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Understanding the Bookkeeper and Controller Roles

October 1, 2020 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island


Here's a look at the key responsibilities of a bookkeeper and a controller — and how they work together.

Any successful business needs to have a person, or people, handling bookkeeping and controller tasks. While there is some overlap between the two roles, there are also critical differences. Let's take a closer look at these distinctions and at how the person or team taking on these roles can help you maximize profitability while minimizing risk.

Agreeing on Terms
Maybe the easiest way to grasp the difference between a bookkeeper and a controller is to think of each in a literal sense. A bookkeeper, as the title plainly states, keeps the books — i.e., records all of a company's financial transactions in a systematic way. Without a competent bookkeeper to log this data, a business owner would quickly lose track of how much money was flowing into the company and how much was flowing out. The result would be chaos.

A controller takes the process to the next level by analyzing and interpreting this data to institute financial controls (hence the name). Controllers also help the business owner implement efficiencies, develop budgets and provide insights that could lead to additional opportunities.

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Our 2020 Quiz on Business Tax Laws

February 18, 2020 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island


There have been some recent changes in the tax laws — and, yes, they're going to be on the test. The answers, and your overall grade, are at the end.

1. We'll start with an easy one. In 2019 the standard mileage rate for using your car for business purposes increased by 3.5 cents. What's the new deduction (per mile)?
  1. 58 cents
  2. 51 cents
  3. "Your mileage may vary"
  4. If it's less than a dollar, I just throw it in a jar
2. Section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code allows businesses to deduct how much of their QBI?
  1. 0%
  2. 20%
  3. 40%
  4. Like tipping, the amount is up to you
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Case Study: A Game Plan for Managing Irregular Cash Flow

July 23, 2019 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Case Study Blogs


File this under "Good Problem to Have." SASKIA, a Brooklyn jewelry startup, grew so fast that its bookkeeping demands soon exceeded the capabilities of its husband-and-wife co-founders.

Of particular concern was the company's irregular cash flow. At the start of each year, SASKIA had a lot of upfront expenditures for the materials needed to create their unique designs. The company relied on no-APR credit cards for purchases of up to $50,000, knowing the return on that investment wouldn't come until much later in the year. But in the meantime, they still had to meet their regular expenses, including payroll for eight employees. The math on how to accomplish that could get a bit fuzzy.

Into the Right Boxes
As is often the case, the first step in solving this problem was to acknowledge it. Partner/COO Scott Kerns, who had been doing the company's books, realized it was time to outsource that responsibility to a specialist. "We needed someone who could put things in the right boxes in the right way," he says, "Then we could look at all of the data together and make informed decisions based on where the money was flowing."

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Tax Test: TCJA Edition

March 28, 2019 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Business Advice


How did you do this tax season with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? The answers (and your grade) are at the end.

1. If your small business constitutes a "pass-through entity," how much of your net business income are you allowed to deduct?

  1. 0%
  2. 10%
  3. 20%
  4. I'm not sure what a "pass-through entity" is, but it sounds unpleasant

2. You spent $1.1 million in 2018 to repair your warehouse roof and buy much-needed new equipment. How much of that is deductible under Section 179?

  1. All of it
  2. $1 million
  3. $500,000
  4. Um … tell me what Section 179 is again
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Tax-Season Test: The Sequel

April 16, 2018 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island


Did you take our tax-prep quiz last year? If so, you were probably a lot better prepared for tax time this year.

We've updated our test for 2018 — take it, and see how you do. The answers (and your grade) are at the end.

1. You made a $100,000 equipment purchase in October. What's the maximum amount of that cost you could deduct this year?

  1. 0%
  2. 50%
  3. 100%
  4. A $100,000 equipment purchase? I wish.

2. Now that you've filed your employment taxes for 2017, you can safely discard your records from:

  1. 2016
  2. 2015
  3. 2014
  4. 1973
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New for 2018: Less-Charitable Laws for Charitable Giving

March 6, 2018 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Business Advice, Nonprofits


Individuals and tax preparers need to be aware of a significant impact on charitable giving that likely will result from a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

While the consequences of the law, passed in December 2017, might be unintended, they are no less real for taxpayers — especially for charities. Vikki Sprull, President and CEO of the philanthropic network Council on Foundations, projects the new law "will result in a decrease of $16–$24 billion in charitable giving every year."

Subtraction by Addition
The bad news for charities came about as a result of what was supposed to have been good news for taxpayers. Under TCJA, the standard deduction doubles to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples.

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Fall Bootcamp Series: Business Fundamentals Bootcamp

September 22, 2017 / by Erica Mitchell posted in Boston, Orlando, Southern New Hampshire, Northeast Florida, Merrimack Valley, North Shore Long Island, Bookkeeping Services, Boise Idaho, Brooklyn - Staten Island


Hosted by Supporting Strategies, the Business Fundamentals Bootcamp is designed for the CEOs and CXOs of early- and growth-stage companies. The events include speakers and panelists who lend their expertise on tactical issues and opportunities for growing businesses focused on topics in marketing, finance, law and human resources. View the full schedule online and register to join us at one of these events.

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Are You Up to Date on New York State's Tax Changes?

September 14, 2017 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Brooklyn - Staten Island, Business Advice


In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the approval of a 2018 budget that included straightforward tax cuts for the middle class along with more complex fiscal measures. Let's unpack how those changes affect accounting professionals and tax preparers.

Sweeping Personal Income Tax Cuts
The tax cuts, also called the Middle Class Recovery Act, will eventually benefit 6 million New Yorkers. The cuts apply to two income brackets: those making between $40,000 and $150,000 a year and those making between $150,000 and $300,000 a year.

The lower bracket will see a reduction of 0.12% a year, reducing the rate from 6.45% to 5.5% by 2025. Those in the higher bracket will be see a reduction of 0.08% over the same time period, decreasing their rate from 6.65% to 6%.

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Do You Need Key-Person Insurance for Your Small Business?

August 24, 2017 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Brooklyn - Staten Island, Business Advice


Just as life insurance can protect a family from financial distress if the head of a household dies unexpectedly, key-person insurance can help a small business survive the untimely death of its owner or a crucial employee.

In fact, key-person insurance is life insurance. The only difference is that instead of providing benefits to the deceased's family, the policy provides money to the deceased's place of business. What the business does with those death benefits depends on the circumstances.

Can Your Business Live Without You?
If you work strictly for yourself, the question of key-person insurance is moot. When you die, so does your business. (You should have a conventional life insurance policy to protect your family, however.) But if you have one or more employees, you ought to consider how your sudden death would impact them.

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Cash or Accrual Accounting: Which Is Best for Your Business?

June 1, 2017 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in South Carolina, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Bookkeeping 101


Before you can answer the question posed above, you need to understand the difference between the two types of accounting.

Essentially, cash accounting is just what it sounds like — a pay-as-you-go approach that documents your payables and receivables in real time, more or less. With accrual accounting, there's a lag between the time you receive your "accounts payable" goods or services and the time you actually pay for them; the same is true on the "accounts receivable" side of the ledger.

As long as it all comes out in the wash, does it matter which one you use? The answer often comes down to timing — and to IRS regulations.

Opt for Cash Accounting
Let's say you have a modest nail salon and follow the standard calendar tax year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) for your financial reporting. Most of your work consists of manicures or pedicures that cost relatively little, and your customers pay in full each time. You reorder supplies and replace equipment on a regular basis.

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