While the deadline to buy health insurance on the Marketplace for 2016 has passed, people can still get coverage during other times of the year during a special enrollment period under certain circumstances, one of which being moving. Here’s what you need to know to determine if your move triggers a special enrollment period.
Moving to another state is one of the most common reasons cited for a special enrollment period to sign up for or switch health insurance plans. But the residency requirements for a “permanent move” special enrollment period recently changed on the Marketplace:
To apply for a special enrollment period, visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s online Health Insurance Marketplace. Or, if you have moved for a new job, make sure you look into your employer’s coverage options when you start. www.VirtualBookkeepersUSA.com - 850-725-5696
Taxpayers who receive the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) from the Marketplace must file a tax return to reconcile the credit. Failure to file a 2014 return and reconcile the credit will result in a loss of APTC payments in 2016.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) has announced a Special Enrollment Period for individuals who:
Taxpayers should see little, if any, impact on their tax returns or refunds," the agency said. "We apologize for the inconvenience this caused."
The IRS has said it still expects to issue 9 out 10 refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax filer's return.
With tax filing season in full swing, the technical breakdown came at an inopportune time.
Related: 7 steps to avoid becoming a tax scam victim
People who filed just before or during the outage don't need to do anything, the IRS said. E-file providers, such as H&R Block and TurboTax, held the returns they received during the outage, and have now started sending those tax returns into the IRS, the agency noted.
Statistics on how many people have filed already aren't available. But at this time last year, roughly 27 million filers' returns had been processed -- and almost of all them had been e-filed. And more than 19.5 million of those filers were due refunds, averaging $3,366.
Taxes are due this year on April 18.
The IRS did not elaborate on what caused the outage, saying that is was "continuing to examine the underlying cause ... as well as monitoring any follow-up issues." It still believes a "hardware failure" occurred.
The agency's systems aren't exactly at the cutting edge of technology. Thanks to persistent budget cuts, the agency's efforts to modernize its technologies have been held up, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a Senate panel in February 2015.
Related: IRS customer service could soon get a lot worse
"We're running applications we were running when John F. Kennedy was president," Koskinen told lawmakers.
He also said some IRS systems still use the COBOL programming language, which Computer Worldonce described as "a programming dinosaur that was last hot in the 1980s."
When one senator asked how the agency could still be using such old systems when it spends over $2 billion a year on technology operations, Koskinen explained that the money has been going into upgrading its systems, which were customized for the IRS in the 1950s and 1960s.
Besides the time you’ll get back by not doing accounting yourself or the resources your company will save by dodging another costly hire, here are the key ways outsourcing your accounting gives you a major advantage as you scale:
You’ll need to be decisive about spending... During periods of growth you’re going to spend money like crazy to survive, and you will have to constantly decide what to prioritize. Without the solid financial insights to guide you, your decisions will be based on feelings and assumptions rather than facts. Dangerous.
...Luckily, outsourced accounting gives you access to that guidance. What they couldn’t emphasize enough was the value they found from having the collective wisdom of an entire team of accounting experts on their side.
Experienced accountants have seen many businesses grow and scale. This means they can provide comparative and critical analysis and are familiar with what you should prepare for, how to make smarter spending choices, and which financing solutions will be the best fit for your business model.
It’s time to show outsiders (aka investors) they can depend on you: Even the wealthiest financiers are going to feel vulnerable when they invest in your company. At this point you may have shown your potential, which may be enough for them to believe in your idea. But they’ll still want to see you’re thinking ahead, anticipating obstacles that could stand in the way of your success and getting them a solid return.
This is why it is absolutely critical to plan, justify, and budget for each and every expense instead of spending reactively. And whether it’s hiring employees, sourcing vendors, or picking equipment, think at least six to twelve months ahead at all times and listening to experienced outside opinions.
Objective accounting keeps you honest inside and out: A great outsourced accountant understands the weight and longevity of your decisions. They aren’t going to let you go down a path without being realistic and reflective about your company’s performance. Just like you can’t bullshit your investors with vanity numbers, a good outsourced accountant will be there to help you evaluate and critique your strategy’s performance and advise on smart tweaks to make along the way.
Someone with outside perspective is also going to be able to flag things that are out of place, especially when it comes to your spending habits.
Remember: Being receptive to feedback is key for keeping your business focussed in the right direction.
If you think investors are the only ones who are going to care about this, you’re wrong. Your customers are also deeply invested in your financial know-how and will feel more enthusiastic about using your product or service if they know they can depend on you.
A personal fortune teller or crystal ball: If starting a business was predictable, everybody would be an entrepreneur. But every business is going to be a unique adventure, which unfortunately makes it virtually impossible to create the comprehensive guide to scaling safely. One thing that’s certain: If you’re inexperienced, your fiscal obligations and tax responsibilities will seem to appear out of nowhere.
An outsourced controller or CPA can anticipate your roadblocks and opportunities: With all that experience under their belts, they’ll seem to have an uncanny ability to predict potential issues you may have never even heard of or would be likely to overlook. This includes being one step ahead of your investor's potential questions and arming you with the information they’ll need to invest in you.
When it comes to planning ahead for the future, an outsourced accountant will know how to prepare for the things that no one can see coming. This is where their natural ability to “trim the fat” comes into play. Their critical eye will be looking for ways to keep costs down to what is absolutely essential. If you’re anything like our owner, you’ll see there’s a lot of power in being a frugal business owner and an outsourced accountant can help you see that light.
850-725-5696 or visit www.VirtualBookkeepersUSA.com
How many social media channels do you have set up for your small business? Do you use them all? How often do you blog – and what do you blog about?
Depending on how you answer the above questions, you may be making some of the most common – and damaging – digital marketing mistakes out there. Why are they so damaging? In one word: consistency. Consistency is the lifeblood of any marketing-related project. If you constantly start and stop stuff, that leads to trust and competency issues, and that just won’t do.
1. You don’t have a marketing strategy
This is by far the biggest mistake small businesses make! As a result, a lot of small businesses suffer from a feast-or-famine approach to digital marketing. You might start a lot of projects and programs all at once, but then you get overwhelmed and there’s little to no follow-up. And then you’re back at square one while your audience wonders what happened to you.
The fix: You need to put a marketing strategy in place that works for your business and your goals. Easier said than done, but this step is not optional!
2. You try to use every marketing channel out there
And there are a lot of marketing channels to choose form: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, blogging, podcasting, email marketing, direct mail, webinars, speaking engagements, conferences and trade show – the list goes on.
The fix: It’s a myth that you need a lot of channels, so think carefully about what will work for you. If you can manage a quarterly newsletter and one post on LinkedIn per day, that’s perfectly fine. Be sure to commit to the channels you choose and use a consistent approach.
3. You fail to measure your ROI
Marketing is an investment in your business. It takes time and costs money, and it absolutely should provide a return. If you just keep doing something and have no idea whether or not it’s working for you, you’re throwing money out the window.
The fix: Set aside time to review analytics once a month. You want to look at the channels, the content, and the engagement, and then you want to look at quarter-over-quarter revenue. Is it increasing or decreasing? That will give an idea of whether or not you’re seeing an ROI.
4. You listen to everybody
There are a lot of small business owners who listen to everybody. Either you’re jumping in different directions because someone told you to, or you ask everyone to look at what you’re working on, or you’re trying to please everyone.
No matter what, each of the above scenarios leads to the same result: You end up diluting your message and spending more money because it’ll take longer and you’ll lose sight of your goals.
The fix: Stick to your marketing strategy, and do what is right for your target market and clients.
5. You don’t give a program a chance to work
Marketing takes time to work, but many people don’t give a program a chance to work before they’re on to the next thing. You can’t keep changing your mind. No program works overnight. You have to commit to it.
The fix: Commit at least six months to each marketing program you start, and then re-evaluate whether or not it’s working for you at the six-month mark.
6. Your emails are not consistent with your brand
Are you doing your own email marketing? Good for you! But does it look professional and consistent with your brand?
There is a lot of email floating out there in which formatting is just bad – weird tabs, weird colors, too many fonts, nothing lined up – making the email unreadable. Then there are emails that are VERY long, but contain nary a call-to-action. By making these mistakes, you end up missing opportunities to convert someone into a lead or a client.
The fix: Hire a designer who can create custom templates for your email marketing. It’s a one-time cost, and it’s totally worth it.
7. Your blog posts are all “me” all the time
Don’t confuse your blog with a news page! It is truly great that you are winning awards, sponsoring events, and launching some outstanding projects, but those accolades are not blog materials. They’re company news, and they belong on a company news page.
The fix: Before you write a blog post, ask, “Will my ideal client find this information useful? Will it improve their lives? Is it about them, or is it about me?”
Mike McVay, Tax Accountant Blog
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor & Licensed Tax Accountant Pensacola, FL
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