Yasmine Misuraca joins REM as Partner-in-Charge of Forensic and Dispute Advisory

Misuraca-Yasmine.jpg

Prominent New York metropolitan area accounting and consulting firm Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP (REM) is pleased to announce that Yasmine L. Misuraca, CPA, CFE has joined the firm as the Partner-in-Charge of its Forensic and Dispute Advisory practice. Ms. Misuraca has over 20 years of public and industry accounting experience and specializes in forensic accounting. Ms. Misuraca’s track record includes testifying on a large, high-profile case for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as working as a consultant for major law firms and privately-held companies. She will be located in the firm’s headquarters in New York City.

“Ms. Misuraca will focus on the growth of our firm’s forensic accounting practice,” REM’s Managing Partner Ellis Ende said. “Calculating and analyzing economic damages, conducting fraud investigations and forensic examinations, and analyzing financial issues as part of case strategy are what many attorneys, government agencies, and private clientele need from accountants. We are thrilled to have Ms. Misuraca on board at Raich Ende, and look forward to leveraging her expertise in this practice area.”

I’m excited to lead the Forensic and Dispute Advisory group,” Ms. Misuraca said. “Due to an increase in cases involving asset misappropriation, financial statement misrepresentation, and securities and regulatory compliance violations, our focus at REM will be to provide clients with the analysis and support needed to achieve positive dispute resolutions, as well as advising clients on how to take preemptive steps to protect their assets.”

Tax alert: Late filing relief for portability

Viceconte_Roberto.jpg

Contributed by Roberto Viceconte, CPA, JD, LLM

Under current law, portability allows the unused lifetime exemption of a deceased spouse to be transferred to a surviving spouse. In the instance when an estate tax return is required and timely filed, the portability election is fairly simple. In instances when a federal estate tax return is not required, the portability election can sometimes slip through the cracks.

The IRS recently released Revenue Procedure 2017-34, giving surviving spouses of estates additional time to file for portability after the death of their spouse. Previously, a surviving spouse had until the estate tax filing deadline plus extension to file for portability. That provided a window of only 15 months to elect portability (a 9-month due date plus a 6-month extension). This applied even to estates under the filing threshold of $5 million in 2011, increasing each year to the current $5.49 million. Those estates that had no estate tax filing requirement might easily have missed the deadline to file if the only reason for filing was to secure portability. The only option for a missed election in that narrow window of time was to request relief via a private letter ruling, which was a costly and time consuming option.

Under the new Revenue Procedure, surviving spouses may now file a late portability election up to January 2, 2018 for any death occurring after 2011. Also under the new rules, a surviving spouse has until the later of January 2, 2018 or two years after the death of the spouse to file for portability.

This new Revenue Procedure allows clients and practitioners another bite of the apple to correct any missed elections and to use the additional lifetime exemption granted under portability to create opportunities for estate planning or to enhance existing planning.

To determine what opportunities might be available, consult your trusted tax professional.

REM donates backpacks, school supplies to displaced youths

 
Joan Cardona
 

Forty-two homeless New York City youths are starting school this week with all-new backpacks and supplies, courtesy of Raich Ende Malter’s charitable/volunteer committee, REM-Co Cares.

Patrycja Leszczynski tries a backpack on for size.

Patrycja Leszczynski tries a backpack on for size.

REM-Co Cares received word about the “Project: Back to School” drive through an email from Coalition for the Homeless, a not-for-profit focused on providing food, clothing, shelter, and many other services to the homeless. While the deadline was closer than expected (less than two weeks until school started!), REM employees jumped on board and immediately began gathering supplies and donations. Suzanne Anderson and Joan Cardona of REM’s Broadway office asked Coalition for the Homeless to extend the deadline slightly, and not only were they happy to oblige, they volunteered to visit the Broadway office to pick up the supplies.

Amanda Rinaldo and Mike Meilak fill backpacks.

Amanda Rinaldo and Mike Meilak fill backpacks.

All three REM offices contributed to the effort, with employees purchasing supplies themselves or making monetary donations to help purchase supplies and backpacks in bulk. Even REM’s office suppliers, Weeks Lerman and Huntington Business Products Centre, donated some items after Managing Partner Ellis Ende suggested the idea. All supplies gathered in Long Island and New Jersey were shipped to New York City. On the day of collection, Joan began preparing backpacks, which were divided by grade level. Throughout the day, REM employees helped fill backpacks with school supplies, ranging from calculators to pencils and crayons to notebooks and binders. Ultimately, 42 were completed – 16 for early year students, 8 for elementary schoolers, 9 for middle schoolers, and 9 for high schoolers. In addition, REM stuffed another four boxes with extra school supplies.

For such a time crunch, REM did a fantastic job for a great cause. Sherry Conk, a bookkeeper in the Long Island office, especially enjoyed putting together supplies: “As a mother of two children, the youngest being a senior in high school, I miss going to the store and picking out school supplies like crayons and coloring books. This was a way to relive that and help out children who have trouble getting everything they need for a new school year.”

On September 5, Coalition for the Homeless picked up the completed backpacks and supply boxes from REM’s New York City office. The Coalition is distributing the backpacks and supplies this week to children in need in New York City.

Suzanne, Joan, and Sherry are on board to continue collecting school supplies for next year (hopefully on a less rushed schedule). Joan even plans to bake cookies to serve while employees stuff backpacks. Thank you to all who donated to Project: Back to School. You helped make a difficult time a little easier for these kids.

REM ranked in top 100 accounting firms

 
2017_IPA-100_Web-1.png
 

Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP is pleased to announce our ranking among the top 100 accounting firms in America, according to INSIDE Public Accounting. The firm has maintained a strong presence on IPA lists for the better part of a decade.

The ranking is based on IPA's Survey and Analysis of Firms. Well over 500 accounting firms participate in this annual survey, providing in-depth financial and operational data to be compiled into the annual firm rankings released by IPA during August of every year. The IPA Top 100 is widely considered the gold standard for growth and profitability metrics within the accounting profession.

As always, our inclusion here is a source of pride, and we look forward to 2018.

Move over, Magellan -- Michelle Greco is the new traveler in town

What's the longest road trip you've ever taken? A day? A week? Staff tax accountant Michelle Greco (Long Island) probably has you beat, having completed a two-month drive around the contiguous United States.

After graduating from college and passing her CPA exams, Michelle had six months to live it big before entering the accounting workforce. What to do? She and her college roommate wanted to take a journey together. After some deliberation, the two reached a final verdict – a two month road trip around the entire United States (complete with some special appearances in Canada). The two concocted a tight schedule accompanied by a detailed Excel spreadsheet (accountants...), they hit the road in Michelle’s leased Honda Civic.

Michelle in Antelope Canyon.

From New York, they drove to Ohio, then to Louisiana, meeting up with several other college friends who came along for portions of the ride. In Texas, they ate barbecue and Michelle caught herself learning to line dance. (If you’re observant, you might catch her practicing in her cubicle.) Then, into the Southwest they went, stopping at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as well as the Arches National Park and Zion Canyon in Utah. Zion was a fan favorite, with its deep valleys, rushing waterfalls, and lush foliage growing from the bright red sandstone cliffs.

Onward to California, where Michelle stopped in Hollywood and San Diego. She attended rooftop concerts, ate spectacular Korean barbecue, and even ran around the San Diego Zoo for free. The free zoo visit was in fact a 25-minute crash course through the park while Michelle and her friends were supposed to only be browsing the gift shop. Northern California presented Yosemite National Park, which was ...nice… according to Michelle. (Zion had set the bar rather high.) At the national parks, Michelle and her friends opted to stay at campsites rather than hotels – the college grads were on a tight budget. To keep with the trend, breakfast consisted of granola bars, and dinner was usually hot dogs cooked on a portable grill.

 

Michelle and friends at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

 

They drove up through Portland, Oregon to Seattle, where misfortune struck (literally). A truck crashed into her Civic, totaling the car. Everyone was okay except Michelle's insurance company. It took several heated conversations with the insurer, before Michelle managed to get back on the road -- with a new rental car and no liability for the destroyed Honda.

They traveled on to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, where Michelle spotted hundreds of bison and glimpsed a pack of wolves on the hunt under the sunrise. In Chicago, she tried deep dish pizza, which was of course vastly inferior to a good ol’ New York slice. They wrapped up with a few days in Toronto and Montreal and then, after two jam-packed months, Michelle was back in New York and ready to take on the accounting world.

Michelle isn’t done. She’s vowed to go somewhere new every year, and has since visited Paris and the Canadian Rockies. Her next destination is Spain. Travel is a passion for her, and a necessity. As a high-octane accountant, Michelle feels it’s very important to “relax, go somewhere new, breathe, and enjoy the sunlight.”

 

Michelle feels it’s very important to “relax, go somewhere new, breathe, and enjoy the sunlight.” At the Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, in Arizona.

 

The Young Man and the Sea: Shane Mason’s voyage across the Atlantic

Shane Mason’s path from his hometown in Mississippi to the offices of REM was circuitous. And wet. Very wet.

Shane was born in Mississippi, where he attended college and got his CPA. He worked for PwC for three years in Austin, Texas before a family member fell ill, calling him back home to Mississippi. Craving adventure after too many days in a hospital, Shane decided to hit the road. This particular road took him to Europe, where he toured with a band in several western European countries, working the merch table and seeing the sights.

Shane's home for several weeks.

In 2013, Shane made a decision. He planned to return to the U.S., but he wanted to get back on his own terms—and cheaply. Using a website called Crew Seekers (kind of like Craigslist for sailors), Shane looked for work on a boat that would take him on as crew and ultimately land him home. He had little experience at sea (to be fair, few certified public accountants do), so the job search took a while. Around 70 applications later, Shane was finally offered a position on a crew crossing the Atlantic into Boston. Shane leaped at the opportunity and traveled to La Rochelle, France, where the crew was assembling at the sailing vessel, a catamaran.

The mission: deliver the catamaran to Boston in as little time as possible. On board were a British captain, a Welsh crewmember, the catamaran’s new owner… and Shane, the newbie deckhand.

The voyage got off to a rocky start. The catamaran’s rudders broke in the Bay of Biscay, forcing the crew to call the Spanish coast guard for help and dock for a temporary fix at Burela, a coastal town in Basque country. From there, they detoured to Lisbon for full repairs. These repairs took several days, and Shane and his crewmates were able to land and enjoy a week-long sardine festival in the Portuguese capital.

 

The crew relaxes ashore in Lisbon, Portugal. Shane is on the far right, in the festive purple garment.

 

After the rudders were restored to working order, they sailed to the Azores, an island chain off the coast of Portugal. There, the boat’s owner decided to abandon the journey and travel to Boston by plane. (He was not made to walk the gangplank.) Complicating matters further, the U.S. Embassy on the Azores was unexpectedly closed. This was a problem, because the Welsh crewman needed to obtain a visa before entering the United States. The captain had little choice but to alter course. Their new destination was Newfoundland, Canada, roughly a thousand miles northeast of Boston.

 

Video and still photos of the voyage.

 

The voyage from the Azores to Newfoundland took three weeks. Out at sea, Shane marveled at the sharks that circled around the boat when the water was still, watched for icebergs, and sailed north of the resting place of the Titanic. After dark, Shane witnessed the clearest night skies possible. Pods of dolphins stirred up bioluminescent plankton that lit up the nighttime sea. It was an experience like no other.

After delivering the Welshman to Canada, Shane and the captain were the only remaining members of the crew for the final leg south to Boston. The schedule was grueling—because someone had to be on watch around the clock, they worked in three-hour shifts, alternating between the wheel and the bunks.

In the end, Boston welcomed Shane. The boat’s owner hosted him upon arrival, and fed him a full lobster dinner. (Because what you really want after spending a month at sea is seafood, right?) Shane traveled on to visit friends in New York City, who convinced him to weigh anchor. Shane was offered a job as an accountant, and he ended up here at REM.

The sea still calls to Shane. He recently received his certification to buy a boat, and by next summer, he plans to hit the open waters again, this time on ocean vessel of his own.

REM in the News

An article by REM partner Elaine Fazzari appears in the most recent issue of New Jersey Business Magazine. Her article explains the benefits of using a combination of retirement plans, rather than a "one size fits all" approach. Companies may take advantage of significant tax savings while adding substantially to the owners' and employees' retirement funds.

Elaine is Partner-in-Charge of REM's Audit and Accounting practice, as well as the leader of our Employee Benefit Plan team.

Starring Wendy Strauss as Herself

Daryl Wendy Strauss (left).

The red carpet leads to REM’s NYC reception desk, where Wendy Strauss is a star. Wendy caught the acting bug when she was a teenager living in Tyler, Texas. A breakthrough role as Juliet at Tyler Junior College got the wheels turning, and before long, Wendy moved to New York to pursue acting seriously. At first, Wendy took roles in soap operas and commercials shot around the Big Apple. After meeting her husband, however, the couple changed gears and flew out to Los Angeles. Wendy picked up recurring roles on television staples such as "Days of Our Lives" and "Divorce Court." She even co-starred as Bunny in a direct-to-DVD film titled Bad Channels (Wendy claims that unfortunately, the movie’s quality is hinted at in its title).

After the birth of her son, Wendy moved back to New York, and with the help of her family, she opened the Homegrown Theatre in uptown Manhattan. The small venue sat 99 people and showcased student actors. Wendy acted, produced, and served as the company’s treasurer and secretary. During its life, the company produced the plays of Leonard Melfi, Clifford Odets, Sam Shepherd, Edward Allan Baker and many original pieces. 

Unfortunately, Homegrown had to draw its final curtain when its landlord sold the building. Undeterred, Wendy continued to act in student films for Columbia University’s film department, and picked up a receptionist job for REM in our Broadway offices.

Recently, Wendy performed in an Off-Off Broadway play that may be in the works for a film. Though she doesn’t act quite as frequently, she spends her time writing (She had a story featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul!) and experimenting with photography. Her proudest recent role: founding an annual giving project called Mom’s Christmas Stocking, in which she helps fill over 200 Christmas stockings for women and children in need in New York City. Her website

So keep following the headlines. Wendy is still a member of the Screen Actors Guild and is a firm believer of keeping the dreams alive!

Ivy League Player of the Year

Alex Barnett dunks.

Alex Barnett dunks.

Class valedictorian. Ivy League graduate and Player of the Year. Pro basketball player in France and Finland. Proofreader extraordinaire. REM’s Melville office has its own former pro athlete—Alexander Barnett.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Alex was motivated (and badgered) by his older brother into the world of athletics. Though he started in baseball, Alex found himself craving more energy and excitement. In the fourth grade, he discovered what he needed: basketball. By middle school, Alex was playing basketball year-round. In high school, he was the only sophomore on the varsity team. Alex was on the Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory team all the way to the state championship and beyond, garnering the title and a 31-0 undefeated season.

Ivy League Player of the Year

Ivy League Player of the Year

Alex was also a gifted student and class valedictorian. He was recruited by numerous universities, but ultimately chose Dartmouth College. His college basketball career was remarkable, to say the least. Primarily a small forward, Alex played many positions, including shooting guard, power forward, and center. Alex is only the second Dartmouth player ever to win the title of Ivy League Player of the Year, a member of Wearer of the Green (Dartmouth’s Sports Hall of Fame), and one of the top ten highest scorers in Dartmouth history.

Seeking a professional career after Dartmouth, Alex found an agent and an opportunity in France. For several months, he played on Cholet’s Pro A team and later, on Nantes’ Pro B team. He then moved north to play half a season on a professional Finnish team. After the Finland season ended, Alex returned home and began work in mortgage consulting.

Since his professional days, Alex has played in a few summer basketball leagues, but all in all, he has moved on from the sport. He worked for mortgage consulting firms in Texas for several years. After having a child, Alex settled down in New York. He is now in REM’s Quality Control department, and is considering going back for his MBA.

If REM’s champion basketball team returns to the courts, we know who our first pick will be. But will he say yes? Probably not, because he’s a restricted free agent of the QC department in Melville. (Basketball fans will understand.)

 

Lou Moran: REM's rock star (not *that* R.E.M.)

A small portion of Lou's collection.

A small portion of Lou's collection.

At REM, we have our own guitar hero -- and he puts Peter Buck to shame.

Our firm shares its initials with an award-winning rock band. We're not associated with them*, but we do have a rock star of our own in our midst. What do you get when you mix over 15 guitars, 28 years of experience, and a mélange of musical styles, rhythms, and riffs? The answer here is our Director of IT, Lou Moran. It began with a fateful concert in which he saw KISS’s Ace Frehley shoot rockets out of a guitar. Lou was inspired to become a musician, too.

A younger Lou

A younger Lou

Lou's played with many bands over the years. For a time in the mid-90s, he lived the rock star life, opening shows for major rock bands. He’s done studio work for local commercials, and has taken up several other instruments, including bass and drums (anything a band might need). He is no stranger to most genres of music, having played tunes from the Allman Brothers Band to Slayer to experimental jazz. His favorite songs to warm up on are Stevie Ray Vaughan’s "Pride and Joy" (for its complex syncopations), The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" (challenging use of the pinky) and Metallica’s classic "Enter Sandman" (he says this one is just really fun to play).

Lou noodles in his home studio

Lou noodles in his home studio

These days, Lou plays at local bars, and is happy to perform whatever might come up. He has built up quite a collection of guitars, including several Les Pauls, some of which are currently on loan to friends and family. Otherwise, Lou enjoys “noodling” by the TV (playing guitar along with whatever plays out of the television) or jamming along with his son to Cage the Elephant or The Orwells. So keep your eyes and ears peeled if you go out at night—you might just catch Lou playing something sweet.

* If Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, or Mike Mills is reading this: Hi! Need a new accountant?

Matt Bass gears up for NYC Triathlon

Have you ever biked across an entire state? Matt has.

Matt Bass, a tax manager in REM's New York City office, is a man of many hats. A graduate of Harvard Business School, Matt has taken on various roles, from radio and television producer to the head of his own operation as a business broker. By the time he became an accountant at REM & Co., Matt had garnered over 30 years of experience in the management world.

Business aside, Matt has some impressive hobbies. Many dare to take up running as a way to stay fit, but Matt has taken that not one, but two steps further. Starting in 2010, Matt has participated in several NYC triathlons—that’s 1 km of swimming, 40 km of biking, and finally 10 km of running to put the icing on the cake. In 2012, Matt completed the New York City Triathlon only one day after finishing the first section of his CPA exams. He’s a member of the New York Cycle Club.

This month, Matt plans to finish yet another NYC triathlon, and on July 23, he’ll participate in RAGBRAI, a week-long bike voyage across the state of Iowa—one of his favorites. We’re cheering you on, Matt!


Do you know of anyone at Raich Ende Malter who might be a good candidate for a staff spotlight? Let us know here.

L to R: Angela Stamper, Matt, and Liz Froemke after the 2012 NYC Triathlon.

L to R: Angela Stamper, Matt, and Liz Froemke after the 2012 NYC Triathlon.

NYS Paid Family Leave Act effective January 1, 2018

Beginning January 1, 2018, all private employers will be required to participate in the New York State Paid Family Leave (NYS PFL) benefit law, which is meant to provide paid leave for employees in certain situations. NYS PFL goes beyond what is required under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with regard to protections and payments, and thereby imposes new family leave obligations on New York employers.

NYS PFL will provide eligible employees (both full- and part-time) with up to eight weeks (and up to 12 weeks when fully implemented by 2020) of paid family leave annually to care for an infant (or newly-adopted or fostered child – including those born or placed for adoption prior to January 1, 2018), a family member with a serious health condition (including a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild), or to assist with family obligations when a family member is called to active duty. Note: NYS PFL is not available for prenatal conditions or an employee with serious health conditions.

Employers subject to NYS PFL

NYS PFL applies to all private employers with at least one employee in New York State. This includes out-of-state employers that have one or more employees working in New York (e.g., those working remotely). Public employers are generally exempt from NYS PFL.

Employees entitled to NYS PFL     

Full-time employees who have been employed for at least 26 weeks are eligible, while part-time employees (defined as those scheduled to work fewer than 20 hours per week) must work at least 175 days to be eligible. Those requirements apply regardless of the number of hours per week actually worked and regardless of the employer’s size. Note: Both non-U.S. citizens and undocumented employees who otherwise meet eligibility requirements are eligible for NYS PFL. Employees working fewer than 26 weeks or 175 days in a consecutive 52-week period (e.g., short-term or seasonal employees) may file an NYS PFL waiver, in which case the NYS PFL payroll contribution deductions will be waived (as would the employer’s responsibility to provide benefits to that employee).

Funding

NYS PFL will be completely funded through employee payroll deductions.

Details

  • Covered employers are required to carry NYS PFL insurance or comply with the requirements to self-insure by January 1, 2018. We strongly recommend that you contact your NYS Disability Insurance carrier regarding adding an NYS FPL rider to your current disability policy as soon as possible. This policy should be effective by January 1, 2018.
  • The maximum employee contribution for coverage beginning January 1, 2018 will be 0.126% of an employee’s weekly wage up to and not to exceed the statewide average weekly rate, which is currently set at $1,305.92. For employees who earn more than $1,305.92 per week, the NYS PFL deduction will be capped at $1.65 per week ($1,305.92 x 0.126%). The deduction percentages and caps may change annually – the deduction percentage may change on January 1; the cap may change on July 1.
  • NYS PFL insurance coverage is designed to be funded through employee payroll deductions; however, employers may choose to cover the premium payments and not deduct contributions from employees. The number of weeks of leave available to eligible employees under the NYS PFL and the benefits paid will be phased in over several years. The phase-in schedule is:

This is a summary of the PFL. As of today, New York has not finalized the regulations regarding PFL. The final regulations are expected to be placed into effect within the next several weeks. As soon as we have additional information, we will forward it to you.

If you have any questions regarding NYS PFL, please contact your disability insurance company or the New York State website: https://www.ny.gov/programs/new-york-state-paid-family-leave.

REM at the "Future of Long Island CRE" summit

Senior tax manager Patricia Evans, partner Michael Rosengarten, and tax supervisor Evan Piccirillo.

Senior tax manager Patricia Evans, partner Michael Rosengarten, and tax supervisor Evan Piccirillo.

Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP joined the "Future of Long Island CRE" summit as a corporate sponsor yesterday in Plainview, New York. The summit was hosted by New England Real Estate Journal, and covered topics as diverse as tax laws, environmental regulations, and an overview of current market trends.

Real estate is REM's largest practice area, with 50 dedicated professionals covering commercial and residential real estate properties, management companies, and owners. Learn more about what we're doing in this area here.

REM volunteers are life-savers

IT Manager Fred Brown practices compressions while tax supervisor Joe DeMartinis observes.

HR coordinator Suzanne Schultz takes a turn.

During the week of May 17, staff members in REM’s Broadway, Long Island, and New Jersey offices received life-saving training. Those who volunteered for the three-hour course were trained to perform adult, child, and infant CPR; to properly use an automatic external defibrillator (AED); and to dislodge obstructions in choking victims and perform resuscitation (if necessary) in adults, children, and infants. Volunteers are part of the firm’s First Responder Team and are expected to respond should an emergency situation arise.

Proofreader Alex Barnett clears the area before administering a "shock" with the AED simulator device. Tax senior Dylan Brady stands clear.

“I’m personally very proud that so many of our staff members volunteer to join the First Responder Team,” says Barbara Weisbein, Director of Human Resources. “The program is partner-approved and staff-run. In addition to the life-saving techniques, the team is trained to take command, including crowd-control and post-EMT arrival. We plan and update our response protocols every year, and each member contributes to the discussion. A trained mind delivers a trained response.”

REM has offered the course to its employees since 2009. The firm absorbs the cost of the training and individual certifications (good for two years), as well as providing multiple AED devices and first aid kits in all REM locations.

Managing Partner Ellis Ende calls the training program a win-win. “I have to say, I have the greatest respect for our First Responders. Their level of compassion is amazing. And you can tell they’re doing it out of a sense of social responsibility, because so many of the same staff members stay on the team from cycle to cycle. We have wonderful people here.”

IT Manager Fred Brown is one of the firm’s original First Responders. He originally took the REM course in 2009. “It wasn’t the first CPR course I’d ever taken, but it was definitely more comprehensive than anything I’d learned before. One thing I like is that the material is always updated and expanded. We learn more every time.”

To date, the First Responder Team has never had to put its skills to use. Fred acknowledges that this is a good thing. “Obviously, it’s important information, and we should always be ready to act on it, but I’ve got to say, I’m glad it’s never happened here.”

Mets game day 2017

Take us out to the ball game...

On Tuesday, May 9, REM staff from our NYC, Long Island, and New Jersey offices came together to cheer on the New York Mets as they defeated the San Francisco Giants, 6-1. The event was organized by REM's Social Events Committee. Committee Co-Chairs Michelle Greco and Monica Lala (both from our LI office) thanked the entire committee for pitching in to prepare and coordinate logistics, with special thanks to audit manager Mike Meilak (NYC office), who was instrumental in making arrangements. The custom-printed REM Mets shirts were designed by tax supervisor Kosta Kokkosis (LI).

New law for NYC independent contractors takes effect May 15, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017, a new law takes effect for businesses using independent contractors in New York City.  The New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act (“FIFA”) makes it easier for freelance workers and independent contractors to collect payment.  It also imposes hefty penalties for anyone who does not get agreements in writing and pay on time.

 
 

Who FIFA affects

FIFA applies to individuals doing work as independent contractors in New York City.  It includes organizations and individuals with no more than one employee, whether incorporated or not,  that provide services in exchange for compensation.  It does not matter whether the hiring person or organization is located in New York City.  It excludes sales representatives, attorneys and licensed medical professionals.

FIFA applies to services over $800, either in a single contract or in multiple agreements entered during any 120-day period.

Requirements

FIFA requires that all contracts be in writing and contain at least the following information:

  1. Name and mailing address for all parties,
  2. An itemization of the services to be provided,
  3. The rate and method of compensation, and
  4. The date payment is due (either an exact date or how to calculate it).

If there is no specific date for payment, the default is 30 days from the date the contractor completed the work.  Note: this is not 30 days from delivery of the work or delivery of an invoice.  If there are no other express agreements, payment is due 30 days from the time of completion.

In addition, FIFA makes it illegal to retaliate against a freelancer for asserting rights protected under FIFA or to condition payment to the freelancer on acceptance of less than the previously-agreed-upon amount.

Penalties

FIFA provides an administrative complaint process with the NYC Office of Labor Standards (“OLS”) and even allows the freelancer or the City to bring a civil lawsuit.  Failure to enter a qualifying contract automatically entitles the independent contractor to a $250 statutory damages award.  The penalties to businesses for failing to comply with FIFA can also be assessed up to double the amount due to the freelancer for failing to make timely payment, plus attorneys’ fees. For repeated violators, FIFA imposes a $25,000 civil penalty, payable to the City’s general fund.

What you can do to protect your business

In order to be in compliance with FIFA, make sure all service and independent contractor agreements are in writing and contain an accurate description of the freelancer’s duties, when payment is due or how payment will be calculated, and the contact information of everyone involved.  Make sure that your organization makes the payments on time.  If your organization normally takes longer to pay, account for that when agreeing on payment dates for all future agreements.  Also, make sure that you have an updated W-9 for all independent contractors that your organization uses for 1099-MISC purposes.

We cannot stress enough the importance of following the above-referenced procedures to protect your business.

Questions, email Lucille Southard at lsouthard@rem-co.com or call her at (516) 228-9000, extension 3212.

© 2017

UPCOMING SEMINAR: Combating Tenant Fraud in Today's Real Estate Market

April 12, 2017 – Illegal sublets, AirBNB hostings, delinquencies – tenant fraud takes many forms. If a landlord suspects illegal occupation or short-term leasing is taking place, when and how is it advisable to initiate legal action? How can landlords prevent tenant fraud in the first place?

Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP (REM) is hosting a seminar for landlords, attorneys, accounting professionals, and real estate professionals on tenant fraud, a serious issue for commercial real estate owners in the New York City metropolitan area. In this seminar, you will learn the basics of landlords' rights, the scope of tenant fraud, mitigating risk, and options for gathering evidence when legal steps are necessary. Speakers include attorney Michelle Maratto Itkowitz (owner, Itkowitz PLLC) and Mark Fogel, Chief Investigator for Forensic Private Investigations. Talks will be moderated by Larry Wilk, CPA, Partner-in-Charge of REM’s Real Estate practice.

Breakfast will be provided by REM. Registration is available online at                                   
https://www.rem-co.com/upcoming-events/2017/5/15/tenant-fraud.

Seminar Title:    “Combating Tenant Fraud in Today’s Real Estate Market”

Event Date:        Monday, May 15, 2017

Location:            Conference Center, 175 Broadhollow Road, Melville, New York

Registration:       https://www.rem-co.com/upcoming-events/2017/5/15/tenant-fraud

Price:                   $20 per person

Contact:               Amy Frushour Kelly, Communications Manager
                             akelly@rem-co.com – 516-228-9000 Ext. 3252

About Raich Ende & Malter Co. LLP (rem-co.com)

Raich Ende Malter (REM) is a regional accounting firm of distinction.  Headquartered in New York City, it is consistently ranked by independent industry surveys as one of the top 25 accounting firms in New York, one of the top 20 in the mid-Atlantic region, and one of the top 100 in the country.  REM provides forward-thinking audit, tax, and business advisory services to over a dozen industry sectors.  It serves businesses ranging from multi-generational family-run enterprises to publicly-traded companies, to organizations that serve the public good as not-for-profit organizations. REM has specialized practices in industries that are key to the economic makeup of New York City and its metropolitan region. These include real estate, financial services, manufacturing and distribution, and to those high-net-worth individuals residing in New York who help fuel and drive the local economy.  Through its affiliation with PrimeGlobal, REM maintains an international reach in 90 foreign countries.

How to score a home run with your board meeting minutes

Minutes of your board’s meetings may seem like a mere formality, but they’re much more than that. Board meeting minutes reflect on your board of directors and your organization’s actions. Savvy nonprofits don’t bunt their way through creating these documents — they try to hit them “out of the park.”

Here are some best practices for developing minutes that will document your meetings clearly and accurately.

Covering the basics

Meeting minutes should cover such fundamentals as the date and time, whether it was a special or regular meeting, and the names of directors attending as well as names of directors who didn’t attend. The minutes should record any board actions (such as motions, votes for and against and resolutions). They also should note whether a quorum was reached, whether any board members left and re-entered the meeting — say, in the case of a possible conflict of interest — and whether there were any abstentions from voting or discussions.

Additionally, minutes should include summaries of key points from reports to the board and of alternatives considered for important decisions. For instance, describe how the board evaluated bids for outsourcing IT work or chose a particular venue for a fundraising event. Another important component: The minutes should record action items — that is, follow-up work that will be needed — and who’ll be responsible. Last, all information in the minutes should be presented clearly and succinctly.

There’s no particular requirement about how much detail should be recorded in your minutes. But attorneys often advise their clients to include enough information so that they can be offered as evidence that an action was properly taken and that directors fulfilled their fiduciary duties. When in doubt about the depth of detail to include in your minutes, consult your attorney.

Meeting privately

At times, your board likely will meet “behind closed doors” to discuss particularly sensitive or confidential issues, such as a staff dismissal or key person salaries. Details of these sessions shouldn’t be included in the board meeting minutes, although a notation should be made that the board moved to an executive session; the notation should provide the general topic of the conversation. Also be aware of your state’s Sunshine Laws that may require open meetings and outline exactly what must be documented.

Details of an executive session can be communicated confidentially in some other form. Nonprofit attorneys sometimes advise their clients not to label this communication as “minutes.” 

Generally, your minutes should be ready for inspection by the next board meeting or within 60 days of the date of the original meeting, whichever comes first. IRS Form 990 asks whether there is “contemporaneous,” or timely, documentation of the board and board committee meetings in minutes or written actions.

Understanding multiple uses

If your organization is ever audited by the IRS, your meeting minutes likely are among the first documents the agency will request to see. Keep in mind that any attachments, exhibits and reports can be considered part of the minutes.

Meeting minutes also can serve as evidence in court. For example, if someone alleges that the board made a hasty decision in cutting a program, board meeting minutes can be used to present the data that was considered when making that decision.

Considering readability

Many not-for-profits today strive for transparency. But your board isn’t being open about its transactions if its meeting minutes are so abbreviated that only the keenest insider can understand the full meaning.

The person assigned to take minutes at your organization’s board meetings should produce minutes that are a straightforward and complete report of all actions taken and the basis for any decisions. Simple and unambiguous wording works best.

With that goal in mind, it’s a good idea to have a second person review the meeting minutes. That person (as well as the original writer) should ask, “Would this report make sense if I hadn’t been at the meeting, and had been unfamiliar with the issues addressed? Would I be able to see at a glance the information provided and decisions made?”

Holding up under inspection

Always keep in mind that the minutes of your board’s meetings can be viewed by many sets of eyes. Make sure that they show the real score.

If you have any questions, email Barry Wechsler at bwechsler@rem-co.com or call him at (212) 944-4433, extension 2408.

© 2017