Whether it’s helping a second-generation business, a real estate investor, a specialized manufacturer, a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-owned parent, or a small equipment seller, we understand the needs of businesses. The following are some stories of how we have helped our clients. All of these examples are based on actual situations, with client names omitted.
Second Generation Family-owned Business – A second generation family-owned business located in Chicago turned to us for their accounting and tax needs, as well as the occasional consulting engagement. This client employs bookkeepers, as well as some family members, to handle the internal accounts payable and accounts receivable. As is the case with most small businesses, it is not financially feasible to employ someone with true controller or CFO skills. That’s where we come in – to supplement the client’s internal capabilities with our skills, seamlessly integrating the internal and external capabilities to give the business owner the level of support that is needed.
We gather the underlying accounting records and documents each month and update the general ledger for all of the detailed transactions, reconcile various general ledger accounts to the underlying documents (such as bank statements, loan statements, and payroll tax records), interact with the client, and prepare compiled financial statements. The financial statements are periodically shared with the bank. Near the end of the year, we project the net income for the year and the income taxes for the business and the individual, and recommend tax strategies and changes to the estimated tax payments or tax withholdings. After the end of the year, we finalize the S corporation income tax returns and prepare the income tax returns for the individual business owner.
But those are just the “routine” services. We have also helped to analyze the feasibility of consolidating business locations, provided analyses of relocating the business, including taking into account State tax incentives, we have assisted with cost accounting studies, we have analyzed potential acquisition targets, and we have planned and assisted in the consolidation of business entities.
Real Estate Investor –One of our clients is a group of investors, who have purchased a high-rise in Chicago. Ownership in the group involves several unrelated individuals, collective investors, and operating entities. Ownership is also diverse geographically. Space in the building is primarily rented as office space for businesses. A management company is part of the ownership group and is responsible for leasing space, maintaining tenants, and initiating the re-development of the building. The accounting records of the entity are in the control of the management company. Our engagement involves providing quarterly oversight of the accounting process and the accounting personnel and then reporting the results of the oversight to the investor group. We also provide tax planning and tax preparation services.
Additional services have included analyzing potential sales and purchases of additional buildings, including tax effects and possible like-kind exchanges, assisting with cost segregation studies, and analyzing various buy-out proposals.
Specialized Manufacturing – Our client has a controller in place, who handles the day-to-day and month-to-month accounting needs of the business. The business has been in existence for over 40 years; the founder-entrepreneur remains heavily involved in the operations of the business.
Our engagement is to provide a certified audit of the financial statements, and then to prepare the necessary Federal and State corporate income tax returns. During the course of each year, we interact with the owner and the controller to discuss business performance and operations, and to determine if any significant changes have occurred with the client’s operations, accounting, or financing. Near the end of the year, we discuss performance with the client and consider the impact on the business’ and individual owner’s income taxes. When the controller finishes the year-end updating of the accounting records and the reconciliations are complete, we step in to begin the process of auditing the business’ books and records and preparing audited financial statements. When the audit is complete, we communicate proposed changes to the accounting records to the controller and to the owner, and we discuss any specific concerns that might have arisen during the course of conducting the audit. Finally, we prepare the necessary Federal and State S corporation income tax returns for the business, and then begin the process of preparing the owner’s individual income tax returns.
Foreign Subsidiary in the United States – Your business has found a great opportunity and has committed significant financial resources into a joint venture project. The problem is that your business is in Italy (or any foreign country, for that matter) and the joint venture operations are in Indiana, or Florida, or Michigan, or Connecticut. How do you monitor your joint venture interest from 4,500 miles away? You can turn to us to be your “eyes and ears” of the company’s accounting and finances.
We have come up with creative ways to help our foreign clients in cases just like this. One of our foreign clients has a subsidiary that is located in Florida. The foreign entity manufactures most of the components that go into the finished product that is made in the U.S. Those components are shipped to the U.S. subsidiary, which then adds a few more supplies to the assembly process and ultimately distributes the finished product to clients in the U.S., South America, and Canada. Due to the geographical distance, the client looks to us to perform services that ultimately give the client additional comfort that the accounting records and controls of the U.S. subsidiary are reliable. On a bi-monthly basis, we perform certain analyses and reconciliations from our Illinois offices by using remote access connections to the subsidiary’s server. Twice each year we physically visit the client site and perform additional in-depth analysis of the subsidiary. We provide a report to the foreign client at the conclusion of each remote bi-monthly engagement and after our bi-annual on-site visits. Shortly after the end of the year, we prepare the necessary Federal and State corporate income tax returns.
A few other services are provided to this client as well:
- Leading up to those tax returns, of course, is some sophisticated tax planning to make sure that the income tax burden is minimized.
- Transfer pricing studies have been prepared and are updated periodically.
- As states become hungry for more revenue, it is important to analyze the company’s exposure to state income taxes (as well as sales and payroll taxes).
- Key employees and members of management have been re-located to the U.S. to work in the subsidiary; those individuals have exposure to U.S. and State income taxes.
We tailor the work for our foreign-owned businesses to meet their specific needs. The services we provide can range from outsourcing the entire accounting and bookkeeping function to sophisticated tax planning.
Small Equipment Seller – One of our clients was initially an employee for a leasing company located in Michigan. In order to gain more control over his life and take a step back from the corporate world, our client terminated his employment with the leasing company. However, he had developed strong ties with the underlying equipment manufacturer and he was not bound by any non-compete agreements with his prior employer.
Using our advice, our client formed a corporation and entered into a contract with the manufacturer. He received a territory of several states in the Midwest and has spent the last 20 years selling equipment. Our client has no debt and has no employees. As a “one-man show” with a handful of sales transactions each month and a short list of routine expenses, he has no need of spending time capturing his accounting activity in a formal manner. Near the end of each year, we have the client send us an estimate of income and expenses so that we can do some quick tax planning for the corporation and for him individually. After the end of each year, our client provides us with the checking account and credit card activity for his corporation, and we update the formal accounting records of his business and perform reconciliations of some of the underlying accounts. When the accounting records have been updated, we prepare the Federal and State corporate income tax returns, as well as the tax returns for the individual owner.