Complying With New Tax Rules
On Jan. 1, 2005, new rules for nonqualified deferred compensation plans under Internal Revenue Code Sec. 409A went into effect. Grant Thornton LLP, a global accounting, tax and business advisory organization, offers seven suggested steps to help companies follow the new rules:
• Identify arrangements that provide for a deferral of compensation.
• For each arrangement, decide between removing the deferral of compensation or complying with the rules.
• Design each arrangement to comply with the rules.
• Develop and implement policies and administrative procedures
• Prepare a written plan by Dec. 31, 2007.
• Obtain service provider elections as to time and form of payment by year end.
• Evaluate compliance for the period between Jan. 1, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2008.
Small Businesses Concerned With Taxes
Overall, small business owner’s greatest concern for the second quarter of 2007 was taxes, according to a survey conducted by the Small Business Research Board (SBRB) in conjunction with IPA, a privately-held provider of management consulting services to small and medium-size businesses in North America. In the Southern, Southeast and Western regions, taxes ranked as the number one concern of small businesses, while the Midwest and Northeast regions said economic conditions top their concerns, with taxes their second concern. All regions of the U.S., albeit the Western states who seem to be more concerned with foreign competition, the cost of materials and finding quality employees, ranked energy and fuel costs immediately following their concern for taxes. In general, the survey revealed a dramatic change in concern for healthcare – previously first among concerns. According to the latest survey, healthcare dropped to fifth among the concerns of small business owners.
Graceful Exits: Departing Employees Matter
Craig Kurtzman, Las Vegas branch manager for Robert Half International, suggests a simple exit interview with departing employees can provide perspectives on your firm that may create a more productive working environment. Exit interviews should be conducive to gaining constructive criticism about your company and should be conducted by a neutral party – someone who holds no personal bias against the employee – in order to receive frank impressions of the work environment. Formulate questions that will harvest detailed answers before the interview – specific questions that can’t receive a “yes” or “no” reply. An “employee satisfaction survey” may also prove useful. If completed before the exit interview, the interviewer can evaluate the answers given and ask for further explanation when necessary. While reviewing the interview, keep an open mind. Negative, but honest comments can facilitate action that will improve the overall atmosphere and productivity of your company.
Clear Communication in Hiring
A survey developed by OfficeTeam, the International Association of Administrative Professionals and HR.com reported that most administrative professionals have lost an employee because he or she was not suited for the company’s work environment. Nearly half claim misreading a potential work environment or misjudging someone’s fit for a role. To reveal if potential employees will jive with the company atmosphere, ask potential employees what type of work environment brings out optimum performance in them, what type of work environment causes them to thrive. Also ask what they liked best/least about their former job and why and, finally, ask what factors made them successful at their last job. For potential employees, ask what it’s like to work at the prospective company, what skills and attributes are needed for success, what characteristics the company values in its employees, how success is defined there and how performance is measured and rewarded.