Business Tax Planning and Important 2017 Due Dates

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

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

Colorado Employment Law and Non-compliant Employees

Colorado Employment Law and Non-compliant Employees

Perhaps the only thing we dread more than being fired is having to fire someone. When we are dealing with a non-compliant employee, it is understandable that we would want to get to the bottom of the issue rather than jump directly to firing. This post will offer recommendations for getting to the bottom of what’s going on with a non-compliant employee, as well as some advice if a demand for compliance or termination is in order.

Non-compliant Employees Have Issues

I’m not just being tongue in cheek here – you may or may not agree with the issues that are causing an employee to be non-compliant, but you do need to know what the issues are and you need to hear it directly from the employee. It may feel like you can avoid conflict by asking the employee’s supervisor or peers what the problem is, but this will work against you in two ways. First, there is a good chance you will not get the story straight, and second, the employee may feel he or she has still not had an opportunity to express important concerns to someone who may have the will and ability to resolve them. You can assume that non-compliant employees have issues by their behavior – but don’t assume to understand what the issues are until you’ve listened carefully to the employee.

Positive and Negative Motivators

If you disagree with the employee’s reasons for refusing to comply, and you value the contributions the employee is making in other areas, consider applying a little motivation. Your approach will work best if you know how the employee thinks; some folks don’t respond to positive motivation at all, and others crumble at anything that can be interpreted as a threat. Once you decide what type of motivation you want to put in play, there are dozens of ways to do so.

Demanding Employee Compliance

Once you feel you have listened well and the employee acknowledges he or she has been heard and understood, you may wish to skip attempts to motivate the desired behavior and simply demand compliance. If so, consider the advice of Alison Green, who addresses workplace and management issues for readers of the Denver Business Journal. Green advises you set an expectation and explain that non-compliance “will jeopardize [the employees] job.” This should bring clarity to the request. Is it legal to fire an employee for non-compliance on any issue in Colorado? Colorado is an employment-at-will State :

Colorado follows the legal doctrine of “employment-at-will” which provides that in the absence of a contract to the contrary, neither an employer nor an employee is required to give notice or advance notice of termination or resignation.

As long as your reason for firing is not illegal (ex: sexual orientation, gender bias, etc.), you are permitted to fire as you see fit. Even if you are firing an employee for sound reasons, it is a good idea to document the problems leading up to the firing, just in case the employee sees it differently and decides to bring a wrongful termination suit against you. Ask your Colorado business attorney for advice about documenting employment performance issues, just to make sure you have covered your bases. Also, if this is your first time firing an employee, you may want to conduct a quick legal review of the process with your attorney.

If you have questions about Colorado employment law and dealing with non-compliant employees, , 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

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

Small Business Fraud in Colorado

Small Business Fraud in Colorado

We hear stories and hope it never happens to us, but when we step back a moment and think about how often small business fraud occurs in Colorado, we quickly realize that we need to be vigilant. As a small business owner, there are a couple of types of fraud you are particularly vulnerable to. I will address a three common types of fraud here, all of which have happened recently in Colorado. I invite you to ask questions about any additional types you’d like me to comment on:

Employee Theft

This is perhaps the most difficult to experience, especially if the employee is a friend, or someone you’ve come to regard as family (or, in the most unfortunate cases, the employee is family). Unfortunately, being regarded as family is a designation deceivers work hard to achieve because of the access it affords them. Staying later, taking on extra duties, and helping out without asking for additional compensation may all be indicators of a bad apple, according to Entrepreneur. It might also just mean you have an employee who is trying to make a good impression, but it is important that you put checks and balances in place in case there is more going on. You can have the employee share responsibilities with someone else – it’s harder to hide deception when there are two people sharing a task. You can also insert an accounting procedure or accountability audit that can be verified by some other means than the employee’s word, for example. Think about how a bank or retailer counts out a cash drawer – there are always two people present and both must sign off on the amount. Come up with a similar means of vetting the work or tasks your most trusted, hardest working employee is engaged in, especially if you are relying exclusively on his or her word to confirm numbers or data being provided to you.

Trusted Advisor Theft

Many of our business advisors have certifications, credentials, and excellent references but those credentials don’t guarantee we will never experience trusted advisor theft. Case in point; a Colorado attorney was recently sentenced to six years in prison for for bilking the company he worked for out of nearly 5 million dollars. A Colorado finance firm owner pocketed fees that were paid to help source loans for his clients. He has been sentenced to prison as well. The prison sentences are reassuring, and hopefully act as a deterrent to would-be thieves, but they don’t erase the stress and financial turmoil these types of thefts cause a business owner. In the instances of employee theft and trusted advisor theft, trust is the door the thief enters through. Jonathan Marks, a partner at Crowe Horwath LLP, provides excellent guidance on observing tell-tale behavior, and reminds us that trust is one side of the coin when deception is the other.

“Fraud is not about obstruction. It is about deception,” Marks said. “In other words, trust is a professional hazard. If you trust someone, you’re at risk of being deceived, so you must verify, verify, verify.”

If your employee or trusted advisor has demonstrated a willingness to deceive, even if it appears the other guy “deserved” it, or if he or she is remarkably arrogant or braggadocios, you may need to do some digging to determine if these behaviors extend to a belief that he or she is “above” the law.

Small Business Credential Theft

By credential theft, I am talking about the credentials you use to access your business banking accounts or business funds, as well as data that could be useful to a thief attempting to pose as you. First and foremost, don’t engage or allow any employee to engage in the Employee Password Worst Practices as outlined in the 2015 Password Workplace Report. The report is worth a read and offers good tips such as requiring complex passwords, and requiring passwords to be changed often. And absolutely make sure that anyone making multiple attempts to access information with the incorrect password is locked out.

If you don’t currently route your company network through a secure collocation data center (or don’t even know what that is) or aren’t sure just what sort of shared access employees have to your computer network (meaning can employee A access the computer of employee B via your network?) you should consider hiring an expert to evaluate your situation. If you don’t know one, I can refer you. If you think you are doing alright with regard to network security, take a moment to read this article with tips on boosting your workplaces network security, just to be certain.

If you need legal help or want to talk over ways of securing your interests against small business fraud, feel free to contact me 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

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

Small Business Work-Life Balance

Small Business Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is one of those issues we often hear about when it comes to employees, but what about small business owners and entrepreneurs?

Being a small business owner is challenging. It takes a lot of time and energy in order to keep the business going and growing. This can often lead to the assumption that the more time you put into something, namely, your business, then the more you will get out of it. Right? Maybe, maybe not, but you should try and be smart about it.

Consider this, studies show that the belief that multitasking is a powerful productivity tool is a myth. If you are in the middle of a personal, non-business task at home for example, then it might be a good idea to finish that up and then take care of that business matter later. Of course there are always exceptions, emergencies do happen, but do not automatically assume that making your business your number one priority will always lead you to better business results. If you come back to that business task with your full attention, you will likely complete it better and in less time.

Another way to help you obtain a better work-life balance would be to set aside one day out of the week (or maybe even the whole weekend if possible) to not do anything business-related. Think carefully about what day you choose, and make sure it is one that can work for you. For example, if your business gets an important delivery on Saturdays where there are commonly questions or problems with it, then that might not be a good day to choose. This can allow you to decompress, get some greater perspective, and then be ready to jump back into work more inspired and reinvigorated. Burnout is real, and taking steps to overcome it or prevent it now will reward you and your business over the long-term.

A common problem with work-life balance for small business owners is when you operate a home-based business. When you are in this situation, it can be hard to ever feel like you are off-the-clock and actually able to relax in your own home. If you are in this situation, consider limiting all of your business operations, equipment, inventory, et cetera, to one or two rooms in your home. If you have business items strewn across the house, you will likely find yourself thinking about work everywhere you go at home. Additionally, if you do all of your work at home, then it might be a good idea to keep a strict schedule for yourself of working hours. Get in a routine. Together, these tactics should train your brain to focus better on your business by concentrating both when and where you work in a common and predictable way for yourself.

Whatever your small business’ circumstances, it is crucial that you give it 100%, but you cannot do that if you are trying to work 100% of the time. We are all human after all, and we need to eat, sleep, get some rest, and spend some time with our families in order to be at our best on the job. So try and strive for a reasonable work-life balance for yourself, and you will likely be a better person and business owner for it. Lastly, remember not to feel guilty for taking some time out or else you likely will not experience the benefits of rest and balancing your work and the rest of your life. Just give it a try and see if it works for you.

If you need legal advice for your business, or are ready to start a new business of your own, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

Craft Beer is a Billion-Dollar Economic Driver in CO

Craft Beer is a Billion-Dollar Economic Driver in CO

As today is National Beer Day, what better way to celebrate than talking about beer! According to a study released by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business in association with the Colorado Brewers Guild, small, locally-owned breweries had an overall economic impact of 1.15 billion dollars on the Colorado Economy for the year of 2014, and it employs over 6,000 workers in Colorado.

This is good news for Colorado as one of the top craft beer brewing states in the country. At the end of last year’s count, there were 261 craft breweries in Colorado, with more and more popping up all the time. The latest figures now have the count at over 300! Altogether, this means that you likely don’t have to go very far to find excellent beer in or near your neighborhood. These Colorado craft beer brewers are made up of small businesses that simply love great beer and Colorado. They just want to share their passion with others, and consumers have been buying.

Overall, the craft beer takeover is not showing any signs of slowing down yet, but how long can it continue to grow at these rates? This is growing concern. How much is too much craft beer in one area? As far as the national numbers go, craft beer is still only sitting at just over 12% of the beer market share, but more locally, the market may be experiencing a lot more crowding. The growth and interest in craft beer is likely making the bigger, national brewers nervous too, who may be looking to buy some of the smaller brewers or get more creative with their own beer offerings to try to compete.

Another ongoing concern for craft brewers is a potential ballot initiative that would allow for grocery stores and other big retailers to be able to start selling full-strength beer inside, an issue we discussed previously here. They fear this could lead to more consumers opting for buying some of the more national brand offerings at these larger stores rather than going to their local liquor stores who tend to have large selections of local, craft beer offerings. Then there is also the impact on local small business liquor store owners being affected by the change as well. Craft beer is certainly an industry worth watching here in Colorado, whether you work in small or big business.

If you need legal help for your craft brewery, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at: