Business Advisor.

He added that self-employed taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

“Taxpayers can use the standard mileage rate but generally must opt to use it in the first year the car is available for business use.,” he continued. “Then, in later years, they can choose either the standard mileage rate or actual expenses.”

Leased vehicles must use the standard mileage rate method for the entire lease period (including renewals) if the standard mileage rate is chosen.

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Run Your Business with More Clarity – Outsourced CFO BenefitsAs a business owner, managing finances and making informed ...

Run Your Business with More Clarity – Outsourced CFO Benefits

As a business owner, managing finances and making informed financial decisions are crucial for long-term success. However, few small businesses can afford a full-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO). That’s where outsourced CFO services come in. Outsourcing your financial management to a skilled and experienced CFO service can bring numerous benefits to your business.

Streamlined Financial Strategy

Outsourced CFOs bring their expertise and knowledge to the table, helping you develop a streamlined financial strategy for your business. They analyze your financial data, identify areas of improvement, and provide valuable insights to make informed decisions. With their assistance, you can set clear financial goals, allocate resources effectively, and optimize your overall financial performance. By outsourcing CFO services, you gain access to expert advice without the cost of hiring a full-time executive, allowing you to focus on running your business more efficiently.

Cost Savings

Hiring a full-time CFO can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Outsourcing this role allows you to save on recruitment, salary, benefits, training, and office space costs. These outsourced services typically offer flexible pricing options tailored to your business’s needs and budget. This cost-effective approach ensures that you receive professional financial guidance without the burden of hefty overhead expenses. You can redirect these savings towards business growth, innovation, or investing in other key areas.

Enhanced Financial Reporting

Accurate and timely financial reporting is crucial for making informed business decisions. Outsourced CFOs use advanced accounting systems and tools to provide detailed financial reports that offer a comprehensive view of your company’s performance. These reports help you understand your financial health, track key performance indicators, and identify trends. Armed with this information, you can make data-driven decisions and respond swiftly to challenges or opportunities. The expertise and professionalism of outsourced CFOs ensure the accuracy and reliability of your financial reporting, instilling confidence in stakeholders and potential investors.

Outsourced CFO services provide businesses with the expertise and support they need to run their operations with more clarity. By leveraging the knowledge of experienced financial professionals, businesses can develop streamlined financial strategies, reduce costs, and enhance their financial reporting capabilities. Outsourcing your CFO allows you to tap into high-level financial guidance without the expense of a full-time executive. With the assistance of an outsourced CFO, you can optimize your financial performance, make informed decisions, and achieve long-term business success.

Need advice on outsourcing your financial services? Contact your small business advisors at S&K today:

To start with, successful investing means a reliance on a mix of mathematical applications and other factors, like econo...

To start with, successful investing means a reliance on a mix of mathematical applications and other factors, like economic, political and industry analyses. On the flip side, gambling can mean either games of chance, such as roulette or slot machines, or tests of skill, like poker and blackjack. And speculation occupies an intermediate zone between the two.

The bottom line? Over the long run, prudent investing will make you richer, and gambling will make you poorer.

Risk and uncertainty

Investing, speculation and gambling are all undertaken to make money. They may all also provide excitement and fun.

At one end of a continuum comes investing, which involves committing capital to buying assets expected to increase in value over time and provide returns, either through dividend income or capital gains. The assets might be stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, commodities, currencies or real estate. Sophisticated alternatives include private equity, derivatives, options and hedge funds.

Next, speculation straddles a space between investing and gambling. It requires taking a calculated risk when an outcome is uncertain. The expected return should be positive, although that may not pan out, and probabilities of loss could be significant. Speculators take risk with the realization that they may end up underwater. In general, the greater the risks, the higher the potential for gains, and vice versa.

Gambling, at the extreme end of the scale, means betting on an unknowable outcome dependent on luck. (Games of skill, of course, depend on the judgment or abilities of players, along with chance, and may involve psychological tactics like bluffing.) Gamblers bet on random events, with no reliable system to predict what is coming next.

Apples and oranges — not just slot machines

Gambling and investing do share some characteristics. Both activities involve risk and choice, and interestingly, human participation plays a role throughout. However, important distinctions separate the functions.

First, investing is predicated on ownership, whatever the asset. Gamblers who place bets own nothing but a pile of plastic chips with some redeemable value. Investors actually own a share of a business, or the right to receive interest and dividend flows.

Second, different time frames apply. Gambling is normally a short-term exercise, while investing typically contemplates a longer duration. Patience is a huge virtue for investors; gamblers seek instant gratification. Remember that the stock market always has a long-term upward bias, driven by technological advances and productivity.

In formal terms, the longer you invest, the lower the variance in your returns, so much so that eventually they should converge on a long-term market average. To put the idea simply, remember that gambling odds always favor the house. The longer you play, the higher those odds climb. Investors, by contrast, have time on their side, amplified by the benefits of compounding.

Third, gambling requires little information, whereas investing taps multiple sources to develop an edge, from research, analyst reports and annual reports to conference calls. Gamblers just get a copy of the rules.

Risk management

Gamblers’ only risk management is to walk away from the table. Investors, however, can mitigate risk by using stop losses, diversification or rebalancing. If you spread your portfolio among asset classes and geographies, when one investment is exposed to risk the others will dilute the impact.

Keep in mind that gambling is a zero-sum game, because either a fellow player or the house is always your opponent. However, many investors can all win at once, especially if they stick to their guns, control emotions and do not bail prematurely.

Today's no-commission trading can blur the line between investing and gambling. Are you day trading or buying cult meme stocks with rollercoaster volatility?

We hope we've given you a lot to think about — and a lot of questions to ask about your situation. Work with qualified financial professionals to help get answers and to make sure you're on a disciplined financial path.

Is your hobby a business? It matters to the IRS. The agency says your hobby is a business if it operates to make a profi...

Is your hobby a business? It matters to the IRS. The agency says your hobby is a business if it operates to make a profit. But it's not a simple determination. To start with, intent matters.

Here are some factors the IRS offers to help you ascertain whether your hobby is a business:

You carry out your activity in a businesslike manner and maintain complete and accurate books and records.

The time and effort you put into the activity shows you intend to make it profitable.
You depend on income from your activity for your livelihood.

Your losses are indicative of a business. This is complicated: Losses are normal in a business's startup phase. Still, this may not necessarily indicate that the activity is not engaged in for profit. If the losses continue beyond a period in which it's customary to bring an operation to profit, then this may indicate the activity is not being engaged in for profit.

You change methods of operation to improve profitability.
You and your advisers have the knowledge needed to carry out the activity as a successful business.

You were successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past.
You can expect to make a future profit from the appreciation of assets used in the activity. The IRS will take into consideration whether you make a profit in some years and, if so, how much.

If the activity you're engaged in turns a profit, deductions are allowable for money spent for the production or collection of income or for the management, conservation or maintenance of property that brings you income. Deductions aren't allowable if your activities aren't turning a profit, including sports or things you do for recreation.

The IRS considers intent

The IRS uses no one factor to make the determination. A lot of the decision hinges on intent to derive profit. But here, too, it's fuzzy because greater weight is given to objective facts than to your statement of intent, according to the IRS. Here are some scenarios to consider:

If you attempt to develop new or superior techniques that may result in profit, then we're talking business.

How much time you devote to the activity that doesn't have substantial personal or recreational aspects may indicate your intention to make a profit.

If you stopped your usual occupation and devote most of your time and energy to another activity, it looks like a business to the IRS.

If you are employing qualified people to help, even though you are not spending significant time yourself — that looks like a business.

Assets used in your activity appreciate — even the land used in the activity. Though you point out that there's no intent to make a profit, if the value of land used increases, exceeding your expenses of operation, then you've made a profit.
Suppose in the past you've done a similar activity and took it from an unprofitable to a profitable undertaking. This may indicate that your present activity is for profit, even though it's presently unprofitable.

The amount of profit in relation to losses incurred in relation to your investment is important. An occasional small profit coming from an activity that generates large losses or from an activity you've made a large investment in wouldn't generally be an indication that you're engaged in your activity for profit. However, substantial profit, even occasionally, makes it look like you're in it for profit. If you don't seem to have substantial income or capital aside from your activity, that looks like you're expecting a profit from your so-called hobby.

If the losses from your activity generate substantial tax benefits, it may show that you're not so much interested in profit as in using losses on your tax return.
While intent is important in determining whether you're running a business or enjoying a hobby, the IRS looks at the income derived from the activity. Your lack of a profit objective may seem to indicate you're engaged in a hobby, but as you can see, many factors are considered in making this determination. The important takeaway here is to work closely with a tax professional.

3 Reasons To Pay Above the Minimum Wage Enacted in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act governs the federal minimum wage, ...

3 Reasons To Pay Above the Minimum Wage

Enacted in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act governs the federal minimum wage, among other things. Last increased in 2009, the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour. Many states and some localities have their own minimum wage laws that set the minimum higher than the national rate.

Minimum wage laws represent only the legal bare minimum. It does not mean that employers should not pay more. Below are three reasons to pay above the minimum wage.

1. The minimum wage might not be a livable wage.

According to a congressional report, "The real value of the federal minimum wage has declined 24% since 1968. Today, the federal minimum of $7.25 leaves an adult with two children thousands of dollars below the federal poverty threshold. This is unacceptable."

While some policymakers are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage for private-sector workers, the effort has been unsuccessful thus far. It's worth noting that an executive order raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for federal workers and contractors is now in effect.

In addition, many states and some localities have a minimum wage higher than that mandated by federal law. But the increases are oftentimes incremental and spread out over a period of years.

2. Higher wages improve morale and productivity.

A major concern for small businesses especially is that paying more than the minimum wage could eat away at their profits. Experts say this line of thinking is counterproductive because low wages are associated with various negative outcomes.

For example, employees may:

- Become financially stressed.
- Feel demoralized.
- Call in sick more frequently.
- Perform poorly at work.
- Leave the company for more competitive wages

Note that financial stress is linked to physical ailments such as:
- Migraines
- Anxiety
- Digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- A weakened immune system
- Muscle tension
- Heart arrhythmia

Along with enhancing employee well-being, higher wages improve organizational health by mitigating the costs of turnover.

3. Paying higher wages boosts quality of hire.

Jobs that pay the minimum wage are commonly found in the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries. One could argue that such jobs do not require much education or high-paying skills, therefore, low pay is justified.

However, it's important to remember that even if the job does not require much in the way of education or technical skills, other factors are vital to employee success. This includes soft skills like punctuality and reliability, the ability to follow instructions, trustworthiness, collaboration capabilities, and customer service etiquette. Employers that pay only the minimum wage may find it difficult to attract qualified candidates with these attributes.

Keep in mind, too, that you might be required to pay more than the minimum wage. For example, salaried employees who are exempt from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime pay requirements must receive no less than $684 per week. Check your local state laws as well.

Steps for a Disabled-friendly Workplace How do you get the best employees to work at your company? Start by making your ...

Steps for a Disabled-friendly Workplace

How do you get the best employees to work at your company? Start by making your company more inclusive. Even though you are not discriminating against employees with disabilities, you might not being doing all you can to make your workplace as disabled-friendly as possible. Here are five simple steps your business can implement to make your work environment more inclusive:

- Use technology, such as speech-to-text software to help a visually impaired employee, or captioning screens for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Partner with a nonprofit job-training agency in your community that provides job coaching for people with disabilities. This will enable you to understand what support employees may need at your company.
Include disability awareness throughout your company so that all employees understand the value of hiring a diverse workforce. You could include this information in diversity training, focusing on disability awareness and inclusion.

- Make your office or facility an accessible environment by seeing that restrooms, hallways and storage spaces are accessible for people of all heights and mobility.

- See that your online presence is more accessible by using alt tags that translate visual images and employs captioning on videos.

Scroll through our blog to read more:

Do You Qualify for Employer Retention Credits?For a separate charge unrelated to your Total Accounting Care fee, the Sti...

Do You Qualify for Employer Retention Credits?
For a separate charge unrelated to your Total Accounting Care fee, the Stitely and Karstetter (S&K) team can meet with you to offer guidance on the requirements to qualify, as well as file your tax credit application.
Are you confused about Employee Retention Tax Credit? The S&K Tax Division Team can help. The government recently released additional guidance on the requirements to qualify under “Partial Shutdown” rules. This means more clients may qualify than under original rules. Even if your quarterly revenue increased from 2019 to 2020 and/or to 2021, you may still qualify under the new rules.
The IRS says if your business has suffered a *full or partial suspension* of operations in any calendar quarter in 2020 or 2021, then you may qualify.
What IRS deemed a partial suspension/shutdown has been less than clear in the past.
Currently, our federal friends define this as “more than a nominal portion of business operations are suspended by a governmental order.” They then define “nominal” in this new notice as less than 10% of either total gross receipts of the business operations or the total hours of service performed by all employees.
What does that mean for you? More businesses may have been indirectly impacted by a governmental order, although they continued to operate. It will depend on whether the portions of your business that were affected by a shutdown order make up more than the “nominal” portion of your business.
What should you do next?
1. If S&K evaluated your business in the past and you did not qualify based on revenue, but believe your business was impacted by shutdown orders, please contact S&K to re-evaluate.
2. If you did not think you qualified in the past, but based on this new information, you are not sure, let S&K evaluate this for you.
3. If you have questions and wonder if you will now qualify, give S&K a call or shoot them an email!
Here is a quick reminder on the credits:
1. Tax year 2020 – $5k credit per $10k wages per employee per year – Max $5k per employee for the year.
2. Tax year 2021 – $7k credit per $10k wages per employee per QUARTER – Max $28k per employee for the year.
We at Total Accounting Care, along with our friends at S&K, are here to help, as these credits are extremely complex and have many other rules to follow.
We are rapidly assisting clients with applying for these credits and look forward to speaking with you and seeing if your business may also benefit from this additional guidance. Contact us today: 703-802-2309.

Significant Tax Credit For Business Owners Who Purchase Electric VehiclesBusiness owners who purchase electric vehicles ...

Significant Tax Credit For Business Owners Who Purchase Electric Vehicles

Business owners who purchase electric vehicles will be able to take advantage of a new tax credit worth up to $40,000 next year.

Last August, President Joe Biden signed The Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivizes purchasing electric cars, trucks, and other vehicles, into law. Business owners can obtain the credit, which is available for 10 years, for new vehicles purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

The credit is up to $7,500 for vehicles that weigh less than 14,000 pounds and up to $40,000 for vehicles that weigh more. This 14,000-pound demarcation line includes commercial vehicles that are Class 4 and above, or largely medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. These would include electric vehicles and electric “mobile machinery”—which are vehicles used for construction, processing, manufacturing, farming, mining, drilling, or timbering.

Calculating the tax credit is a bit complicated. It is worth the lesser of the two: 30% of the vehicle purchase price, or the “incremental cost” compared to a similar gasoline-powered vehicle. What does “incremental cost” mean? It’s simply the difference in net price between the new commercial “clean vehicle” and what a similar vehicle with an internal combustion engine would cost. The lesser of these two calculations equals the tax credit. However, the amount is capped at $40,000.

Because the benefit is structured as a “tax credit,” the business owner must have a tax liability in order to use it (unless the organization is a nonprofit, in which case the financial benefit would arrive in the form of a check). Additionally, the business owner must take a depreciation allowance on the vehicle.

Do you have questions about these new guidelines or other business-related tax matters? Reach out to us for a free consultation: 703-802-2309

Your company’s financial statements advertise your financial condition to the world. Bankers, potential investors, bondi...

Your company’s financial statements advertise your financial condition to the world. Bankers, potential investors, bonding companies, customers and vendors judge you not just by your performance, but by the content and presentation of your financial statements. Your access to capital and business opportunities depends on the accuracy and reliability of your financial statements.

Let us help you present the real story behind your business with our financial reporting services.

To learn more about our offerings and schedule a consultation visit our website ( or call us at (703) 802-2309 today!

How To Use a Qualified Personal Residence TrustIf you think you may face a gift tax issue, you may want a qualified pers...

How To Use a Qualified Personal Residence Trust

If you think you may face a gift tax issue, you may want a qualified personal residence trust—a type of irrevocable trust that can remove a house from an estate to reduce gift taxes when transferring it. Here's how it works: The taxable portion of your house is considered a future interest gift, but you can minimize it by using the estate and gift exemption.

You, your spouse and any dependents can continue to live in the residence without any changes while it's inside the trust. You live rent free and continue to pay any normal operating expenses so you can claim all appropriate income tax deductions.

But you only have a right to the residence for the trust-stated term, so your home isn’t as marketable as when you own your house outright. This of course increases the inconvenience to any creditors who can’t force you to sell your home. The longer the QPRT’s term, the larger your retained interest and the smaller the amount of gift tax exemption used.

After expiration

Once the term of the QPRT expires, you can still occupy your house, but you give up ownership to your beneficiaries. Then you pay a fair-market rent to keep living in your home, but that rent passes to the next generation without any gift tax implications.

You’ll appreciate the financial perks—a QPRT removes all future appreciation from your taxable estate while using little of your lifetime gift tax exemption. You’ll also be hedging against possible decreases in the shared lifetime gift tax and estate tax exemption. You’ll lock in the value of your residence for gift and estate tax purposes. You won’t have to worry about how much your house appreciates in value.

However, it's not without risk: The QPRT transaction will be completely undone if you die before the trust period ends. The value of your home will be reassessed and included in your taxable estate at its full fair market value as of the date of your death.

When would you want to employ a QPRT?

Let’s look at an example: You want to pass your house to your child, but right now, you don’t want to move out. You can reduce the tax impact on your estate with a QPRT for 10 years. Then, in 10 years, the house increases in value and the gains will be tax free so you as the parent only have to pay gift tax on the initial value of the house in the trust, not on the increased value.

Among the factors that make QPRTs less attractive are the provisions pertaining to the adjoining land, outliving the trust and selling the home before the term’s end. An heir who sells the home after the retained income period ends will owe capital gains taxes based on the difference between its value at the time the gift was made and the price of the sale. That’s why it’s better to use QPRTs with heirs who plan to keep the house in the family for generations.

Not everyone will need a QPRT, but for most people, their primary residence is the single most valuable asset they will leave their heirs. Talk with a financial professional to find out whether a QPRT or another technique is best suited for handing the family home to the next generation.


4460 Brookfield Corporate Drive , Suite F
Chantilly, VA

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