Changes to Health Care Coverage Reporting on W-2s

As expected, the IRS has extended the deadline surrounding the health care coverage cost reporting on W-2s.  As reported by the Journal of Accountancy, this new reporting requirement which was originally scheduled to be implemented for the 2011 tax year, has been extended.  Employers will not be required to comply until the 2012 tax year.

For more information, visit the Journal of Accountancy article here.

Kelly O’Leary, CPA, MBA, Controller

Share

Protect Your Electronic Data

 

Many of our client law firms as well as the corporate offices of Advocate Capital, Inc. are moving toward “paperless” electronic data storage.   While this practice not only helps conserve our natural resources and streamlines the ability for multiple personnel to access the same data, it is not without its unique challenges.  Here are some quick tips to help protect your confidential electronic data:

 

* When computers are not in use for a specified length of time (10 minutes is recommended), set them to go into screensaver lock mode requiring user password to open.  This way data is not readily available for viewing by unauthorized personnel.

 

* Instruct employees that when they walk away from their office/work station, to activate the password protected screensaver by using Ctrl – Alt – Delete – Enter (Windows operating systems).

 

* Institute mandatory password changes every 30 days for all users.

 

* Instruct employees to never write down passwords.

 

* Instruct employees to never share passwords (unless instructed by a supervisor).

 

* Require that passwords be “security strong” – i.e. that they be at least 6 characters, include both upper & lower case and include a number or symbol.

 

Click here for some additional basic information at the Federal Government’s OnGuard Online publication.

 

And click here for cyber security tips from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).

 

Let’s all stay E-Safe!!!

 

Donna A. Jones

Vice President, Operations

Share

Online Learning — Is Your Team Well-Trained?

At Advocate Capital, Inc., we pride ourselves on having the most well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable staff in the finance industry.  Part of our success is due to good hiring practices.  However, keeping associates properly motivated, educated and trained is an equally important aspect of a strong staff, and is a constant challenge for any small business.  And make no mistake about it; most of our clients are small businesses that happen to be in the business of pursuing justice for their clients.

I have come across a couple of excellent websites that provide free, online skills training and just ideas for thought.

Khan Academy (according to their website), is a “non-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”  The videos presented on this website are amazing both due to the breadth of subject matter covered and the relative simplicity with which they present sometimes complex topics.

Ted.com is a little different.  It is a series of 2-5 minute videos covering a wide-range of topics.  They are not really for training purposes, but more for thought provocation.

While both of these sites offer topics that might not apply directly to business in general, or law practices in particular, they are excellent tools that can be used easily and at little expense to help motivate, educate and train your staff.

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

Share

Keith T. Grumer and Maidenly Macaluso are Victorious in District Court of Appeals of The State of Florida

 

ACI clients and friends Keith Grumer and Maidenly Macaluso of Grumer & Macaluso, P.A. won a recent appeal at the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal.

 

In Shubh Hotels Boca, LLC and Atul Bisaria v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation the Fourth District reviewed a trial court’s order allowing a receiver to sell a hotel. The lender provided a mortgage to the hotel and the hotel allegedly defaulted on the mortgage.

 

Attorneys Grumer and Macaluso were able to overturn a previous judge’s ruling authorizing the sale of the hotel and restored possession to their client.  Congratulations to Grumer & Macaluso, P.A.!

 

Michael J. Swanson, President and Chief Executive Officer



Share

Advocate Capital, Inc. Schedule Notes for Thanksgiving Week

 

For scheduling and planning purposes, please note that Advocate Capital, Inc. will be closed on Thursday & Friday, November 25 & 26 for the Thanksgiving Holiday.   Any payments and/or fundings received in our offices on those days will be processed first thing on Monday, November 29.

 

Everyone here wishes a safe and happy holiday to our all of our wonderful law firm clients, their staffs, and families!

 

Donna A. Jones

Vice President, Operations

Share

W-2 Reporting Requirement Changes

The Health Care Reform Act passed earlier this year changes the information reported to employees on W-2 forms.  Beginning with the 2011 tax year, employers will be required to report the total value of all health insurance coverage paid for by the employer on behalf of the employee and any dependents.  The first W-2 forms that will be affected are those that are issued in early 2012. The reportable amounts include those expenses related to health, dental and vision insurance coverage, however, stand-alone vision and dental plans are excluded.

According to the Health Care Reform Act, this provision is intended to be informational only, and does not affect the taxability of these employer-provided benefits.   Requiring this information to be reported annually provides the IRS with the data necessary to enforce other provisions of the Act such as the requirement of all individuals to carry health insurance.

For more information and additional resources, please click here.

-Kelly O’Leary, CPA, MBA, Controller

Share

Gwilliam Represents Ten Longtime AAA Employees in Age Discrimination Lawsuit

 

ACI client and long time friend J. Gary Gwilliam is working on a very interesting employment discrimination case that has been filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court against the California State Automobile Association (CSAA).  Attorney Gwilliam and his associate Randall E. Strauss held a press conference last week at the downtown Oakland office of their firm, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, to shed light on the case.

 

The lawsuit contends that CSAA is shifting jobs away from California sales agents to minimum wage call centers in Oklahoma and Arizona and has targeted senior, high performing insurance sales agents for termination by cutting their commissions and shifting their clients to be serviced by out of state call centers. 

 

We wish Gary and his team all the best as they pursue justice on their clients’ behalf.

 

More details and quotes can be found by clicking here.  If you have questions about the case, contact:  Gary Gwilliam (ggwilliam@giccb.com), Randall Strauss (rstrauss@giccb.com) or Jayme Burns (jburns@giccb.com) at 510-832-5411.

 

Michael Swanson

Share

Angel Reyes and Luis Bartolomei Named to Super Lawyers List for 2010.

 

Thanks to their fellow Texas attorneys, ACI clients Angel Reyes and Luis Bartolomei were named to the Super Lawyers® list for 2010 through the Texas Monthly Magazine Survey. Only 5% of all attorneys in the state of Texas are chosen for this tremendous honor.

 

The selection process for Super Lawyers is extensive. Peer nomination, evaluations and third party research measure each candidate on 12 indicators of peer recognition and personal achievement.  Three basic steps are involved: creation of the candidate pool, evaluation of candidates by the research department and peer evaluation by practice area. The goal for the Super Lawyers list is to provide a credible, complete and diverse list of outstanding attorneys which consumers may use when searching for legal counsel.  For more information on what qualifies an attorney to be considered a Super Lawyer, please click here.

 

Congratulations to Attorneys Reyes and Bartolomei!  Visit their website at www.ReyesLaw.com and their blog at http://www.angelreyesblog.com/

 

Michael Swanson

Share

Social Networking Issues for Employers

 

As we all wrestle with utilization of social networking sites for potential business purposes, we are going to see a litany of new litigation on a number of fronts.

 

Click here to read about a case in which the NLRB alleges that an employer illegally fired an employee after she made disparaging remarks on her personal Facebook page. 

 

A friendly reminder to us all – keep networking but be mindful of the constantly changing guidelines!

 

Donna A. Jones  Vice President, Operations

Share

BP Litigation as an Image Enhancer for the Trial Bar?

 

The trial bar in America has been working diligently to improve its image over the past few years.  This article from the New York Times Magazine examines how the trial bar can possibly use the public outrage surrounding the recent BP Horizon/Macondo oil well explosion to its advantage.  It also gives a layman a view into how mass tort litigation works.  While not entirely accurate, nor always flattering to the trial bar, the writer gives a very detailed and insightful look into the psychology and strategy of each side of this issue.

 

Paul B. Myers, Chief Credit Officer

Share

Case Expense Financing at a Net Cost of Less Than 1%*

clove panel