Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis CPA firms’

Become an Activist for your Company in 2012!

Part of our Personal Leadership Series

By Thomas J. Sponsel, Managing Partner

As January comes and goes, so do New Year’s Resolutions. Such resolutions are often made to be broken, if procrastination hasn’t already postponed making a commitment. A 2007 study by the University of Bristol found that 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure.

Most of us do not achieve what we desire for the following reasons:

  • Lack of a Commitment to a Plan of ACTION
  • Lack of Support in collaborating with others
  • Poor Execution
  • Poor Attitude
  • Lack of Willingness to make short-term sacrifice for Long Term Benefit

Resolve to make 2012 the year you become an activist for your company. This includes making your personal role in the company more fulfilling, making your company better with suggestions for improvement in both planning and execution, and finding a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in your personal life.

This may sound like a utopia, but most of us become frustrated because we do not commit to an active role in making all this happen.

You can enhance your value to your company and improve job satisfaction through the following steps:

  1. Together with your supervisor, identify three to five areas you should improve on in 2012.
  2. Seek your supervisor’s support in helping you achieve your goals; solicit feedback and request any necessary resources.
  3. Clearly understand how your role interrelates with other team members in delivering products and services.
  4. Understand your company’s corporate goals for 2012 and the action steps management has laid out to achieve them.
  5. Offer suggestions for making your company better.
  6. Be committed to life-long learning and continuous improvement.
  7. Celebrate your successes and evaluate your failures; use both to establish your next challenges.
  8. Execute your assigned role, and hold others accountable to their roles.
  9. Read voraciously on a variety of topics to expand your knowledge and challenge the status quo.

Many of us get dragged down because we approach our responsibilities as if we were bystanders in our own lives – our jobs, our families and personal relationships. There will be many challenges in life, and how we react to those adverse experiences will determine what we are able to accomplish and how other people regard us.

Take English poet William Ernest Henley. After progressive tuberculosis of the bone claimed one of his legs, and threatened to take the other, he wrote “Invictus,” which ends with these immortal words:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Even if you are usually a follower or a doer rather than a leader, you must become a leader in your own realm – because no one else is going to do it for you!

Within each of our companies, we are part of a team of individuals with a diverse array of talents. When combined together correctly, the whole is much more effective than the sum of its parts.

The stronger we become individually, and the better we interact with co-workers, the stronger we make the company. A stronger company will deliver better customer service and higher quality products, have a satisfied workforce and become more successful. And we all want to be a part of success!

The key to this success starts with that person you see in the mirror every morning. If you commit to becoming an activist and not a bystander, you will be much happier – and your co-workers, spouse and family will thank you for your efforts.

Resolve to make 2012 a better year than the past, and start today to make it happen!

Get ready for 2012!

By Patrick Metallic, CEBS
Manager, Director of Employee Benefit Services

The Facts About Retirement Plan Fee Disclosures
As we approach year’s end, now is a good time for all those in charge of overseeing retirement plans to review their disclosure responsibilities. As we prepare to greet 2012, it’s important to remember that overlooked deadlines or missed disclosure requirements can become a costly mistake.

To help keep you up to date, we’ve developed this handy overview of the new retirement plan fee disclosure rules.

The U.S. Department of Labor has gone to great lengths to help retirement plan sponsors gain better understanding of fees associated with their plans. Fiduciaries require complete fee disclosure by service providers in order to fulfill their responsibilities. Greater fee transparency allows plan sponsors to make more informed decisions, and helps participants become better investors.

Fee Disclosure Regulations for Service Providers
The retirement plan’s service providers must provide fee disclosures to the plan sponsor by April 1, 2012. It must be made in writing and include: services, status and compensation. The disclosure should include a description of services the arrangement provides to the plan. It also must include a statement that it will provide fiduciary services to the plan.

In addition, the disclosure needs to describe all direct and indirect compensation the service provider reasonably expects to receive in connection with services. The description should contain sufficient information to permit evaluation of the reasonableness of the compensation.

A service provider must disclose any change in this information as soon as practicable, but no later than 60 days from the date on which the service provider is informed of changes.

Fee Disclosures to Participants
The plan administrator is responsible for providing fee disclosures to participants effective May 31, 2012. Most investment platforms will provide these to the participants.

Initial notice is required on or before the date the participant can direct his or her first investments. It must include general information on the plan, administrative expenses that may be charged against the account, and designated investment alternatives. This same information must be provided to all eligible employees at least once a year, whether or not they are enrolled in the plan.

A quarterly accounting of all fees and expenses assessed against participants’ plans is required. Notice of any changes to information provided in the initial and annual disclosures must be communicated to participants no later than 30 days, but no sooner than 90 days, prior to the effective date of the change.

If Sponsel CPA Group can be of assistance in helping you with an employee benefit issue, please feel free to contact Pat Metallic at (317) 613-7841 or

Keeping You Informed on Indiana’s Tax Changes

By Jennifer McNett, CPA
Manager, Tax Services

In 2011, Indiana’s lawmakers made several changes that affect income, sales and use taxes. Do any of these changes benefit or burden you? Here’s a quick summary of some of the key changes.

Several of the deductions that had been allowed on federal income tax returns in recent years will need to be added back on your Indiana return for 2011. Some of these include:

  • Deduction for distribution from an individual retirement plan paid directly to a charity.

  • Deduction for qualified tuition and fees.

  • Expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.

  • Excess depreciation deduction for qualified leasehold improvement property classified as 15-year property (Indiana returns to treating as 39-year property).

  • Previously tax-exempt interest income from state and local obligations from outside Indiana (acquired after 12-31-11).

On the upside, there are some new deductions/credits available. These include:

  • A deduction of $1,000 per dependent who was enrolled in a private school or home-schooled (K-12) for tuition, fees, computer software, textbooks and school supplies.

  • A credit of 50% (limited to the current year tax liability) of the contribution to a Scholarship Granting Organization, such as the Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust or other approved SGOs.

Some other changes to note include:

  • Eliminated the net operating loss carryback after 12-31-11 for corporations and individuals.

  • Extended the time to protest an assessment from 45 days to 60 days.

  • Now allow voluntary withholding of state and local taxes from payments for unemployment compensation.

  • Eliminated the health benefit plan tax credit for employers providing health insurance to certain employees.

  • Eliminated the small employer qualified wellness program credit for employers offering a qualified wellness program to employees.

If you would like additional information on any of these changes, please contact Jennifer McNett at 317.613.7857 or

Estate Planning: What You Should Do Now

By Stacey Jarrett, CPA
Manager, Tax Services

We just recently ended estate planning awareness week. Which begs the question: when was the last time you thought about your personal estate plan? For most of us this tends to be one of those items on our lengthy to-do list that we keep pushing off.

There are a few opportunities currently available that may be worth considering. Most of us are aware of the annual gift tax exclusion which allows individuals to give up to $13,000 to each person of their choosing tax-free on an annual basis. However, were you also aware that through the end of 2012 the federal estate and gift tax laws allow for a $5 million life-time exemption – meaning it could be possible to transfer up to $5 million without paying tax? Barring any future action by Congress, this exemption will revert back to the 2001 level of $1 million beginning January 1, 2013.

Removing assets from your estate does not mean you have to give up $5 million today to an underage or irresponsible beneficiary. Many estate planning vehicles exist that can legally remove these assets from your estate while allowing you to retain some control.

Gifting assets to an irrevocable trust for the benefit of your spouse, children, grandchildren, etc. will remove the assets from your estate and also allow for the growth of those assets to be free of estate taxes.

Similarly, a credit shelter trust can be set up to maximize both spouses’ exemptions by shifting an amount equal to the exemption to the spouse upon the taxpayer’s death. Dynasty trusts are available to remove the assets from the estate while preserving them for future generations. If set up correctly, gifts can qualify for the gift tax exclusion.

Life insurance is a common estate planning tool; establishing a life insurance trust can remove the principal assets from the grantor’s estate. If you don’t want to lose cash flow from transferring assets out of your estate, another option might be grantor retained trusts (GRAT or GRUT), which provide for cash flow to the grantor. Today’s low interest rates also make a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) especially advantageous. These are just a few of the options available.

A drawback could exist if Congress decides to allow the reversion back to 2001 levels of $1 million and the 55 percent tax rate. There is always the possibility Congress could decide to enact a “clawback” provision subjecting any prior gifts in excess of the lifetime exemption to be subject to tax. This pitfall is not certain and would seem unlikely, but it will not be known until future legislation is passed.

The question of whether or not to take advantage of any of these estate planning opportunities depends on each taxpayer’s situation. Factors such as net worth, willingness to act without knowing future laws, the amount of discretionary assets and desire to retain control should all be considered. We would be happy to have a conversation to determine what makes the most sense to you.

For additional information, please contact Stacey Jarrett at 317-613-7848 or

Inside Indiana Business Reports On Better Ways to Provide Accounting Services

As some of you may have seen over the weekend, I was a guest on Gerry Dick’s Inside Indiana Business TV show. First of all, let me say “thank you” to Gerry and his team for inviting me to be a guest.

Gerry asked me why I am not focused on retirement, why after over three decades in the business did I choose to launch a new company.  The answer was quite simple – I knew there was a better and different way to provide accounting services.   Please view the entire video and my interview with Gerry Dick.

Sponsel CPA Group, located in downtown Indianapolis, is one of the region’s most experienced full service accounting firms. Providing much more than traditional accounting services, Sponsel CPA Group specializes in Entrepreneurial Services, Auditing and Assurance, Valuation and Litigation, Mergers and Acquisitions, Tax Services, Financial Planning/Wealth Management , Employee Benefit Plan Administration and Technology Services.

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