Entertainment Write-Off Going Away? 4 Ways to Show Your Customers Some Love

The days of taking customers to a sporting event or concert, and enjoying the tax benefits of keeping employees on premises for meals, took a turn with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Keep in mind these changes do not affect tax filings for 2017; they begin with tax year 2018 – next year’s taxes.

There will be no deduction for entertainment expenses compared to 50 percent for tickets and 100 percent for qualified charitable events in the past (office holiday parties remain unaffected – still 100 percent deductible). On top of that, while employee travel meals remain 50 percent deductible, providing employees meals on premises went from 100 percent deductible and tax-free for employees, to 50 percent deductible, and are scheduled to completely go away after 2025.

This will leave businesses with some big budgeting decisions for 2018. But, before we get into that, let’s explore four ways to show your customers some love, even if you can’t enjoy the same tax benefits from buying them a hot dog at a Braves game or treating them to an evening with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

#1: Gift Giving

Sending customers a gift is always a thoughtful thing to do, but it’s also deductible – to a certain point. You can deduct $25 off business gifts you give each person, and for gifts where your business name is permanently engraved on the item, there is no deductible limit as long as you spend $4 or less per gift and it’s distributed on a regular basis.

If you want to go the extra mile and demonstrate how much you truly value your customers, then it might be a good idea to go beyond the $25 limit – perhaps a $50 or $100 gift card – and eat the difference. This kind gesture may lead to a big reward.

#2: Make a Donation

Some people prefer tangible gifts and others donations. I am in favor of both, but especially love the latter. Making a donation to a charitable organization or nonprofit in someone’s name can impact a larger group of people who are in greater need, as well as establish good faith for your customer in the community. It also comes with deductions; for more information, click here.

#3: Treat Your Employees 

As small business owners, we both know that we can’t do it all alone. We must have a great staff that is willing to carry out our message and work hard to meet all our goals and expectations.

In turn, we must show appreciation and gratitude, and ultimately keep them happy working for us. So, treating them to meals now and then should be welcomed!

Even though providing employee meals on-premises went from 100 to 50 percent, that shouldn’t necessarily change things. And, employee travel meals are still 50 percent deductible. So, show them some love and continue to treat them to meals and encourage them to enjoy themselves while they’re around you and at work. A little goes a long way!

#4: Bite the Bullet and Entertain Them 

Just because entertainment is no longer deductible doesn’t mean you should stop cold turkey. Going to a ball game or a concert is fun, and also a way to get to know your customers better and build a stronger relationship.

Getting out of that office environment can be a nice change, and being entertained in the process never hurts. So, if it makes sense and might lead to more business, bite the bullet and provide some entertainment on your dime. You may just reap the reward!

Let us Know if we can Help!

You may be thinking how all this will impact you financially. There will be a lot of monetary decisions and strategies to consider with all these tax reform changes. But, don’t worry because Sound Business Services is here to help you every step of the way.

Of course, it’s important to always communicate to us the reason for each expense so that we can assign them properly come tax time. But, there is so much more to discuss. Contact us today to see what you can do for your customers this year, and you’ll be on your way to growing your business and pleasing your customers.

Our 5 Favorite Apps for Tax Season

As tax season kicks into full gear, our time – and running our businesses – becomes that much more important. But, don’t worry because Sound Business Services (SBS) is here to help you with both!

With the power of QuickBooks Online (QBO), the flexibility of the cloud and those game-changing apps, you will be on your way to working smarter, more efficiently and at a higher level in less time.

In fact, the average small business owner uses 18 apps to run his or her business every day, according to Intuit. And, with more than 500 apps that integrate with QBO, it can be very overwhelming deciding which ones to choose. So, I will give you my 5 favorite apps (and a bonus app!) to help navigate tax season and take your business to the next level; of course, we will work with you to make sure you get the apps that work best for your business.

  1. Bill.com As a bookkeeper, I can truly say that Bill.com is a blessing. Through Bill.com, we are able to bring you a consistent billing strategy, as well as automate your accounts payables and receivables.
  2. Receipt BankAbsolutely one of our favorite apps, Receipt Bank stores all of your important bills and receipts in one place, accessible any time, anywhere. You simply snap a photo of a bill or forward a receipt by email and Receipt Bank does the rest. That means no more lost or accidentally shredded bills! This brings you real-time information at your fingertips, saving you lots of time and disaster. But, what we do goes way behind what the app does, including ensuring your receipts are coded to the correct accounts and then matching them with your bank transactions in QBO.
  3. GustoWhen it comes to paying staff and contractors, Gusto is super easy and super efficient. In fact, Gusto’s found that 72 percent of their customers spend five minutes or less running payroll. We can help you get set up, and of course, handle all your payroll needs.
  4. ExpensifyWhat if all of your receipts, mileage, company card transactions and other expenses could be captured and automated in a snap? It literally can with Expensify. Through their patented SmartScan technology, you easily snap a photo and the app does the rest. Then, we take over to not only make sure everything is running smoothly, but also bring you meaning behind your numbers to take your business to the next level.
  5. TSheets By QuickBooksFor time tracking, TSheets is our go-to app. The days of punching the clock are mostly a distant memory, with many businesses requiring employees to constantly be on the go, working from anywhere, any time. This is where TSheets comes in handy. You can now track everywhere your employees ago from any device, through the app. It makes payroll, invoicing and job costing much simpler and more efficient.

Bonus app: MileIQMileIQ allows you to track your mileage in real time by simply setting up the app. So, whenever you’re on the go – perhaps to your next business meeting or delivering something to a customer – your miles are tracked, making our job and your reporting so much easier. Features include automatic tracking, reporting at your fingertips, and the ability to give your route a specific name to clarify if it’s for business or personal.

We are Here to Help

Of course, this list represents our favorite apps that may work for you, and SBS will help evaluate which apps are the best fit for your particular business. And, with Intuit always looking to improve and add more apps, that brings endless possibilities and our list is constantly changing.

So, contact us today to see which apps work best for you, or to go over any questions you may have, and you will be on your way to realizing untapped potential and taking your business to the next level.

SBS Client Profile: Tal Baum of Bellina Alimentari

Welcome to another Sound Business Services’ (SBS) client profile. We recently interviewed Tal Baum, owner of Bellina Alimentari in Atlanta, Ga. Here is what she had to say about the driving force behind the company, what sets it apart and what she gets out of the SBS relationship.

Jonathan Bill: Tell our readers what Bellina Alimentari is all about.

Tal Baum: Bellina is a very unique concept. It’s not just a restaurant. We are hosting four different elements under one roof: an Italian market importing product exclusively from Italy, a kitchen that serves central Italian-inspired dishes, a beautiful wine bar that specializes in Italian wine and a cooking school. The concept was born form the belief that Italian cooking is not only about consuming good food, but also about sharing those experiences with others and expanding our culture beyond the restaurant itself. The four different elements tie it all together under one big umbrella that we call Bellina.

JB: Tell us about the driving force behind why you started the company.

TB: The driving force was to bring something different to Atlanta, not just serving Italian food but also combining all elements under one roof. I personally lived in Italy for seven years and fell in love with the culture, the food and everything in between. When I moved to Atlanta, I felt I left a piece of my soul back in Europe.

JB: What sets you apart from the competition?

TB: Attention to detail and quality of ingredients. We never compromise on quality of prime ingredients, which I feel is the foundation of good Italian cooking. That means using what’s seasonal and fresh, and we’ve been able to achieve this by developing relationships with people around town to bring life to our business. We have so much to offer with the four different elements, which makes it a challenging company to run.

JB: When did you first engage SBS? Why did you reach out to us?

TB: January 2017, after being open for almost a year. I felt I needed some support when it came to back office accounting and making sure my books were in line. I really felt I needed a professional team behind me to support the lack of systems and knowledge I had on that aspect. They stepped right in and have helped me straighten up, and I’ve been pleased ever since.

JB: What services does SBS currently provide to your company?

TB: SBS does my 1099s, provides me a better understanding of the books, categorizes things, and makes sure everything is accurate and under control.

JB: Please explain the difference that SBS has made in your company.

TB: They liberate my time. I used to dedicate four to five hours a week for accounting. Now, I know that this is being done in a much better way, and I can dedicate myself to growing the business and developing areas for expansion. And, I have a better understanding of business financials and a more accurate plan thanks to their precise work.

JB: Thanks Tal!