Jerry Jones CPA
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a CPA that you deal directly with, that knows the Self Storage business, that works in all 50 states and is there for you when you need him?
Jerry has been our accountant since we started in the self storage business, some 20 years ago. I look to him as more than an accountant, but as a valuable business asset. He is continually suggesting new ways to reduce costs and improve profits. Also, he has developed some unconventional reports that are very helpful in evaluating our business on a day to day basis. I would recommend him to any self storage operator.
Dennis Geiler
SoCal Self Storage, Southern California

How to improve annual performance reviews of your employees

The annual employee performance review — usually it's dreaded by both supervisor and employee. The employee knows he'll have to hear about those mistakes from months ago, and the supervisor will finally have to discuss those issues he's been avoiding all year. Too often, the result is discomfort and embarrassment all round. Usually both parties fudge a little and are glad that it's over for another year. Too bad, because another chance for open communication and feedback has been lost.

Increase the frequency. To improve the process, consider holding performance appraisals more frequently, perhaps even quarterly. This can help make the appraisal less of a "special event" and more of a routine exchange of information. It also means your feedback is more directly related to your employee's recent performance, rather than coming months later.

Of course, even quarterly appraisals don't substitute for immediate feedback. If an employee does something wrong, or something good, tell him or her immediately. Point out the problem, make sure the employee acknowledges it, and make clear what you expect in the future. And if it's something good, the employee will appreciate receiving a pat on the back. With immediate feedback, there should never be any surprises at an appraisal.

Some other tips to improve the process. At the end of every appraisal, summarize the discussion and put the highlights in writing. Make sure your employee gets a copy. Before the next appraisal, ask your employee to review the copy and prepare his thoughts on his most recent performance. Ask him to present his opinions to start the discussion. If there are areas needing improvement, agree on an action plan and put that in writing too. And that might be a two-way street. It could involve you providing training or taking actions to support the employee, so make sure you're living up to the agreement.

Finally, don't limit the appraisal to a scorecard on the employee's achievements. If appropriate, use it to discuss career planning, cross-training, or job enrichment. Solicit ideas from the employee. It can all help turn a judgmental meeting into a constructive exchange of ideas.

New Business: Delayed tax filing affects farmers and fishermen

If your business is farming or fishing, you have until April 15, instead of March 1, to file your 2012 tax return and pay any tax due for 2012.

Farmers and fishermen normally must file and pay by March 1 if they didn't make quarterly estimated tax payments during the previous year. Because a new tax law was signed on January 2, 2013, the IRS is still reprogramming and testing its computers to handle the rule changes. The agency has delayed the start date for processing tax returns using certain forms, several of which are generally used by farmers and fishermen.

Farmers and fishermen who file and pay by April 15, 2013, will not be subject to penalties for missing the March 1 deadline. To qualify as a farmer or fisherman, at least two-thirds of the taxpayer's total income must have come from farming or fishing in either 2012 or 2011. The relief applies to all farmers and fishermen, whether 

Inflation changes several tax numbers for 2013

The IRS and the Social Security Administration have published some inflation-adjusted numbers for 2013. Use these numbers as you begin your tax and financial planning this year.

• The social security taxable wage limit for 2013 will be $113,700. Retirees under full retirement age can earn up to $15,120 without losing benefits.

• The threshold for unearned income a child can earn in 2013 without having the kiddie tax apply is $2,000.

• The amount that can be given this year (per recipient) without paying gift tax is $14,000 ($28,000 for joint gifts).

• The amount that can be set aside in a health savings account is limited to $3,250 for individuals and $6,450 for families. Those 55 or older can contribute an additional $1,000.

• The maximum salary deferral for a 401(k) increases in 2013 to $17,500. The catch-up limit for those 50 or older remains unchanged at $5,500.

• The maximum IRA contribution limit increases to $5,500; the limit for those 50 or older is $6,500.

• The maximum salary deferral for SIMPLEs increases in 2013 to $12,000. The catch-up limit for those 50 or older remains unchanged at $2,500.

• The standard mileage rate for business driving increases to 56.5¢ a mile. The rate for medical and moving mileage increases to 24¢ a mile, and the rate for charitable driving remains at 14¢ a mile.

• The nanny tax threshold remains at $1,800.

• The alternative minimum tax exemption amount for 2013 is $51,900 for singles and $80,800 for couples filing a joint return.

• The amount exempt from estate tax for deaths occurring in 2013 is $5,250,000.

• The personal exemption for 2013 is $3,900. This year the exemption phases out for those with adjusted gross income over $250,000 (single) and $300,000 (couples).

• The standard deduction for 2013 is increased to $6,100 for singles, $8,950 for heads of household, and $12,200 for couples filing joint returns.

Contact our office if you have questions or wish to discuss early 2013 tax planning.

What's New: IRS delays start to the 1040 filing season

The delayed passage of the American Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012 has put the IRS behind schedule. Due to several provisions of the law affecting 2012 tax returns, the IRS could not open the Form 1040 filing season for the majority of taxpayers until late January.

Those taxpayers filing Form 5695 (Energy Credit), Form 4562 (Depreciation), and Form 3800 (General Business Credit) will not be able to file until late February or possibly not until March. Apparently a large percentage of taxpayers in this group typically file later in the season because they have more complex returns.

The IRS must complete the updating of forms and computer programming and testing before it is ready to accept any filings either on paper or electronically. The IRS said that taxpayers will receive refunds faster by e-filing and using direct deposit.

If we can be of assistance to you in preparing any of your 2012 tax filings, please contact us.

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