MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC

Helping Individuals and Businesses Financially Thrive.

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What is the Audit Process?

Usually referred to as a financial statement audit, an audit is an unbiased examination and evaluation of the financial records of an organization. This process ensures that all records, statements, and transactions are fair and accurate to what the organization reports. Audits can be conducted internally by the organization’s employees or conducted externally by an outside CPA firm. In this month’s blog, we examine the four main phases of the audit process and how it is conducted.

Planning and Preparation

During the planning phase, the auditor will notify the client and discuss the scope and objectives of the evaluation in a formal meeting with the organization’s management. The auditor will also request a copy of the previous audit report, original bank statements, receipts, ledgers, and other necessary files. After gathering background information and meeting with key personnel, the auditor will begin preparing a draft of the audit plan and how it will be executed.

Fieldwork

The fieldwork phase, also known as the execution phase, involves the auditor speaking with staff members and reviewing procedures and processes. There will be tests conducted for compliance with policies and procedures as well as evaluating internal controls. The auditor will also identify and discuss any problems that arise.

Audit Report

After conducting all of the necessary interviews and tests, the auditor will then finalize their audit report draft for review. This report outlines the objective and scope of the audit, relevant background information, the findings, any errors, and recommendations for improvement or correction. During this time, the draft will also be sent to management for their review and will give them a chance to respond to the report. Their responses should include their plans for improvement or correction and what steps they plan to take.

Closing Meeting and Follow-up

Finally, a closing meeting is scheduled with management and the entire report, responses, and any revisions will be reviewed and discussed. If there any issues, they will be resolved in this meeting and once all parties have come to an agreement, the audit report will be finalized. The final audit report including the management responses will then be distributed to all department personnel involved in the audit as well as to the CPA firm if an external auditor was enlisted.

After approximately six months to a year, a follow-up review will be performed to ensure the corrective measures were implemented. The effectiveness and timeliness of actions taken by management since the start of the audit will be evaluated.

Learn More

When you need an audit conducted, call on the reputable services of MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. We have many years of experience executing audits and strive to help companies improve their operations and internal workings. We are here to help you accomplish your objectives and improve the effectiveness of management and other procedures. Learn more by visiting our website or by calling (956) 997-0067 for any questions.

Financial Controller Services

The growing pains that flourishing companies experience look different and fluctuate over time based on department, company size, rate of growth, and other key factors. In finance departments, management may notice that as transactions increase in volume and complexity, managing the day-to-day duties of accounting and finance, while maximizing growth and performance can get overwhelming. When this happens, it may mean it’s time to invest in adding a financial controller to the payroll.

What is a Financial Controller?

A financial controller is someone who’s a certified public accountant (CPA) or has equivalent industry experience and education in accounting or finance. Controllers are hired when a company’s finance department requires supplementary support with some of their financial oversight. Every financial controller job is unique, but most will be responsible for ensuring maximum financial efficiency, health, and compliance within their company.

Who Needs a Controller?

As a company becomes more inundated with business overtime, it is normal to crave additional assistance in order to ease the increasing workload on each individual. It is often the chief financial officer (CFO) of a company who will eventually require the direct support of a financial controller. Depending on the company, a financial controller may be responsible for helping the CFO with financial reports and statements, preparing budgets, providing internal audits, preparing taxes, managing purchase orders and other financial related duties.

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing financial controller services for your growing business can provide a cost-effective resource of support at a critical time in your business’ development. Whether your company needs temporary or permanent financial support, you can rely on Mariela Ruiz, CPA, LLC of South Texas! She has a proven track record in her field and is committed to honesty, efficiency, and success every time! Call our team today at (956) 997-0067 to find out how we can help you and your business thrive!

A Homeowner’s Guide to Tax Deductions

Being a homeowner means you can potentially benefit from multiple tax breaks if itemizing deductions on your tax return makes financial sense. However, itemizing your deductions are only beneficial if it exceeds the IRS standard deduction. To decide whether or not it’s worth it, start by adding up all the deductions you qualify for and compare it to the standard. No one wants to pass up an opportunity to save on taxes, so read on to learn more about tax deductions that may apply to you.

Property Tax

A property tax deductible is one of the benefits of being a homeowner. You can deduct up to $10,000 or $5,000 if you’re married filing separately. You might also be able to deduct property and real estate taxes on vacation homes, land, vehicles, etc. The IRS does not allow deductibles on property you don’t own and property taxes you haven’t paid yet. If you rent a home, you also cannot write off any property taxes.

Mortgage Interest Rates

A mortgage interest deductible allows you to reduce your taxes by how much interest you’ve paid during the year. Most homeowners are able to deduct all of their interest expenses. However, it’s important to seek the advice with a financial advisor because there are certain limits. According to NerdWallet, “the deduction is limited to interest on up to $750,000 of debt”. If it exceeds this amount, then you may not qualify for a tax deduction.

Rental Income Deductions

If you’re paying a mortgage with renters living on the property, then you qualify for a rental income deduction. The money you receive for rent can be considered taxable in the same year your receive it. Repairs, such as painting, fixing utilities, and other maintenance, is a deductible expense. However, improvements that add value to the property, such as a completely new roof or patio, are not deductible.

Home Office Expenses

You can only deduct home office expenses if you are self-employed and are working out of your home. These expenses can be divided into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct expenses apply only to the area designated as your home office and is used only for business. Maintenance and repairs applied to only that area can be considered as fully deductible expenses. On the other hand, indirect expenses involve the maintenance of your entire home. These expenses are only deductible to a certain percentage based on the square footage of your office.

Home Medical Equipment

If you have healthcare or medical equipment installed in your home for you, your spouse, or a dependent, then you can get this deducted. This also includes home improvement costs for installing ramps, rails, an escalator system, widening doorways, and so on. Be sure to keep the documents of your medical equipment including those that confirm it was approved or recommended by a medical specialist.

Solar Power

Did you know adding solar power panels to your roof can be added to your tax deduction? Not only is it better for the environment but it will also benefit as tax credit. Beginning in 2021, homeowners can take 22% of the cost of installing solar systems. However, this benefit will be lost by 2023, while commercial and utility users can only claim 10%. Homeowners should take advantage of this benefit while they can.

Conclusion

Overall, there are many potential tax breaks that you may benefit from. Always be sure to keep your documents of proof organized and safe. If you need help compiling your deductibles or are in need of financial advice, rely on MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. We are here to make the process easy and stress-free. Learn more about our services by visiting our website or calling us at (956) 997-0067.

Accounting for Small Business Owners

One of the most challenging jobs entrepreneurs and small business owners are responsible for is accurately managing their finances and taxes up to legal standards. From payroll services to tax preparations most small business owners find that investing in expert outside help is well worth ensuring meticulous perfection throughout the books. Below we review some key points you or your CPA should be aware of when managing the finances for your small business.

Bookkeeping

It’s crucial for small business owners to keep accurate financial records regarding all aspects of their business through bookkeeping. Bookkeeping can include anything from payroll services and financial statement preparation to reviewing invoices and managing expenses and revenue. It provides vital data that can help with management decisions, taxes, and getting approved for business loans.

Audits

Nearly all successful businesses will perform regular internal and external audits to ensure authenticity and search for any inconsistencies. External audits are more effective than internal audits than because they eliminate any possible conflicts of interest, must be completed by a CPA, and provide impartial results.

Taxes

When it comes to small business taxes there is so much more involved than just the tax preparation itself. Many small business owners benefit from strategic tax planning and audit representation to further ensure their business is safeguarded by the best. Texas is home to the second largest economy in the country and with that comes unique tax conditions for franchise owners, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and other small business owners.

Final Thoughts

Over the years Mariela Ruiz, CPA, LLC has provided countless business owners in Hidalgo County, TX with affordable and convenient bookkeeping and payroll services including audits, tax preparations, financial consulting, forensic accounting and much more. Visit our website for a full list of our array of services or call (956) 997-0067 for any questions you may have.

How Does No State Income Tax Work in Texas?

State income taxes vary by state and are basically a certain percentage of money that residents pay to the state government. This is based on how much income you make at your job. The collected state income tax is then used to fund a variety of public services as well as education, healthcare, transportation, assistance to low-income families, housing, and much more. However, there are currently nine states that have no state income tax. This includes Alaska, Tennessee, Wyoming, Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Washington, Nevada, and our very own state – Texas. So what does this mean? In this month’s blog, we will discuss how no state income tax works in Texas and how public services are funded.

What Does No State Income Tax Entail?

No state income tax means a lower tax bill. This may sound appealing to many, however, don’t start planning your move just yet. Don’t assume living in a state with no income tax is cheaper and you should instead consider how exactly the state funds its public infrastructure and wide array of services.

Sources of Revenue

In order to fund its public services, Texas relies on sales, excise, and property taxes. For example, this means Texan residents tend to pay a higher sales tax when it comes to buying goods. According to The Dallas Morning News, for the fiscal year of 2019, sales tax made up about 26.6% of the state’s net revenue and an additional 19.8% came from taxes on oil production, motor vehicles, cigarettes, and natural gas. As you can see, sales and excise taxes make up almost half of the state’s net revenue, and it doesn’t stop there. Property taxes are also a major source of funding for public services. Texas’s property taxes are higher than most states and residents may see a tax burden of 8.20% of their personal income.

Conclusion

There are different sides to either having a state income tax or not at all. One way or another, there are tradeoffs to make up for the loss of revenue from no state income taxes. If you have any further questions about the different taxes that you have to pay, rely on MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. We provide tax services and solutions to clients in Mission, TX and surrounding areas. To learn more about our services and what we do, please visit our website or call us at (956) 997-0067.

Tax Deductions for Working at Home

The global pandemic of 2020 pushed many businesses to allow their employees to work from home. Many companies look for postponements, cancellations, potentially staff illness, and lockdowns during these difficult times. Many people are looking for tax deductions for working at home. However, getting the tax break is not as simple as it may seem. Here’s some information to consider before trying to get a tax deduction for working at home.

Self-Employed Taxpayers and Independent Contractors

            According to Barbara Weltman, the owner of Big Ideas for Small Business, she states, “If you’re an employee filing taxes between 2018 and 2025, you cannot claim the deduction.” The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act says that an employee cannot include unreimbursed business expenses if they worked from home at their employee’s convenience. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claims that self-employed taxpayers and independent contractors are entitled to the deduction. Additionally, individuals earning money in a gig economy can potentially claim the credit, such as a person who is an employee and a gig worker on the side. Many states such as Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania will let employees take deductions on home office expenses.

Eligible Individuals

            As explained by the IRS, individuals who are exclusively and regularly using their home as a place of business can receive the tax deduction. Unfortunately, a spare bedroom or detached garage used only a few times throughout the year may not fit in exclusive and regular quota. It is important to understand that an audit’s stresses do not compare to the benefits of a deduction. The best thing to do is take a picture of the workspace to present evidence to the IRS.

Two Types of Deduction

            There are two types of tax deductions that an individual may receive depending upon a few elements. Firstly, there is a simplified method that offers a deduction of $1,500 to taxpayers. It requires filling out a Schedule C document, which asks the total square footage of a home and the space being used as a business inside the house.  The IRS will conduct an equation of $5 per square foot, making a home office space of 300 square feet have a tax break. Schedule C’s benefit is that a tax filer does not have to keep evidence of home office expenses.

The other tax deduction can be a tremendous tax saver for people who have been working from home for a long time. IRS Form 8829 is where you show your math in claiming the deduction by adding business expenses like rent, utilities, renters’ insurance, and improvements to space. Some self-employed taxpayers may be losing money by choosing the simplified method.

Conclusion

            Receiving a tax deduction is always a great way to save money. However, there are some specific requirements that people working from home need to meet. Also, taxpayers who are patient can find themselves with more money in their pockets. For more useful information, you can contact MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. We specialize in all helping individuals and businesses financially thrive. For many years we have offered various services, including forensic accounting, tax services, financial consulting, bookkeeping, and much more. Our many years of experience ensure that you’re in good hands. Visit our website to contact us today!

What is Solar Power Tax Credit?

Green energy sources have many benefits to you and the world, including a federal tax credit or home and business owners who have had solar power panels installed before December 31. The federal solar tax credit, known as the investment tax credit (ITC), is much more profitable than a deduction. However, for taxpayers to get the full benefit, the world needs a sufficient income. Here are what tax professionals should know about ITC.

Introduction

When the government provides a tax incentive, it is happy about it, especially when local and state enticements convoy it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the government passed the ITC as part of the Energy Policy Act, which has been extended four times since its initial passage. The credit is now at 26 percent for the next two years so that eligible taxpayers can have a dollar-for-dollar decrease in the amount of income tax they owe. Taxpayers are looking forward to 2023 because the tax credit will drop to 22 percent. Renewable portfolio standards are in some states where utility companies give clients a specified minimum amount of electricity from solar. Utility companies buy energy made by a solar customer’s house. The value of solar renewable energy certificates will vary by state, but this is an example of taxpayer liberation.

How Does It Work?

            Solar power panels remain to provide people with prospective savings after filing their taxes. Solar energy creates opportunities to resell excess energy, evade power outages when harmonizing with a battery, and charge electric cars. The sun’s rays shine on the solar panels resulting in generating electricity that gives homeowners lower electric bills. The energy is completely free to the owner once the payment to the solar company ends. Also, solar power works all day, even when it is raining or dark overcast. Utility companies can offer the ability to sell back electricity to the grid for a credit on a homeowner’s electric bill. The utility companies can credit a home’s electric account.

The government is devoted to solar power that many states and cities have recognized property tax exemptions on solar. The solar panel installation calculates property tax fees giving homeowners and companies more money.

Conclusion

Solar energy panels have many benefits for businesses and homeowners. However, it could be challenging to understand everything about the tax deduction that comes with installation. You can count on Mariela Ruiz, CPA, PLLC, to help you with your taxes. We can give you tax advice for any situation you are in and find a financial solution that benefits you. We want to save you money by providing attentive and well-strategized plans, so call us at (956) 997-0067 today!

Common Itemized Deductions

When you are preparing to file your taxes, don’t forget about itemized deductions. These are individual tax deductions you can take in lieu of the standard deduction. Making the decision to itemize could potentially save you more money on taxes. To learn more about the types of deductions you can itemize, continue reading our blog.

Charitable Deductions

Did you contribute to a charity in the past year? If you made donations to a qualifying organization, you can itemize and therefore, lower your tax bill. It’s important to keep a record of donations, which can include everything from bank records to receipts. Make sure that you have the name of the organization, the amount donated, and the date. The more information you have, the more accurate your tax form will be.

Medical and Dental Expenses

Medical expenses are deductible as itemized deductions, but in a very limited way. You can only deduct the amount of medical expenses that exceed 10% of your AGI or 7.5% if you’re over 65. You and your family members that have qualifying medical expenses can take advantage of these deductions. Examples include: doctor’s fees, co-pays, prescriptions, transportation to a medical facility, and more.

Work-Related Education Expenses

If you choose to itemize work-related education expenses, you may be able to deduct these expenses from your taxes. To claim this deduction, costs must be related to maintaining or improving job skills and required by your employer. These costs include tuition, books, lab fees, travel, etc. It’s also important to note that you can only deduct these expenses if they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income.

Conclusion

If you have questions about itemized deductions for your 2020 taxes, then call MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. We have the tax solutions you need to get more out of your tax return. From income tax preparation to strategic tax planning, contact our advisors for more details on how you can save money!

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What You Need to Know for the 2021 Tax Season

Many will agree that 2020 has been a year of unique challenges but 2021 is just right around the corner! With that being said, below we discuss some things to keep in mind as we approach 2021 and the upcoming tax season.

Tax Day is Thursday April 15th, 2021

This is the date you must file you taxes before! Most can take the standard deduction which has increased from this year to $12,400 for single filers and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly. You may also itemize your deductions which is a little bit more painstaking, however is worth it if your itemized deductions exceed your standard deduction.

Stimulus Checks Aren’t Taxable

The CARES Act was instituted near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave many citizens a onetime payment of $1200. These payments will not count as taxable income in the upcoming year which is great news for most tax payers! You can think of it as a kind of advanced refund you would have received as part of your 2021 tax refund.

Unemployment Income is Taxable

The pandemic has caused much of the country to shut down for extended periods of time, leaving many Americans jobless through no fault of their own. If you were one of the millions of Americans who received unemployment benefits in 2020, you have to pay taxes on that income. If you opted to defer taxes on your unemployment payments before you received them then you will need to save for the taxes that will be due when you file, or pay estimated quarterly taxes to stay ahead.

Final Thoughts

As always, consult your tax professional to get the most out of your taxes in 2021 and speak with someone who can help you in your specific financial situation. Mariela Ruiz, CPA, PLLC is here to help individuals and business owners in the Mission, TX community with their taxes and wishes you all a prosperous 2021!

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