Whether written by hand or formalized in print, having an official prepared will is better than having none. In the case of a New Jersey man last year, a court even determined his codicil handwritten in his own blood to be valid. As technology infiltrates more and more industries, estate planning is getting its first taste of going digital with the emergence of electronic wills.

Almost identical to standard hand-prepared wills, an electronic or e-will documents’ main difference comes in the form of an E-signature. As of now, the legal validity of a signature online, whether from a Tablet/Stylus duo or a computer-generated mark, is being determined at the state level on a case by case basis. In response, a state law advisory board called the Uniform Law Commission has considered this new trend and is working to develop standards to make things clearer state to state.

The most significant cause of worry for estate planners comes in the potential for corruption and abuse. Many estate planning experts have stressed that there are legitimate reasons that the process is so formalized, stemming back to protecting their clients. The advantage of getting personalized face to face advice versus going the DIY route is immense, especially considering the sensitivity and long-term value of estate planning. An experienced estate planning advisor can provide custom tailored guidance, achieving your family’s goals with certainty. Each estate plan has unique complexities when accounting for different goals and types of assets, and an estate planning advisor should have the expertise to execute your documents correctly and update your estate plan as necessary.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

It is no secret that failure to report crucial financial information on your tax returns can result in hefty fines and legal repercussions with the IRS, but some people still try to hide their earnings overseas. A United States schoolteacher was caught with over a million dollars in funds unreported in her United Bank of Switzerland account that resulted in a hefty $803,530 fine. Unsurprisingly, The Court of Federal Claims deemed her willfully and recklessly guilty after she tried to contest her punishment in court.

In 1999, Mindy Norman opened a foreign UBS numbered bank account allowing her to hide her financial information from the IRS. A year later, in 2000, she also waived her rights to invest in U.S. securities to further conceal her account. Later in 2008 when UBS implemented a New Business Model that informed its clients that it would soon be assisting the U.S in finding fraudulent individuals, Norman closed her UBS account and moved her money to Wegelein and Co., a now-defunct Swiss bank.

In 2009, The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) was enacted to urge the owners of offshore accounts to disclose their banking information at the promise of more lenient FBAR fines. If properly communicated and approved by the IRS, the standard fine of 50% of the unreported account balance could be reduced to 20%. Norman and her accountant opted for an alternative form of reporting called “quiet disclosure” for 2009 which included amended FBARS and tax returns for 2003-2008. Taxpayers including Norman are informed that filing this way could be risky as it could result in examination/prosecution of statements for applicable years.

Seeing as she taught both government and economics with a total of at least seven subjects, the court concluded her claims to have never read documents related to her accounts invalid. Additionally, her consistently changing testimony further shot down her arguments attempting to make her appear to have no knowledge of tax implications. Her case was dismissed, and the fine was upheld losing her half her earnings, a risky lesson to those attempting to evade the IRS.

Talley’s experienced team of tax professionals provide comprehensive tax compliance and consulting services so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. We welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you. For more information, contact us today.

With 2018 fresh in the rear-view mirror, many entrepreneurs and executives are taking time to reflect on what worked and what did not last year. While New Year’s Resolutions can act as a catalyst for change in both your personal and professional life, they usually reflect short-term thinking and fall short.

So why do resolutions not work? For starters, resolutions tend to be vague and lofty in nature. Some individuals simply don’t know where to start and give up immediately.  Others lack an executable plan of action to achieve their goals once they get going. And lastly, there are those who don’t know how to sustain their goals once they reach them (e.g. keeping the weight off after losing it initially).  Sounds familiar? These challenges to resolutions draw many parallels to several critical life cycle stages of a typical business model: Start-Up, Growth, and Stabilization. Each stage comes with its own set of challenges to overcome and opportunities to leverage.

Given their abysmal success rate, your company’s strategic plan for 2018 and beyond should not take on the flawed form of resolutions. Set goals and milestones instead and pick those that will impact you the most. Here are some pointers we’ve collected along the way.

Write your plan down. While it’s great to brainstorm goals, without writing down your mission, focus fades and continuity begins to decrease. Putting pen to paper forces you to identify and define the specific goals that you are working toward.

Be realistic about your expectations. Whether it’s about weight-loss or company growth, setting unattainable goals doesn’t help your success, it hampers it. It’s better to establish a set of smaller goals that can be expanded upon than something you feel you’ll never actually reach. Think about the most important things that will impact your business, and with hard work and effort, you can actually achieve.

Establish milestones to track success. A year is a long time to stay focused. Here’s where effective planning comes into play. Think about what success looks like in both the short term and long term to keep yourself motivated. Be sure to set key performance indicators for each of the goals you set to make sure you are on track.

What are your goals for 2018?

Whether your goal for 2019 is improving the quality or timeliness of financial statements, growth through strategic acquisition, or developing a tax-efficient succession plan, the advisors at Talley are here to help you. Contact us today to see how we can assist you with your strategic goals in 2018.

Growing a business takes a certain level of both personal and professional investment to better the likelihood of success.  With the nonstop demands that come with running a business, even the most energetic of leaders can get worn down and many entrepreneurs have experienced firsthand how not letting go of the “CEO of Everything” mentality can lead to sub-par results. Here are a few ways to keep things in check so you can consistently show up at your best.

Take a 10,000 foot view. With the daily influx of emails, message pings and phone calls, it’s easy to see productivity as a measure of how fast we clear our inboxes and how many items we tick off our to-do lists. These lists are certainly helpful, but the real value CEOs bring to the table doesn’t always fit in a series of checkboxes. To fully comprehend crises, challenges and opportunities within a business, CEOs do well to take a 10,000-foot perspective, not just a close-up.

Don’t micro-manage mundane tasks. The surest way to stifle innovation and decrease your own productivity as well as that of your staff and partners—is to micro-manage every task. Eventually, as your business grows, the day-to-day administrative tasks of running an organization will take valuable time away from growing your business.  Smart business owners know when it’s time to hire help to scale their growth initiatives.

Systemize and automate as much as possible. Take a closer look at how your business process works, from your marketing process to your customer acquisition to purchase fulfillment and look for ways to make each step easier. Is there a part of your business that slows you down or frustrates you? Find a way to make challenging aspects work on autopilot (or as much as possible) and it will free you up to tackle other responsibilities and make your business run smoother.

It’s necessary for business leaders to be keenly aware of the goings-on, processes and results in their companies, providing guidance and support where needed. But is it necessary to enter every invoice yourself? Make every social media post? Schedule every vendor meeting? Instead, find team members and service partners who can help you focus what you do best: grow your business.

To learn more how Talley can help grow your business, give us a call today.

For the entrepreneur, there’s usually much more to personal finance than a W-2 employee content to passively funnel money into 401(k)s and IRAs full of mutual funds.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself when planning for future success.

Are you taking advantage of all the legally allowed tax savings? The IRS tax code is more than 5,700 pages long (over 75,000+ pages if you count supporting documents like court case rulings). That includes which deductions you can take and which strategies you can implement. Whether it’s forgetting to deduct the interest from business loans, paying business items on a personal credit card, not recording self-employed health insurance properly, or forgetting to write-off business transportation taxes, missed deductions add up fast.

Do you have the capital to take advantage of growth opportunities and to get through hard times? With enough liquidity in your “back pocket” you can greatly reward your business and even save it in the future. For example, if the right business opportunity comes along and it requires a capital investment, you’ll be able to act quickly. Additionally, if your business hits a rough patch, you won’t need to look at financing options to get through the tough times.

Do you have an estate plan in order? It seems morbid, but it’s a vital issue to address. What happens if you’re not around anymore? Do you have a succession plan for your business in the event of incapacity or death?

Proper estate planning—deciding on the “who, what, when, and how”—and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs possible is a challenging affair. Start early.

Proper business planning is a complex and on-going effort. It requires expert counsel from a professional with knowledge and experience, one who’s familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures.

Talley shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current levels of success. With over 25 years of experience helping high net worth individuals and business owners, Talley has the expertise necessary to assist entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation through succession.

It’s not uncommon for billionaires to give up some of their money to charity, but some give a lot more than others to causes close to their hearts. The Giving Pledge, championed by Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates, invites the world’s wealthiest to pledge more than half of their wealth to charitable causes either during their lives or in their wills.  As of this year, 186 ultra high-net worth individuals have joined the effort, with many promising to allocate more than 99% of their wealth to philanthropy. 
Last year, the 5 most generous individuals and couples gave away a combined $14.7 billion. Here are some of the more notable pledgers and what causes they support.
Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, funds invaluable scientific research through the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Allen established the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which studies the genetic causes of brain diseases and disorders. As of 2015, Allen has donated $2 billion to charity.
Warren Buffett pledged to give away more than 99% of his riches and has already donated over $21.5 billion. Buffett noted in his pledge letter that “about 20% of my shares (in Berkshire Hathaway stock) have been distributed” to various charities and he will continue to distribute another 4% of his stock every year.
Bill and Melinda Gates are champions in eradicating preventable diseases. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda gave away more money than anyone else last year, donating $4.8 billion, according to Forbes. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds initiatives and programs around the world that support agricultural development, emergency relief, urban poverty, global health, and education. They are particularly devoted to fighting diseases that, with treatments like vaccinations, are easily preventable.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are fighting Ebola and improving San Francisco Bay-area public schools. Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first individuals to join the Giving Pledge and donated $2 billion last year. 
No matter the amount, your generosity in gifting time and money to worthwhile causes can have a significant impact on your tax liability. While tax considerations should never drive your charitable giving, it makes sense to structure your gifting to maximize the tax benefits. If you have questions regarding your gifting or estate plan, please contact Talley LLP today.
Why is it so important to fail at something before we can succeed? Whether you simply drop the ball, or experience an epic fail, it is almost a necessity to see that failure is part of the process and to see it as a tool as opposed to a roadblock. For over 25 years, Talley LLP has had the pleasure of working with many successful entrepreneurs and world championship athletes. Here are a few of our favorite lessons on failure we’ve picked up along the way.
Success grows from failure. Bill Gates is one of the most recognizable figures in the tech industry, and is on Forbes’ list of wealthiest people on the planet. Many people attribute his success to having had a great idea at just the right time during the technology boom. But the reality is, Gates experienced a sizeable failure before he ever dreamed up Microsoft. Originally, Gates and his business partner Paul Allen created a product called Traf-O-Data, which analyzed data from traffic tapes. The device had some serious kinks and the company never took off, but it was seminal in preparing Gates to make Microsoft’s first product several years later.
Failure can simply mean a change in direction is required. Love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? You’re not alone. Here is a story of two gentlemen that completely reversed course in their lives yet managed to become admirably successful. Mr. Ben Cohen dropped out of college, while Mr. Jerry Greenfield failed to get into medical school, and both managed to become and remain wildly successful after attending an ice-cream making class and putting together a $12,000 investment.
Don’t give up. Despite now having dozens of financially successful and popularly titles in circulation, Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was nearly a failure. The novel was rejected 30 times before it was finally accepted and published, leading to King’s breakout career. King considered quitting, but his perseverance (or arguably his wife’s) kept him going.
At Talley, we understand the challenges facing both professional athletes and entrepreneurs when it comes to generating and protecting income earned in the ring, on the field or in the boardroom. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute upon your goals.

The U.K. said it will move ahead with plans to introduce a first-of-its-kind tax on locally generated revenue by large technology firms, representing the most tangible attempt yet by an industrialized nation to transition its tax code into an increasingly digital era.

Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, on Monday unveiled a 2 percent tax on the revenue that big search engines, social-media platforms and online marketplaces earn in the country.

Such taxes, which are separate from corporate income taxes many companies already pay, are generally known as digital taxes and could add billions of dollars to companies’ tax bills. They seek to impose levies on digital services sold by global companies in a given country from units based outside that country.

As large tech firms have grown into global, digital consumer-service giants, governments outside their home jurisdictions have struggled with the digital nature of their wares in coming up with an appropriate level of local tax to levy.

Big American tech firms have been criticized for reporting relatively little of their profit in local jurisdictions, opening them up to scrutiny. An international effort among rich nations to help standardize how and where to tax these digital services has been progressing slowly. The U.K. on Monday said it could no longer wait. As part of its annual budget, it said it was moving ahead with a plan to begin a digital tax for large tech firms by 2020.

The new digital U.K. tax puts pressure on other big countries, including the U.S., to speed up the global effort. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a forum of wealthy countries, has been leading the international digital-tax talks.

Only broadly experienced tax advisory professionals can provide a truly global perspective so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. Talley welcomes the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you and your family. For more information, contact us today.

Do people often refer to you as the “Chief Everything Officer”? You may think single-handedly managing your books, administering your tax burden, and being your own IT professional is saving you money, but is it? If you’re spending more time tackling everyday tasks than you are growing your business, you’re probably spreading yourself too thin and not focusing on growing your company and meeting the needs of your customers.

Are your talents best used bringing in new business, serving and growing your top clientele and improving the quality of the product or service you provide? -Most likely so. Here are some key outsourcing opportunities you may want to consider outsourcing to save you time, money and opportunity cost.

Accounting. Here’s the bad news first: When it comes to ranking the best and worst states to be a taxpayer, California ranks #2 on the list of states with the highest tax burdens, with New Jersey taking the top spot. Outsourcing your accounting not only saves you time, but it can also bring invaluable insights from specialists who’re dialed into the latest practices, strategies, and technologies in their fields.

Banking. Most small business owners are no stranger to the bank. In fact, more than 80% of small business owners use some sort of financing to help grow their business. Finding the right bank and obtaining all the financial reports necessary could prove challenging to a time-strapped entrepreneur. Partnering with the right CPA firm can increase your chances of successfully obtaining loans, grants, lines of credit and more by presenting your financial data in the most favorable way.

Social Media. Not every entrepreneur dreams of becoming the next big social media star to go viral, but the latest numbers don’t lie: 81% of small businesses employ a social media strategy to grow their business.  Keeping up with the latest and greatest social media strategies as well as posting, responding and article linking is a time-consuming process probably best suited for someone who has the time and savvy to tackle this emerging marketing tool.

Leading businesses are partnering with Talley to take advantage of our wide range of services, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, technology advising, tax planning, auditing, and estate planning, all under one roof. Letting go can be hard at first, especially with our hearts and minds deeply invested in our businesses, but it can allow you to focus on what you do best and take back control of your business’ productivity and profitability.

For more information on how Talley can help grow your business, give us a call today.

Great leadership touches every space and process of a growing business, from employee engagement to brand value, operational productivity, and ultimately—profitability. Here are three ways to refine your leadership strategy with perspectives from Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs and Larry Page.
Empower others.  
Successful leaders provide vision, focus and direction for their teams, but they also give their people a voice. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said it this way, “People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is, and how it will be implemented.” And, “They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and authority to act on it.”
While management and leadership are two inextricably linked jobs, it’s been said that the manager relies on control, while the leader inspires trust. By helping people within a company unlock their own talents, leaders can fully benefit from the ideas and abilities of their staff.
Maintain focus as a leader and as a company.
Rather than create an army of mediocre offerings, Steve Jobs made sure Apple was known for creating a few iconic products. He once said, “Focusing is about saying no.” That’s because fixed resources and time dictate that leaders identify and develop areas with the greatest potential for their companies.
Without the right information in front of you, it’s much harder to accurately identify what those areas are for your business. This data is all around you, from profit/loss statements to month-over-month sales trends, changes in the cost of goods sold, changes in your social media following, and much more. Tap into this data to define, reinforce or shift your focus while keeping your company’s core values in mind.
Balance short-term solutions with long-term opportunity.
Google’s Larry Page once said, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” External forces like shifting consumer trends and new technological developments can render a company irrelevant in the marketplace if company leaders don’t pivot in time. Internal forces, can too, based on decision-making. For example, an equipment sale one year might actually increase a company’s tax liabilities over the long haul if the long-term tax effects are not considered.  
No CEO goes it alone; you can be sure these didn’t. Regardless if your company is large or modest, draw on a network of knowledgeable advisors by partnering with Talley. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure, and execute your goals.

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