Business Tax Planning and Important 2017 Due Dates

Do you really want to make tax time a lot less stressful? Add your tax filing deadlines to your calendar right now, with lots of digital reminders to get it done! If it has been a challenge in the past, consider making a list of all the steps you need to take to be prepared, and breaking those steps down on your calendar with lots of digital reminders. Here is a typical list you might make, giving yourself time each day or week to work on the individual items:

  • appointment with tax accountant (these fill up fast, so today is a good day to arrange this!)
  • review last years taxes to see what forms will likely be due
  • add due dates for various filings to my calendar
  • make sure books are current
  • meet with tax accountant
  • confirm filings are ready to mail (a week before the deadline is nice!)

As a Colorado small business attorney, I know how stressful preparing for tax time is, so I am sharing some dates I hope will be helpful to you in planning and preparing for your tax payment deadlines. While it is easy enough to Google due dates, you may want to read over this list to make sure you have not forgotten anything. As always, be sure to check with the IRS or your accountant to make sure you are up to date on all the requirements.

Partnership Tax Returns

Partnership tax returns are due March 15, not April 15 as used to be the case. This change occurred in 2016. If your partnership isn’t on a calendar year, it is due on the 15th day of the third month following the close of your tax year.

Partnerships: Form 1065. This form is due on the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of the partnership’s tax year. Provide each partner with a copy of their Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) or substitute Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of the partnership’s tax year. Form 7004 is used to request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file Form 1065. ~IRS.gov

Corporations and S Corporations Tax Returns

Corps and S corp tax returns are due April 15th, not March 15 (if your tax year ends in December). The language is a little confusing, so ask your small business attorney or tax accountant for help if you are not sure what the IRS is trying to say. Here is the official wording:

Corporations and S Corporations Tax Returns: Form 1120 (or Form 7004). This form is due on the 15th day of the 4th month after the end of the corporation’s tax year. However, a corporation with a fiscal tax year ending June 30 must file by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of its tax year. A corporation with a short tax year ending anytime in June will be treated as if the short year ended on June 30, and must file by the 15th day of the 3rd month after the end of its tax year. ~IRS.gov

If you need more time to complete your 2016 business tax return, you can request an extension. Keep in mind, even if you file the extension, you are required to calculate how much you owe and send in the estimate by the due date – which means you will still need your accountant’s help prior to the deadline. Make that appointment now, to insure he or she can fit you in. If you do not include the estimated taxes, the IRS can invalidate your extension and you will be stuck with penalties.

Review these additional dates to make sure you are not forgetting something:

Individual Tax Returns – Tuesday, April 18

Because April 15th falls on the weekend again this year, individual tax returns (or request for extension) are due on Tuesday, April 18th. Normally, they would be due on Monday, April 17th, but a holiday impacts the due date this year:

The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday — April 17. However, Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in the District of Columbia — will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation. ~IRS.gov

Estimated Taxes

Before you worry about paying estimated taxes, make sure you need to.

Individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation shareholders, generally have to make estimated tax payments if they expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when their return is filed. Corporations generally have to make estimated tax payments if they expect to owe tax of $500 or more when their return is filed. ~IRS.gov

The IRS provides good guidelines for who does and does not need to pay estimated taxes. If you are not certain, check with your tax accountant sooner than later. If you do need to pay estimated taxes, be familiar with the following quarterly estimated tax due dates:

First Quarter Estimated Taxes
First quarter estimated taxes are due on the same day as your individual tax returns

Second Quarter Estimated Taxes – June 15th
No holidays or weekends will alter the June 15th second quarter estimated taxes due date.

Third Quarter Estimated Taxes – September 15th
Third quarter estimated taxes are due.

Fourth Quarter Estimated Taxes – January 15th, 2017
Fourth quarter estimated taxes are due.

Other Tax Due Dates and Deadlines

  • Last day to contribute to IRAs, HSAs, or 401Ks : Tuesday April 18th for 2017
  • Last day for Americans living abroad to file individual taxes: June 15th for 2017
  • FBAR aka FinCEN Form 114: The due date for foreign account FBAR forms, also known as FinCEN Form 114, goes from June 30 to April 15 (you can get a six-month extension, just like tax returns.) FBARs are important if you had foreign accounts that topped $10,000 at any time during the year.

If you need help figuring out your tax year, or need a good referral to a trustworthy and capable tax accountant, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Time, Money, and Talent: Three Keys to Inclusive Small Business Giving

As we approach the end of the year, many Colorado small business owners are thinking about philanthropic giving. In addition to the need to vet a chosen charity, finding a variety of ways that allow you and your team to offer time, money, or talent can insure all employees have an opportunity to give and no one feels left out.

Small Business Owners Value Time

If you are a small business owner, you know how valuable your time can be. It probably comes as no surprise that some of your employees are in the same boat – they might clock out after a forty-hour week, but they go home to lives that are busy. Asking them to give up a Saturday to plant trees, or volunteer at a shelter might be asking for much more than they can give. Does that mean you should not offer volunteer opportunities to your team? Absolutely not; but you should make sure that any philanthropic activity you engage in is inclusive and allows your team members to donate time, money, or talent as they are able. Here’s how:

Create Tiers of Time

If you offer an opportunity to volunteer time, make sure you create tiers of time; try to break up the activities associated with volunteering time into two or three levels of giving. In the same way that we are often invited to give what money we can, we can offer employees the chance to give what time they can, rather than asking everyone to give up an entire Saturday for a good cause. By offering a variety of activities with different time requirements which each support the core giving activity, we can find good ways to accommodate someone whose weekends are filled with family members who rely heavily on them, or are unavailable for other reasons.

Money Can Be the Preferred Way to Give

For some of your employees, money can be the preferred way to give. The key to tying that gift to a team effort is connecting the giving that comes from your organization to the people that it benefits. Go beyond the typical thermometer measure of how much was given and make sure those who gave money can see the impact it had. Find some way to connect the gift to actual people, not just to the numbers benefited, or the amount given. When a connection is made, and the impact of the gift is felt, giving cash can be as rewarding an experience as volunteering.

Talent Takes Time and Money

Some organizations need your abilities and those of your employees more than your cash or volunteer hours. A third way to consider giving is to offer the services of your employees as part of their work day. A precaution here: when an employer directs an employee to volunteer, that time is compensable. The regulations state:

Time spent in work for public or charitable purposes at the employer’s request, or under his direction or control, or while the employee is required to be on the premises, is working time.

In many ways, giving talent is the most costly way for you to give to charity; but you may be able to get real bang for your buck from a philanthropic perspective. Look for opportunities where you and your employees can offer to serve in ways the general public cannot. In the same way a legal firm can offer pro bono work, your team may have desperately needed specialized skills or talent. If your team can truly experience or see the impact of their gift, it can have great value to your organization as well as to the charity.

Still not sure how to get started? Kim Jensen of the Denver Business Journal gives six excellent tips on where to start, including tips to broaden inclusion, and even involve your customers and clients! As always, If you need help vetting a charity, or understanding the rules associated with charitable giving, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity

We all know people who are outrageously productive — the ones who seem to always have multiple balls in the air and can smile and juggle. How on earth do they do it?

The truth is that productivity is all about lifestyle habits. What do productive people do better than you, and in what order? As a small business owner, your life is busy enough with the demands of your business in addition to the demands of life in general. Here are five buckets productive people keep filled that might help you take back some of your time — and join those seemingly effortless jugglers you see around you.

Health
This may seem obvious, but good sleep, healthy eating, and a willingness to take breaks during the day (real-deal breaks like a walk outside or the occasional five minutes spent anywhere but in front of a computer screen) put you way ahead of the curve in terms of energy, clarity, and creativity. Being responsible for a small business is not for the faint of heart; keep yourself in fighting shape.

Delegation
Productive people know what they’re good at and how to make the most of the areas in which they — and others — excel. Do you need a CPA, a virtual assistant, or a freelance designer? They are only a few clicks away. Keep yourself focused on your area of business expertise and eagerly outsource the rest.

Time
This one is a little trickier to manage in the traditional business world, but entrepreneurs with more flexible schedules can be all over it. We all know our most productive times of day. For example, if you’re in the business of blogging and the time you’re most in the flow is from 6 to 10 a.m., dive in deep then. If you’re a night owl and you offer an online service, structure your work hours to take advantage of your most productive self. And if you are in a 9-5 business, stack your day so that your the critical tasks and meetings fall at your best time.

Execution
Being a perfectionist takes a lot of time. You’ll find that productive people don’t give in to this, even though they may want to. Sometimes you just need to take action and not overthink. Getting things done means, occasionally, that something less important can be an 8 out of 10 instead of a 10. Everyone will live.

Priorities
Deep down you know what’s urgent, what’s important, and what can wait. Any productive person knows how to set and hold boundaries around their to-do list. When you started your business, you knew what had to be done and in what order. Hold fast to that understanding and don’t be swayed by mini fires that can be extinguished by others — or left to smolder until you have time to stomp them out.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Employment Practices Liability Insurance: A Critical Ingredient for Sustained Business Success

By Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultants

Today’s business leaders have enough to juggle without the added stress of employment practices liability. Unfortunately, employers and other business leadership are now more vulnerable to employment practices suits than ever before. In fact, according to Bloomberg BNA, employment-related lawsuits recently reached a record high, with more than 7,000 cases filed in the year-long period ending in March 2012. And the Dayton Business Journal explains that they grew 35 percent between 2007 and 2010 alone. Meanwhile, other estimates suggest roughly three out of every five employees will sue their employer at some point—it can happen in any size business no matter how careful you are.

This clear upward trend is due in large part to the economic climate—more layoffs and increased economic concerns mean more concerned individuals are looking for a new cash stream.

Fortunately, business leaders can protect themselves from this growing threat with employment practices liability insurance.

What You Need to Know About Employer Employee Liability

Before we discuss the value of this particular form of coverage, we’ll walk you through the key points of employment practices litigation. Suits alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill, are the most common and easy to track—they are indeed the source of the statistics mentioned above. But a series of other laws apply to business leadership, too, including the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.

Together, that legislation may give all your employees—past, present, and future included—grounds to allege that you or other business leaders have abused their rights as individuals and employees. This means your entire business is held responsible, including directors.

There are several grounds for litigation. Many are based on the simple fact that the FLSA is outdated, coupled with outdated state law provisions, which can make it difficult for employers to properly classify employees as exempt or nonexempt. This misunderstanding can be extremely costly, considering that uncompensated “work” performed off the clock can be grounds for suit years after the fact. Other potential grounds for litigation focus around questions of discrimination, which, as difficult as they may seem to prove or disprove, can take a heavy toll on your bottom line. Questions of wrongful termination are also common, with multiple forms of legal grounds.

Unfortunately, even if your leadership team is made up of only the most trustworthy individuals, every single director has the potential to be a target for a suit no matter how good their intentions may be. And even if you are able to prove innocence in a court of law, the expenses of mounting legal defense are costly.

This all changes when you have reliable employment practices liability coverage.

Finding the Right Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Your Business

The bottom line is that litigation alleging wrongful employment actions is costly and difficult to address—and instances of it are on the rise. That means that nowadays, a strategic business plan must take employment liability risk into consideration. The loss you might face from even a single suit filed by a single employee—current, past, and potential—could itself be devastating. Multiply that by current trends and you can see the clear importance of protecting yourself from this liability.

The best forms of employment liability insurance will cover all your directors and officers. A comprehensive insurance plan will protect you against allegations and, when necessary, mitigate damage.

It is all part of maximizing your business success by lowering the total cost of human capital and maximizing your return on investment.

Talk to your insurance provider about their employment liability solutions. Or, for a quote on cost-effective coverage that services your bottom line and enhances your risk management, contact Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultant, today.

Even business owners need to recharge


This week, I was fortunate to be able to take some time and watch the USA Procycling Challenge with my family. We spent a few days in a very friendly hotel in Aspen, drove through gorgeous Glenwood Canyon, and ended the week at Denver City Park watching the bicyclists finish the race. It made me think about a few business issues that all small business owners need to think about:

1. Location matters. At Flagstaff Mountain, there was someone at the base of the mountain selling cowbells for $5.00. My husband realized he had to have one. Even though my son got one for free in Aspen (thank you State Farm guy!), my husband decided that it was important for him to have one on Flagstaff and this was his opportunity. The people were making a killing because they knew that location mattered and those eager to join the festivities up the hill would pay the price they were asking.

2. Opportunities abound. I was shocked that at Denver City Park, no one was offering food or drinks for sale. If I had been a street vendor (even one of the guys with the cart that sells ice cream), I would have been there in a heart beat. The temperatures reached over 90 degrees and there was no one selling food (at least in the area we were in). There was a missed opportunity for someone that wanted to make a lot of money. I would have bought ice cream for both me and my son! (And maybe my husband, but he did get a cowbell the day before so maybe not.)

3. Taking time off can be good. Anyone that knows me, knows that I work a lot. Whether it is teaching seminars, meeting with clients, or writing that last minute contract (or blog post), I am typically doing something work related. This is the first time in a long time that I have taken off multiple days in one week (and okay, I’ll admit I scheduled a few things and did work the first part of the week). Every business owner needs to take a few days here and there to recharge. Whether you recharge by watching bicycling races, ballets, or gardening, you need to have some time to not think about work. Yes, you can cheat a little bit. However, as a business owner you will work more hours than you ever imagined – make sure that you work to live and not live to work all the time!

Next time, I’ll write about something a little more legal. But for now, this post is the last of the vacation of your small business lawyer! If you need legal help, please call or email me, your small business lawyer, at 720-258-6647 or elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Happy New Year Video

Happy New Year from the Law Office of E.C. Lewis P.C..  Welcome to our first video post!  We hope you enjoy it!  If there are topics you would like to see addressed in the future, please make sure to leave a comment.  As always, if you need specific help, please feel free to call me, your Denver business attorney, at 720-258-6647.