MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC

Helping Individuals and Businesses Financially Thrive.

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The CPA: Your Litigation Support Professional

There are a wide variety of types of court cases that can require the additional support of a CPA. Oftentimes in civil and business litigation, courts and powerful legal teams will require a CPA to weigh in based on their expertise in finances and accounting. Follow along with this blog to learn about the types of cases they typically work on and how having a CPA on your legal team can help you get the case results you seek.

Forensic Accounting

While forensic accounting may sound like a job reserved for detectives or the secret service, it is broad term used when a certified accountant applies the theories and principles of accounting in a legal setting. A CPA hired for litigation support purposes will review bank statements, receipts, time sheets, and any other necessary financial documents involving the case.

Business and Civil Litigation

Too often complex accounting, appraising, and tax issues find their way into business litigation. A certified public accountant with litigation support experience most often work either for or against a business to prove or disprove alleged disputes. For example, forensic accounting can either make or break cases involving bankruptcy, fraud, data analysis, damage evaluations and more.

In addition to business litigation, civil litigation cases will often require the additional support and expertise of a CPA as well. Most often their role in court will be as a consultant, but there are times when they are asked to stand as an expert witness too. Civil cases that could benefit from a CPA’s support can include those involving marital settlements, taxes, valuations and more.

Conclusion

When litigation is simply unavoidable, ensure that you have a solid legal team working in your favor. A CPA working to support your case will able to provide a judge and jury with indisputable evidence and facts that less qualified individuals wouldn’t have been able to uncover. For a CPA who’s highly experienced in providing top notch litigation support and forensic accounting services, contact us today!

What is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accounting is a combination of accounting, auditing and investigative skills used to examine financial settings of an individual or business. These accounting experts are enlisted during a fraud or embezzlement among other legal proceedings, where they provide accounting analyses to help the court better understand the financial crimes that took place. Insurance companies, police forces, banks, and government agencies typically employ them. The financial information that they compile can be used in court, and may be asked to testify in court as well as provide visual aids to support the trial evidence that they discovered.

There’s a variety of forms in which an accountant provides these services. Read along as we discuss a few of them.

Litigation Support

Running a business or company is not an easy task, and when dealing with financial crimes or legal disputes, simply relying on your in-house staff to resolve an issue is not enough. This is where litigation support comes to play. Litigation support is used in litigation cases where the quantification of damages needs to be determined, through legal research and valuation of property. These services are provided to help both parties involved come to a resolution before they reach the courtroom. If a dispute reaches the courtroom, the forensic accountant may then be asked to testify as an expert witness.

Civil and Criminal Investigation

Forensic accounting in criminal investigations is used to determine if financial criminal matters such as employee theft, fraud, and insurance fraud have been committed. A forensic accountant can be used during a civil matters as well. A civil investigation will help identify: hidden assets in a divorce case, breach of contracts, or business valuation disputes. 

Finding the Right Forensic Accountant

The right forensic accountant delivers a vast array of accounting services during legal matters. Their evidence can be used during court, and will often be asked to testify as an expert witness. They are reliable, thorough, and highly experienced in accounting, and have a good understanding of the courtroom.

Mariela Ruiz, CPA, PLLC is here to provide efficient and trustworthy forensic accounting services to the community of Mission, TX. From litigation support to criminal and civil investigation, you can depend on our team to help your company determine the facts in your current financial situation. To learn more about our accounting firm and services, visit our website.

Strategic Tax Planning Tips

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Planning for the upcoming tax season? Perhaps you’re already thinking about next years? If you want the best outcome for your tax return, it’s a good idea to do a little bit of research before you click ‘submit’ to the IRS. From looking over previous tax documents to claiming medical and education expenses, there are many ways you can make a difference when it comes to filing. Follow along in our blog for strategic tax planning tips.

Check Last Year’s Documents

Before starting on your current taxes, review the previous year to check for errors. If you have documents like W-2 and 1099s in your filing cabinet, go through them and make sure there are no inaccuracies. Identifying any problems early on can give you more time to resolve any issues with the company who sent the document.

Organize Investment Earnings

According to WrapManager, “the IRS requires that you report your interest and dividend categories separately.” With your investment accounts, it’s important to keep all statements and records pertaining to your earnings. Even if yearly statements have an overall review included, details of monthly or quarterly statements may be needed for your filing too.

Write Down Medical or Education Expenses

Having proof of medical records will allow you to make tax deductions, but only if you have the proper documentation. Claims that are commonly made can be anything from travel expenses to medical appointments, treatments that aren’t covered by insurance, and much more. Likewise, college-related expenses can also be deducted. Costs for tuition, books, and boarding are just a few examples. WrapManager advises to “keep track of these records throughout the year, either in a paper folder or an electronic file.”

Conclusion

Talk with a tax professional at MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC today. We work with individuals and businesses that need assistance with tax planning and much more. For a full list of our financial services, visit our website here. You can also reach us at (956) 997-0067 to speak directly to one of our advisors. Contact us today!

Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare For Tax Season

Just the thought of tax season approaching can cause people of all kinds to stress. Whether you are self-employed or own a small business, taxes are confusing and overwhelming. If you are a small business owner, we’re here for you! Follow along with these tips to see how you can best prepare for filing!

Here are some tips: 

One of the first ways you can feel prepared is by consistently keep your personal tax information separate from your business’s tax information. It is important to remember you will have to file each separately, so keeping them from getting mixed together is a great way to avoid stress later on down the line. 

Another great way to prepare is by keeping track of all your business records. Ensuring your payroll and other lists detailing your expenses are all in order is a great way to feel less lost. When you can easily lay everything out, there will be less confusion! If you are struggling with understanding the types of documents needing to be saved, hiring a professional bookkeeper is the best way to ensure your confidence. 

Finally, seek help with payroll! While it may seem easy enough, hiring a professional who can keep track of all your payroll expenses and documents is a great investment. Not only can you cross the worry of weekly payroll duty off your list, but also come tax season you are going to have a perfectly laid out file. You and your tax professional will be much happier with perfectly kept records from an experienced bookkeeper!

Conclusion

Tax season is unavoidable, so instead of stressing and putting off the inevitable, feel prepared! Hire a bookkeeping expert to help you year-round. Visit MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLCto get started today.

How to Minimize Your Chance of an Audit

Tax season is upon us. Whether you intend on getting money back from the government or paying in, every citizen is at risk of being audited if the IRS is tipped off by discrepancies or other suspect information on your tax return. Read the following tips to learn how to avoid an audit this tax season.

Inaccurate Donated Amounts

The IRS encourages individuals to donate clothes, food and even used cars to charities. It does this by offering a deduction in return for a donation. The problem is that it is up to the individual owner to determine the value of the item. As a general rule, the IRS likes to see individuals value the items they donate anywhere between 1% and 30% of the original price. Unfortunately, many taxpayers ignore this guideline or simply aren’t aware of it.

There are several other ways that the taxpayer can ensure that they are valuing donated goods at an equitable price.  One of the ways is hiring an appraiser to write a letter, naming their opinion on the worth of the item.

Simple and Avoidable Math Errors

Many returns are selected for audit due to basic mathematical mistakes. When filling out your tax return (or double-checking your accountant’s work) make sure that the numbers add up. Also, make sure that the total dollar value of and/or losses are properly calculated. Even the smallest errors can alarm the IRS.

Failure to Sign

A surprisingly large number of people simply forget to sign their tax returns. Don’t be a part of this group. Failure to sign the return will almost guarantee additional examination because the IRS will wonder what else you might have forgotten to include in your records.

Under-Reported Income

It is vitally important that you report all income that you received throughout the year from work and/or from the sale of an asset. If you fail to report income and get caught, you will be forced to pay back-taxes plus penalties. While it may be tempting to not report some income, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Home Office Deductions

Be careful with home office deductions. Deductions that are too large in proportion to your income can raise a huge red flag. For example, if you earned money as an accountant working from home, extravagant home-office related deductions will raise the ire of the IRS.  Deduct only items that were used in the course of your business.

Conclusion

When it’s time to file your annual taxes, make sure you cover all your bases to avoid scrutiny from the government. While there is less than a 1% chance you will be chosen for an audit, there’s no reason to not take every precaution just to be safe. For exemplary accounting services and tax services you can trust, contact the experts at Mariela Ruiz, CPA, PLLC.

What is a PLLC and What Do They Do?

Chances are you have seen the letters LLC posted after a company’s name, but do you know what it means? It’s important to first understand what a limited liability company (LLC) is and what it does in order to understand what a professional limited liability company (PLLC) is. Follow along with this blog to find out the difference between the two, who can form these groups, and why they do.

LLC vs PLLC

An LLC is a term used in the U.S. to describe a type of hybrid corporate structure used by some professional companies. These companies are owned by multiple partners, or members, which work to ultimately combine the liability protections of a corporation with the tax benefits of a partnership. The most notable difference here between the two is that unlike a PLLC, virtually anyone can become a member of an LLC.

A PLLC is essentially the same as an LLC but is owned and operated by licensed members of the same profession who will only be performing services specific to their profession. Some states require these professionals to form PLLC’s rather than standard LLC’s because they are licensed specialists. A major difference between these two types of companies is that members of a PLLC are personally liable for their own malpractice, should it occur, but not each other’s.

Who can form a PLLC?

In the states where PLLC’s are required to do business, groups are generally made up of lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, and other licensed professionals. This partnership arrangement requires documents to be filed with and approved by the state the business hopes to operate in. Additionally, each of the members will need to have their licenses validated by the state before approval.

Benefits of a PLLC

There are some pretty notable benefits in establishing an LLC or PLLC rather than a corporation. The main benefits of PLLCs are their limits on liability and the tax perks. More specifically, their limitations on liability for owner’s taxation and the availability of pass-through taxation. Pass-through taxation enforces that PLLC’s are the responsible parties at tax time, and not the owners. Additionally, these individuals will not be personally liable for the business’ debts or any lawsuits against the business.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, only licensed professionals of the same profession can establish PLLC’s. Though it’s important to keep in mind that each state has their own list of rules and regulations about PLLC’s and the steps that must be taken to establish and operate one. Ultimately, these two types of companies are much easier and cheaper to form than traditional corporations are.

Deciding if you should choose to do business with a member of a PLLC is a no brainer. Professionals who are members of PLLC’s will most likely be very serious licensed professionals who are supported by a group of other educated professionals. For a top notch certified public accountant who is also a PLLC member, call on the offices of Mariela Ruiz, CPA, PLLC.

How to Find a Reliable Accountant

When it comes to our finances, there is no such thing as too much organization and attention to detail. The notion of having our money taken care of and kept in the right places can do wonders for alleviating our stress and allow us peace of mind. One of the best ways to ensure our financial security is by hiring a professional. The only tricky part of bringing in a certified personal accountant (CPA) is finding one you can trust with your livelihood. Keep reading to learn some tips on how to spot a qualified CPA and help you keep the money rolling in smoothly.

They Are Always Communicating With You:

One of the most vital aspects to a good CPA is their communication skills. If your accountant isn’t keeping you in the loop about what’s going on with your finances, that’s not a great sign it will be a smooth working relationship. The ability to articulate information to you about the state of any aspects of your portfolio, from your assets to your investments or liabilities, is paramount to your future and the reason CPA’s are hired in the first place.

They Plan Your Finances Throughout The Entire Year:

While this statement seems to be a no-brainer, you would be surprised to find out how many accountants struggle to focus on your long term futures and securities as opposed to more immediate financial management strategies. One of the best upsides to having a CPA you can trust should be the knowledge that they are spending time planning your financial strategy throughout the entire fiscal year or even longer, as opposed to advising you on week to week transactions. Keeping an eye on the future while managing the present is always the best way to grow your personal wealth, so finding a CPA that understands that can be crucial.

They Give You Tips On How To Budget:

Hiring a personal accountant that cares more about coming in, doing the basic necessities of their job each day and then clocking out will never bring you the returns that you are looking for. It is often hard to see from the outside if your accountant is going above and beyond or not, but one of the best indicators of this is the advice they give you and the regularity with which they give it. Daily, weekly and monthly budgeting tips, while not a requirement, should be expected from any CPA. The more any client knows about their finances, the better it will work out in the long term. Whether it’s merely calling to advise against a trend of purchases they see you making or providing a helpful way to save money in an area they see you are spending too much, a CPA is your financial lifeline, which means they should always be there to have your back on any financial matter.

They Don’t Mind Explaining Anything To You:

To most people, this seems like a relatively simple and obvious task for a CPA, because it merely requires them to not find your lack of knowledge about intricate financial matter frustrating. However, it is shocking how many CPA’s believe relative autonomy is the way to go when it comes to your money, which is a relatively absurd notion. While it’s true that any CPA should have deeper knowledge of your financial situation, there needs to be a consistent dialogue between them and their client that centers around informing them as much as they can about any financial matter. The more a client knows, the better they can work with their CPA to ensure they flourish when it comes to short-term and long-term financial goals.

Conclusion:

There are so many factors that go into choosing the right CPA for you. It’s important to feel safe and secure leaving your finances in another person’s hands, so why not know you are getting the best person for the job right from the start? With Mariela Ruiz, CPA, there’s nothing more important than the financial success of clients, so schedule a consultation today and take that first step towards a more prosperous future!

What You Can Expect When Hiring a Business Consultant

Making the decision to bring on a business consultant can be a step in the right direction for your business. Whether you’re searching for a strategic planning partner or more insight into your financials, finding a consultant who can keep your business on track is a game changer. You should hire someone with background knowledge on your industry, organized planning skills, and the ability to develop training programs based on your needs. For more information on what a business consultant can do for you, keep reading!

Initial Assessment

When you set up an official meeting with a consultant, he or she will be able to provide you with an initial assessment. With this assessment, the consultant can detail your business’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as ways to implement improvements. You can also discuss goals and expectations up front, which will help your consultant understand what your wants and needs are. The more information you give up front, the better results and growth you will see overall.

Strategic Planning

Once you’ve gone over the assessment of your business, here’s where your consultant’s organized planning skills will come into play. He or she will come up with manageable business strategies that you can start applying to the company. Small adjustments to your business, like upgrading to newer technology or addressing management problems, are just some of the suggestions your consultant might talk to you about. Of course, a quality business consultant will hold you accountable to make these actions, while giving you guidance along the way. The proper consultant would want your business to succeed!

Effective Training

If your business is underperforming in certain areas, your consultant might recommend management and staff development training. Training targeted for specific levels in your departments can improve communication between management and build quality leadership skills. Although the progress and change you’re hoping for will take time, aiming for the desired results is possible today. Your commitment as a business owner and as a leader to the company is important; your goals can be achievable!

Conclusion

If you want to see improvements for your business, we suggest hiring a business consultant to meet your financial and consulting needs. Here at MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC, we can address your management concerns and form a plan of action. To get in contact with one of our professional consultants, please call or visit our website today!

What’s the Difference between Accountants and Bookkeepers?

When it comes to accounting and bookkeeping, there are many differences. While these careers have many similarities and common goals, they are there to support your business in very different ways and for different parts of its business operations. Simply put, bookkeeping is more transactional and administrative while accounting is there to give you proper business insights based on bookkeeping information. We understand that you might not know the differences between these careers; we hope the following blog will give you all the information you need.

Accounting

As previously stated, accountants take care of the big picture   by providing you with business insights based on bookkeeping information. An accountant will process all the financial information that was brought to you by the bookkeeper or business owner. From there, he or she will create a financial model using that information. Accountants’ analysis should inform you on business trends and growth opportunities.

Accounting Duties:

  • Analyzing costs of operations
  • Aiding in the understanding of the impact of financial decisions
  • Completing income tax returns
  • Preparing and adjusting data entries
  • Preparing company financial statements

Bookkeeping

Bookkeepers, on the other hand, will play more of an administrative role in the business. They are more focused on recording financial transactions.  This will help build a business to be financially successful. The bookkeeper is on the ground floor, managing your daily transactions and looking out for changes to the organization or significant financial events that should be addressed immediately.

Bookkeeper Duties:

  • Completing payroll
  • Maintaining and balancing subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts
  • Posting debits and credits
  • Producing invoices
  • Recording financial transactions

Businesses will succeed more often than not when they have a complete picture of their finances, and bookkeepers and accountants each look at a business’ numbers through different lenses. In order to receive the best advice for your business, it is essential to have both an accountant and bookkeeper by your side. If you are looking for someone you can trust with your bookkeeping or accounting services, you can count on MARIELA RUIZ, CPA, PLLC. No matter what you are looking for, we have got you covered.

Why You Should Hire a Tax Expert

Nobody looks forward to doing their taxes. If you’re a business owner, doing taxes can be a huge, time-consuming burden. Seeking help from a professional is a service you should really consider! To learn more about why you should contact a professional during tax season, continue reading our blog!

Employees

Doing taxes by yourself when you have a large group of employees can be nearly impossible. Trying to run your business professionally while keeping track of everyone’s wages and taxes is a stressful burden. When you hire a professional, they are able to help by keeping track and crunching all the numbers for you. This allows you to focus on being a professional and attentive business owner without the constant worry about your tax status.

Save Time

At the end of a long day, nobody wants to come home and focus on numbers all night. As a business owner, you are already doing a lot of work that often cuts into your personal time. Between worrying about your facility and how your employees are performing, you don’t have time to stress about sorting forms and numbers for tax season. Instead of spending your free time doing more work, allow a professional to step in. Their job will be to take care of the numbers and forms while you spend some much needed time away from work and with your family instead.

Numbers

Not everybody is an expert in math. If you struggle with numbers or simply would rather not deal with them, hiring a professional to work on your taxes is best. Keeping track of everything can be stressful and is unneeded when you can easily have someone handle your receipts and payroll information.

Laws

As a business owner, it’s important to know all the laws regarding your business. However, having tax laws memorized can be a bit excessive. When doing your business taxes, you don’t want to risk making any mistakes. Contacting a professional can minimize the risk of illegally doing anything that may harm your business. You’ll have peace of mind and also a connection to other business-minded people!

Conclusion

At the end of the day, taxes are stressful. The last thing anyone wants to do is come home after a day of work and continue to sort tax information. If you’re interested in hiring a tax professional to help with your books, check out our website to get started!

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