Zinner & Co. was honored to receive two awards from an elite panel of judges at the 2013 Smart Business World Class Customer Service Awards, held June 6 at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven.
The World Class Customer Service Awards serve to raise awareness of the importance of customer service in the business world, recognize organizations that demonstrate exceptional customer service and share best practices in customer service from those that do it the best.
For the second year in a row Zinner & Co. was among the 25 Northeast Ohio companies recognized for a commitment to delivering top-notch customer service. Based off interviews conducted at a VIP reception in April, we were also selected as one of the top “Best in Class” winners this year, garnering us our second award of the night.
Zinner & Co. stands out from the competition due to making “the platinum rule” – do unto others as they want you to do unto them – a mandatory part of our company’s testing and training in our new employee orientation process. We train employees on how to alter their personal communication methods to adapt to how the client wants to be communicated to or is accustomed to being communicated with. We also set firm-wide SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Timely) designed to help increase customer service satisfaction with clients.
Zinner & Co. would like to congratulate our good friends at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission for also being recognized for their superior customer service and “Best in Class” designation.
On hand to collect our firm’s two awards were Partners Gabe Adler, Robin Baum, Howard Kass and Susan Krantz and Firm Administrator Matt Aloisi. We look forward to continuing our practice of superior customer service for the next 75 years to come!
There was finally a break in the clouds this past Sunday, just in time for the annual Race for the Place 5K. Several members of the Zinner & Co. family participated.
Zinner & Co. has been a proud sponsor of the event, held at Beachwood Mall to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day, for many years as it supports our good friends at The Gathering Place. Started in 2000 as a nonprofit cancer support center in the greater Cleveland community, The Gathering Place focuses on the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of cancer patients and their families. The Gathering Place offers free education centers, support groups, exercise and nutrition classes to individuals and families touched by cancer. During times of pure despair and fear, The Gathering Place has been a sanctuary for over 21,500 individuals since its inception.
The Race for the Place always brings in a large crowd, but this year was bigger than ever with over 4,200 registered participants who raised $350,000 for the cause! Team Zinner included Gabe Adler (with wife, Nikki), Robin Baum, Howard Kass (with wife, Cindy) Sue Krantz (with husband, Jonathan, and children Adam and Rachel), Matt Aloisi, Laura Haines, Patti Puterbaugh and Spike Radway, who ended up finishing in the top 20 for his age division.
Posted by: Sue Krantz, CPA
As an advocate and member of the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Association, I am so excited that Zinner & Co. will once again be supporting Purple Day, the Global Day of Epilepsy Awareness held annually on March 26th.
More than 3 million Americans, including 55,000 Northeast Ohioans, have some form of epilepsy. Epilepsy affects more people than Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy combined. Of the major chronic medical conditions, epilepsy is among the least understood even though 1 in 3 adults knows someone with the disorder.
Purple Day was conceived by a young girl, Cassidy Megan, in Nova Scotia, Canada as Global Epilepsy Awareness Day. The name 'Purple Day' was chosen after the international color for epilepsy: lavender. The lavender flower is associated with solitude, which is representative of the feelings of isolation many people affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders often feel. The Purple Day goal is for people with epilepsy everywhere to know they are not alone and to increase the public's awareness of epilepsy. Purple Day is now celebrated on every continent in the world, including Antarctica. Our own Terminal Tower will be lit up in purple on March 26th.
So how can you get involved and create awareness of epilepsy?
- Wear purple to work or school on March 26th, and ask others to wear purple too.
- Tweet this message or change your Facebook status to read: "On March 26, I'm wearing PURPLE to support EPILEPSY AWARENESS. Help spread the word!"
- Tell the Epilepsy Association how you are supporting Purple Day by using social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and the agency's blog at www.epilepsyinfo.org.
- Visit the epilepsy awareness booth at the SouthPark Mall in Strongsville on March 23rd and 24th or at the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor on March 26th.
- Join the Epilepsy Association at their annual Purple Day Party Fundraiser. Meet up with other Cleveland-area epilepsy supporters at PJ McIntyre's Irish Pub, located at 17119 Lorain Ave., from 5:30-7:30 pm for happy hour. Tickets are $25 and include appetizers and 2 drinks. Purchase your pre-sale tickets here.
The Zinner & Co. staff all dressed to celebrate this year's Purple Day!
Posted by: Sue Krantz, CPA
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is dedicated to serving survivors of sexual violence and those who support them with free comprehensive healing and advocacy services, and to creating social change in the community through education, training, and activism.
I am honored to be a member of the Center’s Board of Directors and proud that Zinner & Co. is a sponsor of the Faces of Change Luncheon to benefit the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. The luncheon is a community event that raises awareness about sexual assault and financial support for Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. The all-star Sing Out! Chorale will also give a preview of Sing Out! 2014.
This amazing event will be held on April 15, 2013 from 12:00-1:30 pm at The Renaissance Hotel Cleveland. For ticket information, you can go to the Center’s website at www.clevelandrapecrisis.org. Please consider joining us for this spectacular program!
Posted by: Sue Krantz, CPA
As the Cleveland, Ohio member of the National Association of Nonprofit Accountants and Consultants (NPAC) through the Rainmaker Alliances, I recently had the opportunity to attend a member fly-in at the Rainmaker Alliances office in Nashville, Tennessee.
The purpose of the fly-in was to give NPAC members the opportunity to go deeper and connect with fellow members about the current needs, struggles and successes of those working in and with the not-for-profit industry. I was able to share ideas with the best and brightest CPAs and business advisors in the industry, all of which spend a significant amount of time working with not-for-profit organizations.
As members, we cooperatively exchange business development practices and technical knowledge to benefit our clients and practice groups. Zinner & Co. was selected to become a member of NPAC based on our superior service to the not-for-profit industry. NPAC is a nationwide affiliation of independently owned accounting firms committed to delivering exceptional financial and consulting services to nonprofit organizations.
Posted by: Colleen Kaminsky, CPA
Both employees and self-employed business owners are very familiar with the Medicare tax. They certainly should be, since it has been in effect since 1966. Congress modified the tax in 1986, imposing a 1.45% Medicare tax rate on wages, for both employees and employers. That change affected self-employed folks too. Beginning January 1, 2013, a couple of additional changes took effect, which could impact you.
First, for individuals earning more than $200,000, and for couples filing jointly earning more than $250,000, the Medicare tax rate has increased by 0.9% on wages exceeding those thresholds. For employees earning more than these amounts, their total Medicare tax rate will be 2.35% for the portion of their wages exceeding those thresholds; however, the employer rate will remain capped at 1.45%. Self-employed individuals meeting the thresholds will also be subject to the additional tax.
But that's not all that's changing! Historically, Medicare taxes have only been assessed against wages. Beginning on January 1, 2013, for the first time Medicare tax is being assessed on unearned investment income. Investment income includes: interest, dividends, capital gains, rental income, royalty income and passive activity business income. For individual filers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000, and for couples filing jointly with an MAGI in excess of $250,000, net investment income exceeding those thresholds is subject to a 3.8% Medicare tax. This tax was part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act and is projected to bring in an estimated $210 billion of additional revenue.
Are there any opportunities to effectively plan one's tax and financial life to reduce exposure to either of these new Medicare taxes? In many cases, there are such opportunities, but identifying those opportunities and taking advantage of them will require some proactive and creative planning.
If you would like to understand how the new taxes affect you and to explore any planning opportunities, please contact a Zinner professional to review your personal circumstances.
Posted by: Robert O'Neil
Recent proposals to change the current municipal tax structure in Ohio are being considered in an attempt to help business growth in Ohio.
With Ohio having the second most taxing jurisdictions in the U.S., it is difficult for many taxpayers to keep up with the different rules in each municipality. The proposed bill would allow the different municipalities to determine their own taxing rate, credits, and collection methods. However, the proposed legislation would make some rules uniform for all municipalities.
The major changes included in the proposal are:
- Mandating a net operating loss carryforward of five years
- Create equal treatment of pass-through entities (S-corps & Partnerships)
- Provide uniform definitions of income and deductible expenses
- Increase the exclusion period that a nonresident employee may work in a municipality before that jurisdiction's tax must be withheld from his or her wages from 12 to 20 days
- Synchronize municipal tax definitions with many state definitions, including the definition of a resident vs. nonresident
Of course, none of this has been finalized just yet, but this bill or something similar may be completed in the near future.
Posted by: Colleen Kaminsky, CPA
One question we frequently hear is when one should begin drawing on their Social Security benefits. Although one attains full retirement under Social Security somewhere around age 66 or 67, depending on one's date of birth, workers are entitled to begin taking social security retirements as early as age 62, Be aware, though, that there are several things to consider before you apply:
- If you choose to receive benefits as soon as you are first eligible, your full benefit will be permanently reduced for each month benefits are received before reaching full retirement age (mentioned above).
- If, on the other hand, you defer your social security benefits until after you reach full retirement age, your full benefits will increase. There is, however, no advantage to deferring one's benefit beyond age 70.
The calculation for determining your actual benefits is quite complex and is based on a myriad of factors. For instance, the biggest factor may be your life expectancy. Other things to consider are the length of your retirement period, the impact of inflation, the effect taking benefits will have on your spouse and whether you will choose to continue earning wages beyond the age of 62.
There are several strategies that can be implemented to help you maximize your full retirement benefits, given your unique personal situation. When you should start receiving social security benefits is a big decision, and it is one that deserves a hard look.
For assistance with determining when taking social security is right for YOU, please contact a Zinner professional with the knowledge, resources and experiences needed to make the right choice.
Posted by: Barbara Theofilos, CPA
Are severance payments subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes? A simple "yes" or "no" answer would be too simple. The answer to this question depends upon who you ask.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that severance payments made to terminated employees from Quality Stores are not subject to Social Security and Medicare, also known as FICA taxes. This determination was made in September 2012 and contradicts the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals' conclusion arrived at in 2008 for CSX Corp.
The Sixth Circuit ultimately determined that these payments are not considered wages if they meet the criteria of "supplemental unemployment benefits." These payments must meet all of the following criteria:
1.) Paid to an employee
2.) Pursuant to the employer's plan
3.) Due to the recipient employee's involuntary separation from employment
4.) Directly due to a reduction in force, discontinuance of a plant or operation, or other similar conditions
5.) Included in the recipient employee's gross income
On the other hand, the Federal Circuit of Appeals had the exact opposite opinion when they concluded that "supplemental unemployment benefits" following the same criteria listed above actually are considered wages and therefore subject to FICA taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service has consistently taken the same stance as the Federal Circuit of Appeals that the severance payments are considered wages. According to the IRS, the only situation in which these payments are not subject to FICA taxes is when the payments are linked to state unemployment compensation benefits.
While this issue is still being resolved, Quality Stores and their employees have the ability to enjoy the benefits of not paying the additional FICA taxes on the future severance payments. Both the employer and employees are also allowed to request refunds for any FICA taxes that were paid in previous years. The IRS will likely hold onto those refunds until a final decision is made by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the employers and employees of Quality Stores will continue to reap the benefits of avoiding the additional FICA taxes on their future severance payments.
See Zinner & Co. spread the holiday cheer at the 10th Annual Rainbow Radiothon, with proceeds from the event to support UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital:
The Rainbow Radiothon was December 7, but it is not too late to support this great cause.
Learn how you can make a difference.