You and your business partner or partners have a clear and common vision of how to run your business, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. As a team, you’ve worked together each and every day to share the daily demands and shape the success of your business. That said, have you thought about what would become of the business and all your hard work if you or one of your partners became ill, was injured, or died?
A business doesn’t have to become disabled or die just because one of the owners retires, dies, or becomes too sick or disabled to work. Whether the transition of business management or ownership needs to take place after death or during life, it can be orderly accomplished through appropriate business succession planning.
A buy-sell agreement is a tool commonly used in business succession planning. This planning feature, when correctly funded and designed, can orderly establish the value at which the business will be taken over and who will be doing the taking over. The owner can have a peace of mind from knowing that the business has a predetermined basis for which it can be sold in a ready market, thereby giving the owner a source of funds when they need it, such as when they are ready to retire. If the owner was to die prior to the above predetermined basis occurring, then the buy-sell can be used to meet the survivor’s needs or pay hefty estate taxes.
Although there are several ways that a buy-sell agreement can be established, an entity purchase agreement and cross purchase are the two most often used:
Due to favorable tax results, this is a highly used approach by many small businesses. It’s generally used by businesses that only have a small number of owners. The cross purchase is typically funded with a life and/or disability insurance policy that each of the owners must maintain on their co-owners. The death benefits from the life insurance policy aren’t subject to taxation since the owners, not the business, actually own the individual life insurance policies. Each of the business owners are legally obligated to purchase the ownership interest of the other co-owner(s) upon death.
The deceased owner’s estate sells the owner’s interest to the surviving owners in exchange for the proceeds from the life insurance policy. The surviving owners will get a step-up in the business’s tax basis. Alternatively, the insurance cash value can also be used if one of the co-owners was to need to fund a buyout during their lifetime. One point to remember regarding a cross purchase is that administration is smoothest when there are only a limited number of owners and will become increasingly difficult to administer as the number of owners increase.
Entity Purchase Agreement
This type of buy-sell agreement works somewhat like the cross purchase, but it’s the business, not the owners, that will maintain an insurance policy on each owner and agree to purchase any deceased owner’s interest in the business. As such, the taxation is different.
The death benefits under both an entity purchase and cross purchase agreement, whether being paid to the business or an individual, are exempt from federal income taxation. However, unlike with the cross purchase, there are certain situations that a C corporation can be subject to the corporate alternative minimum tax under an entity purchase. There’s also not a step-up in basis under the entity purchase plan.
Hopefully this brief overview of the entity purchase and cross purchase types of buy-sell agreements has spurred you to think about how vitally important business succession planning is to your business. Of course, this short article couldn’t possibly cover all the factors to consider when developing a business succession plan. As you begin the preparations for you business succession plan with your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent, they should be able to answer any additional questions or concerns you might have.
The craftsman’s motto, “measure twice, cut once” is a sort of microcosm of everything you need to know in order to bring projects in on time and under budget. Cutting corners, taking shortcuts, neglecting necessary expenses, that might help you save time and money in the short run, but best case scenario, it’s going to wind up costing you more in labor and budget to redo it later on. Worst case scenario, you build a faulty home that collapses in the first year, if it manages to pass inspection in the first place, and then nobody ever hires you again.
The first thing to go when people take shortcuts tends to be safety. A rush job makes for an unsafe work environment, and results in an unsafe living environment. No matter how much time and money you save on the job, it’s no good if you wind up paying it back in legal fees and time spent in the court room.
So how do you save time and money without taking dangerous shortcuts?
Be Pragmatic When Buying Tools And Materials
Simply put: there’s not much that a $200 hammer can do that a $10 hammer cannot. Don’t cut costs on quality, but shop around, and don’t overspend on fancy tools and materials that you don’t need.
Overestimate All Costs
If you promise your client that you’ll have the addition done in a week, and then a nasty thunderstorm hits on day seven, you’re going to wind up trying to finish up the roof in the middle of a heavy downpour. Promise a two week turnaround on the same project, and the client will be delighted to see the project finished six days early. Don’t make “best case scenario” promises. As they say, plan for the worst, hope for the best.
Pay A Little More For Experience When You Need To
A $12-a-hour lackey might be able to install a kitchen sink if you give him the whole weekend to do it. A $30-an-hour professional plumber might be able to get the same sink installed in an afternoon. Saving money often means spending a little more now so you can spend considerably less in the long run.
Don’t Over-commit Yourself
You’re going to burn through a lot of gas and a lot of daylight if you’re running three jobs at a time and driving all over town to get to them. If client #2 can’t wait a few days for you to finish up a job for client #1, they’re probably a pain in the neck to do business with anyways.
It all comes down to common sense, really: Pace yourself, set realistic goals, spend wisely, and always put safety first.
Property owners have a unique opportunity to efficiently rent out their entire home, a spare bedroom or other accommodation through the online service known as Airbnb. For travellers, Airbnb is convenient, web-based platform that provides affordable and flexible alternatives to hotels. For property owners, the tool easily connects various rental units with prospective occupants and makes collecting payments simple and secure.
Despite it’s convenience and the potential for profit, Airbnb is not without its risks for those who decide to list. Before renting out your home or spare room through Airbnb, keep in mind the following tips:
- Acquire the proper insurance.
Proper insurance is key to mitigating the risks associated with Airbnb. Take the time to review your renters or homeowners policy to make sure you have adequate coverage in place.
- Complete a home safety inspection.
Safety inspections can help Airbnb hosts address risks before they balloon into bigger issues. Before listing your property on Airbnb, complete a through home inspection and address all of the safety hazards you identify.
- Screen all guests.
Prior to allowing guests to stay in your home, it’s a good idea to check their background. To begin, ensure that prospective guests are verified through Airbnb. You can also review any connected social media accounts and read guest references through the site. Above all, trust your instincts.
- Set clear rules.
Through Airbnb, you can create guidelines for guests by completing the House Rules, Home Safety Card and House Manual sections of your profile. This allows you to set clear rules for guests around etiquette and safety.
- Establish occupancy limits.
Limiting the number of occupants that can use your property will help ensure that guests are comfortable and safe during their stay. Occupancy limits should take into account the size of the property and local regulations.
- Add a security deposit.
Adding a security deposit to your Airbnb listing can lessen the financial blow in the event of damaged property or another incident.
- Secure your valuables.
When you open your home to guests, there’s the potential that valuables could be damaged or stolen. To protect expensive items, consider moving them into a safety deposit box or to a secure off-site location.
- Protect sensitive information.
Your property isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when inviting guests into your home. To help prevent identity theft, make sure that guests cannot gain access to any files (physical or electronic) that contain sensitive personal information.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Safety equipment like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed around the premises to protect guests and your property. Emergency exists should be property labeled as well.
- Child-proof your premises.
It’s likely that some of your guests will have children. To protect younger guests, take the time to properly child-proof your home.
- Keep your accommodations maintained.
Good housekeeping can help guests avoid common injuries such as slips and falls. Prior to each stay, examine your home for any new housekeeping issues that must be addressed.
- Provide contact information.
Always supply your guests with information sheets that indicate local emergency numbers and the nearest hospital. Provide a clear emergency contact number for yourself, as well as back up, for easy guest reference. Also make clear how you should be contacted if the guest has questions or issues arise.
- Supply a first-aid kit.
In addition to providing emergency contact information, having a first-aid kit readily available and fully stocked at all times is important to guest safety.
- Verify compliance with regulations.
Regulations around Airbnb hosting can differ depending on your location and the type of accommodation you are renting out. Double-check that you are compliant with local and state laws before using Airbnb.
- Notify those who could be impacted by your guests.
When you host guests through Airbnb, there is the potential that neighbors or roommates could be impacted. To avoid unnecessary conflict, let your neighbors or roommates know ahead of time that guests will be using your property.
Agricultural workers are at a serious risk of injury or death when installing, climbing into, fumigating, entering, filling or emptying a silo. Because of the nature of the conditions present, workers may be exposed to hazards such as a lack of oxygen, toxic gases and grain entrapment.
To reduce worker risk of injury, properly train workers and remind them frequently of the following safety recommendations:
- Avoid entering a silo unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Complete tasks outside of the silo whenever possible.
- Have a coworker close by in case of an emergency.
- Never smoke or cause sparks near a silo, especially if the air humidity is low.
- Wear respiratory protection when appropriate.
- Stand at a safe distance when filling or emptying a silo.
- Use an approved fall restraint system and harness when climbing a silo.
- Ventilate a fumigating silo before entering.
- Conduct regular safety inspections of silos.
For more farm and ranch safety tips, contact Scurich Insurance today.
As technology becomes increasingly important for successful business operations, the value of a strong cyber liability insurance policy continues to grow. The continued rise in the amount of information stored and transferred electronically has resulted in a remarkable increase in the potential exposures facing businesses.
In an age where a stolen laptop or data breach can instantly compromise the personal data of thousands of customers, protecting your business from cyber liability is just as important as some of the more traditional exposures businesses account for in their commercial general liability policies.
Claims Scenario: Outsourcing Gone Wrong
The company: A national construction company that outsources some of its cyber security protections
The challenge: A construction firm partnered with a third-party cloud service provider in order to store customer information. While this service helped the company save on server costs, the third-party firm suffered a data breach.
As a result, the construction firm had to notify 10,000 of its customers and was forced to pay nearly $200,000 in incident investigation costs. The incident was made worse by the fact that the firm did not have a document retention procedure, which complicated the incident response process.
Cyber liability insurance in action: Following a data breach or other cyber event, the right policy can help organizations recoup a number of key costs. Specifically, cyber liability policies often cover investigation and forensics expenses—expenses that can easily bankrupt smaller firms who forgo coverage.
What’s more, when third parties are involved, managing litigation concerns can be a challenge. By using cyber liability insurance, organizations have access to legal professionals well-versed in cyber lawsuits and response.
Claims Scenario: Pardon the Interruption
The company: An online retail store that relies heavily on e-commerce
The challenge: A small-sized, online retailer partnered with a data centre to host its website and store its data. This is not uncommon, as many small businesses don’t have the IT infrastructure to host products, process payments and fulfil orders on-site.
Unfortunately, the data centre was targeted in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. As a result of this attack, the retailer’s website went down for several days. While functionality was eventually restored, business interruption costs from lost sales and website downtime was over $165,000.
Cyber liability insurance in action: DDoS attacks are one of many weapons cyber criminals use to infiltrate and disrupt businesses. These attacks can impact any organization that owns a website, regardless of where it’s hosted.
Cyber liability insurance is one of the only protections organizations have against costly DDoS attacks and similar disruptions. This is because cyber policies offer business interruption loss reimbursement. Following a disruption caused by a cyber event, policies kick in and help organizations recover from any financial losses.
Benefits of Cyber Liability Insurance
- Data breach coverage—In the event of a breach, organizations are required by law to notify affected parties. This can add to overall data breach costs, particularly as they relate to security fixes, identity theft protection for those impacted by the breach and protection from possible legal action. Cyber liability policies include coverage for these exposures, thus safeguarding your data from cyber criminals.
- Business interruption loss reimbursement—A cyber attack can lead to an IT failure that disrupts business operations, costing your organization both time and money. Cyber liability policies may cover your loss of income during these interruptions. What’s more, increased costs to your business operations in the aftermath of a cyber attack may also be covered.
- Cyber extortion defence—Ransomware and similar malicious software are designed to steal and withhold key data from organizations until a steep fee is paid. As these types of attacks increase in frequency and severity, it’s critical that organizations seek cyber liability insurance, which can help recoup losses related to cyber extortion.
- Legal support—In the wake of a cyber incident, businesses often seek legal assistance. This assistance can be costly. Cyber liability insurance can help businesses afford proper legal work following a cyber attack.
When cyber attacks like data breaches and hacks occur, they can result in devastating damage. Businesses have to deal with business disruptions, lost revenue and litigation. It is important to remember that no organization is immune to the impact of cyber crime. As a result, cyber liability insurance has become an essential component to any risk management program.
Cyber exposures aren’t going away and, in fact, continue to escalate. Businesses need to be prepared in the event that a cyber attack strikes. To learn more about cyber liability insurance, contact Scurich Insurance today.
On Dec. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, after it passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
This tax reform bill makes significant changes to the federal tax code. The bill does not impact the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax provisions. However, it does reduce the ACA’s individual shared responsibility (or individual mandate) penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019.
As a result, beginning in 2019, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage.
?The ACA’s individual mandate penalty no longer applies, beginning in 2019. However, individuals will still need to certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018.
In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019).
The Individual Mandate
The ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect in 2014, requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. The mandate is enforced each year on individual federal tax returns. Starting in 2015, individuals filing a tax return for the previous tax year indicate, by checking a box on their returns, which members of their family (including themselves) had health insurance coverage for the year (or qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate). Based on this information, the IRS then assesses a penalty for each nonexempt family member without coverage.
Effect of the Tax Reform Bill
The tax reform bill reduces the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning with the 2019 tax year. This effectively eliminates the individual mandate penalty for the 2019 tax year and beyond. As a result, beginning with the 2019 tax year, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.
Impact on Years Prior to 2019
Although the tax reform bill eliminates the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, this repeal did not take effect until 2019. As a result, individuals were still required to comply with the mandate (or pay a penalty) for 2018. This means that individuals must still certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018. Therefore, taxpayers should indicate on their 2018 tax returns whether they (and everyone in their family):
- Had health coverage for the year;
- Qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate; or
- Will pay an individual mandate penalty.
In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year. Individuals who are liable for a penalty for failing to obtain acceptable health coverage in 2018 will be required to pay that penalty when they file their federal income taxes in 2019. As a result, some individuals may be required to pay the individual mandate penalty in early 2019, based on their noncompliance for the 2018 tax year.
Effect on Other ACA Provisions
Despite the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other ACA provisions. The tax reform bill does not impact any other ACA provisions, including the Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage, the PCORI fees and the health insurance providers fee. In addition, the employer shared responsibility (pay or play) rules and related Section 6055 and Section 6056 reporting requirements are still in place.