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About Alan Hill

Alan C. Hill, CPA, is the director of dental services for Rea & Associates, Inc.'s dental division, Bright Dental CPAs. Alan has devoted his career to serving dentists with their accounting, tax and practice management issues. He also helps new dentists get on their feet and choose a path for their careers. Alan is a frequent speaker and writer in the dental industry.

How Are You Celebrating Your Dental Assistants This Week?

Celebrate Dental Assistants | HR Tips | Bright Dental CPAs

It’s Dental Assistants Recognition Week, which means that its your chance show your appreciation to the hard-working men and women who help your dental practice run so well!

We hope you are as excited as we are to celebrate Dental Assistants Recognition Week! This is your chance show your appreciation to the hard-working men and women who help your dental practice run so well! But just in case you need some help letting them know how grateful you are for all the work they do, we’ve provided you with a few suggestions to help point you in the right direction. After all, these men and women not only engage with your patients every day, the skills and experience they bring to your office has been critical to your success – and we think that’s cause for celebration!

  1. Attract Top Talent With These Tax-Free Tactics The first step in appreciating your dental assistants is finding top talent. Here are some tips on how your dental practice can attract top talent and keep them!
  2. Guide Your Dental Practice with an Employee Handbook An employee handbook is a central location for your dental practice’s rules, regulations and benefits. It is a great resource for all your employees to understand their expectations in your dental practice. Read to learn how an employee handbook could be the thing missing from your dental practice.
  3. Are Your Employees Aware of the Benefits? Working at your dental practice has a lot more benefits than a paycheck for your employees. Sometimes those additional benefits are forgotten or overlooked. Take the time to show or remind your team what they are getting besides a paycheck every other week.
  4. A 401(k) Plan and Your Dental Practice Do you offer your dental employees a 401(k) plan? This is a great “benefit” for employees, as many have retirement on their minds. Here are some of the rules with having a 401(k) plan at your dental practice.
  5. Should I Hire My Spouse To Work In My Dental Practice? As with most things, the answer with the question: “Should I hire my spouse to work in my dental practice,” isn’t an easy one to answer. Hopefully this list will provide you with some unbiased advice to help you come to a conclusion that makes sense for your unique situation.

So, how are you planning to recognize your dental assistants this week – and beyond?

Don’t forget, you can always email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates for management assistance throughout every phase of your dental practice lifecycle.

Attract Top Talent With These Tax-Free Tactics

Offering fringe benefits to your employees can set you apart from your competitors when looking to hire new dental assistants and staff.

Offering fringe benefits to your employees can set you apart from your competitors when looking to hire new dental assistants and staff.

Competition is fierce when it comes to attracting and retaining the top talent for your dental practice and it seems as though dental professionals have no choice by to get creative when it comes to providing their dental staff with a comprehensive benefit package. We’ve seen other companies successfully deploy the tactic of providing their teams with fringe benefits, especially those businesses within the technology sector; and maybe it’s time for practice owners throughout the dental industry to consider this approach.

Read Also: Ten Tips For Growing Your Dental Practice

Have you been considering new ways to increase the quality and quantity of your practice’s talent pool? Fringe benefits like free food, massages, fitness centers and game rooms not only help your practice stand out among other practices in the area, they can be implemented without increasing your tax liability. The following is an overview of Publication 15-B, the Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, which is a helpful tool for owners of dental practices who are looking to learn more about the treatment various kinds of fringe benefits will receive at tax time.

What Is A Fringe Benefit?

Generally speaking, a fringe benefit is a form of payment given to a person in exchange for the performance of services. This benefit can be provided by you (the practice owner) to any person (not necessarily a member of your staff) who is performing services for your office, which means independent contractors and partners, for example, are also eligible to receive fringe benefits.    

Are Fringe Benefits Taxable?

All fringe benefits provided by your business are taxable and must be included in your recipients pay unless the law specifically excludes it. Further guidance on how to determine the taxable inclusion amounts is found in Publication 15-B. That being said, cash, cash equivalents and gift cards are generally considered taxable and are not included on the exclusion list below.

What Types Of Fringe Benefits Are Specifically Excluded And Non-Taxable?

(This is not an extensive list.) 

  • Achievement Awards – Your staff likes being recognized for their length of service or safety achievements. While recognition/awards that take the form cash, cash equivalents and gift certificates are taxable, practice owners can reward the dental practice’s team with tangible personal property under this exclusion. Note: Depending on the type of the award, dollar limits may apply.
  • Athletic Facilities – If you maintain an on-site athletic facility that is exclusively used by your office’s staff, your staff’s spouses and their dependent children, the value of this benefit is not required to be included in your staff’s wages.
  • De Minimis Fringe Benefits – A de Minimis fringe benefits are “perks” that are considered to have very little value – so much so that accounting for a benefit of this size would be considered unreasonable or administratively impractical. Common examples of de Minimis fringe benefits include:
    • Occasional personal use of company copying machine
    • Holiday gifts, with a low market value
    • Occasional tickets to the theater or a sporting event
    • Occasional parties and picnics for your practice’s staff and their guests
  • Employee Discounts – This fringe benefit, while subject to limitations, implies that an employer can offer employees a discount for property or services, as long as it is provided to patients as well.
  • Employer-Provided Cell Phones – Many dental professionals provide cell phones for non-compensatory business reasons. Personal use of an employer provided cell phone is excludable from an staff member’s income.
  • Meals
    • De Minimis meals – Coffee, donuts, soft drinks and meals that help to enable your staff to work for longer periods of time are not taxable. Just remember to know your audience – too much sugar is bad for the teeth!
    • Meals on your business premises – Meals that are provided to you team on your practice’s property, which are made available for convenience (facts and circumstances), are excludable. 

NOTE: Expect to see more IRS guidance forthcoming regarding meals as they fine tune the “employer’s convenience” guidance. With all the attention Google and Facebook have garnered for their employee meals the IRS has made meal fringe benefits a priority initiative.

Email a Bright Dental CPA to learn more about what tactics are available to help you attract the talent you need while helping you keep your tax bill down. 

Check out these articles for more tips and tax strategies to help you save extra money at tax time! 

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Put Together An Amazing Dental Advisory Team

Business Advisory Team - Bright Dental CPAs

Not only should your advisory team be experts in their respective fields, they should understand the unique challenges dentistry professionals face every day and the complexities that are associated with dental practice ownership.

As a recent dental school graduate you probably have the next couple of years all mapped out. It’s likely that your first priority is to identify a community to establish your personal and professional roots. Next, you are probably going to want to put your skills to work. But what does that look like?

Read: Dentistry: It’s Not All White Coats and Drills

If you dream of establishing your own dental practice, your best bet is to start by compiling a team of professional advisors. Not only should your advisory team be experts in their respective fields, they should understand the unique challenges dentistry professionals face every day and the complexities that are associated with dental practice ownership.

Trust Your Gut

When you work with a service provider, essentially you are entering into a long-term relationship. Therefore, it’s not only important to identify those who are best suited on a professional level to make up your business team; you also need to consider whether their personalities sync with yours.

Choose to work with someone who not only has your best interest in mind, but who is someone can get along with personally – only you will know whether you will work well with a particular attorney, accountant, or banker. So while it’s always a good idea to ask for recommendations, make sure you get the final say when it comes to making up your team roster.

Do They Really Know What They’re Talking About

You wouldn’t hire an automobile mechanic to act as your Legal Counsel in court, so why would you allow a professional with little-to-no experience in the dental industry help manage your dental practice? It’s so important for up-and-coming dentists to work with professionals who have a solid track record of success in the industry you are pursuing. Working with industry specialists who are able to collaborate with each other – without hidden motives or agendas – will also help you identify the best solutions for any challenge you may face as a business owner as each advisor will be able to bring a unique perspective to the conversation, which will help you see the bigger picture.

When you are able to compile a team of professionals who are not only experts in their respective fields, but who can also offer solid experience in dentistry, you have the ingredients needed for success.

Email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates at Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Alan Hill, CPA (Mentor)


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ID Thieves Don’t Discriminate, Health Professionals Are At Risk

ID Theft and Refund Fraud - Dental CPA

Health professionals are at risk of identification theft and refund fraud. This compilation of resources offered in this Rea & Associates resource will help you through the next steps to reclaiming your identity if you have been targeted.

What has become abundantly clear over the last several years is that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or how you make a living – identity thieves do not discriminate. While tax refund fraud has been around since 2008, the size and scope of the scam has ballooned since then. Fast forward to 2013, and we find that the rapid escalation of this particular scam claimed a jaw-dropping $5.2 billion, according to the United States Government Accountability Office.

Locally, business owners continue to steadily report instances of identity theft and tax refund fraud to local law enforcement as well as to their financial advisors. From our perspective, we continue to see more instances of refund fraud than in previous years, particularly among healthcare professionals, which is a trend that is only expected to get worse.

Read: How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Is It Too Late For You?

You probably won’t even know that you’ve been a victim of tax refund fraud until it’s too late. Some taxpayers will learn about the breach after receiving a letter from the IRS or from their state’s taxation department. It’s also likely that your accountant will be the first one to make the discovery when they try to file your tax return and receive a notification that the name and Social Security Number of their client – you – has already been used.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

Once it’s been discovered that you have been victimized, the burden is on you to prove your identity to the IRS to obtain the tax refund that is rightfully yours. The good news is that once you are able to prove that you are who you say you are, the IRS will happily release your money. But the bad news is that the entire process can take a lot of time and can be confusing to navigate.

Rea & Associates recently released a compilation of documents and resources from a variety of sources to help victims recover from Identity Theft & Refund Fraud, which can be an overwhelming task in itself. The steps victims must complete include:

  • Filing a report with the local police
  • Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert on your credit records.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice by calling the number provided
  • Complete the Identity Theft Affidavit

You don’t have to go through it alone. Your financial advisor can help you through the steps and can communicate with the IRS on your behalf. Your advisor can also determine the validity of documents and phone calls if you have further concerns.

IRS Calling? Don’t Buy It

In addition to stealing your federal and state tax returns, some scammers are going the extra mile to harass their victims to pay “back taxes” that they don’t actually owe. It’s important to remember that the IRS will never contact you by phone or in person. The first correspondence you will have with the IRS will always be in the form of a letter – not a phone call. Last year, more than 1,000 taxpayers collectively lost about $5 million after scammers called to demand payment to settle their debt with the IRS. Failure to pay, the scammers warned, would result in jail time and driver’s license revocation.

For additional guidance, click here to read How to Recover from Identity Theft & Refund Fraud: A Compilation of Documents and Resources and get access to valuable information about what you should watch out for and how you can recover. For more information or for help claiming your tax return, email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates.

By Alan Hill, CPA (Mentor office)


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Buying An Established Dental Practice? Master The Changeover

Dental Practice Transition - Rea & Associates - Bright Dental CPAs

Are you thinking about buying an existing dental practice? The retiring dentist is a great resource and can help facilitate a smooth transition.

Are you a recent dental school graduate? Do you have plans to take over an existing dental practice – one with an established client base, ideal location and new equipment? While this may seem like a great way to streamline your career, don’t be fooled – transitioning ownership of an existing practice requires much more work than hanging your degree on the wall.

For instance, the patients currently being served by the practice may be loyal – just not necessarily to you. Furthermore, the owner you are planning on buying out has likely spent years engaging with the community, establishing his reputation and creating partnerships with other businesses and organizations. Your purchase price probably doesn’t include the price of those contacts and relationships. So, while you may not have to build your dental practice from scratch, you still have a long way to go before you can consider yourself to be an “established” dentist.

The good news is that you don’t have to go through this journey alone.

Download: The Business Side Of Dentistry: Tips and Tools For New Dentists

How To Master The Transition Phase

  1. 5-Star Introductions

You never get a second chance at a first impression, which is why your introduction strategy should be seamless. Consult with the retiring dentist about the best way to make this introduction to the existing clientele and community leaders. Will the initial introduction come from the retiring dentist or from you? Is it necessary to follow up with the client to provide additional information? Sometimes a simple letter is the best way to make to make a first impression, just remember that this piece of correspondence is incredibly powerful. Therefore, consider hiring a professional to write it for you. Just don’t forget to include your hand-written signature.

  1. Employees Are Ambassadors

This transition will not only affect you, the retiring dentist and clients of the practice, it will also deeply impact current employees, many of whom are uncertain of their new role in the practice. It is important for you to be open and upfront with the men and women who will make the transition with you. Consider creating a communications plan and try to answer as many questions presented to you by the employees as possible. You should expect clients to question your employees about the transfer and their feelings about the move and you – their new boss. If you create an environment of safety and transparency, employees are likely to feel better about the transition and will be more apt to positively represent the practice.

  1. Business Ownership Is Not a 9-5 Job

As a business owner, your responsibilities reach far beyond implementation of the technical skills you learned in school. Now, in addition to patient files, you have to balance the books, onboard new employees and become a networking pro. You will soon find out that the most opportune moments are the times you are outside of the office where you can mingle with the community. One of the best ways to target your efforts is to get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce or other business-friendly organizations or clubs. This is a great way to make valuable connections while building your client base. But remember to be choosy about which groups you join. Every membership requires a commitment of time and there are only 24 hours in a day.

  1. Stick To An Advertising Budget

Advertising is a powerful tool when it comes to making people aware of the significant changes occurring within your newly purchased practice. But it can also be incredibly expensive. Not only should you prepare a solid advertising and marketing plan, you must be vigilant when it comes to sticking with that original plan. Ad buys ad up and if you aren’t taking care to strategically target the audience you reach, you could just be throwing money away – a luxury you just can’t afford. Before the first ad rep knocks on your door asking for your business, do your homework and stick to your budget. Oftentimes, media outlets are willing to negotiate.

  1. Rainy Day Fund

Hopefully you conducted a thorough inspection of the equipment prior to your closing date, but even so, it’s good to be over-prepared. Whether your equipment was purchased one year ago or ten years ago, make it a point to set aside some cash to protect against hardship and losses that could result if something were to break. The last thing you want is to diminish productivity, quality and employee satisfaction. This kind of hardship can leave a lasting blemish on your practice’s reputation. Make an effort to put a plan in place to save for any upgrades that may be needed in the foreseeable future.

  1. You Own The Business, But Who Owns The Patient Records?

In addition to your typical buy-sell agreement, you contract should specifically spell out who owns, and who is responsible for, the practice’s receivables, debts and patient records. According to the American Dental Association, this matter may be handled in one of three ways:

  • Retiring dentists keeps original records, buyer gets copies.
  • Buyer keeps originals, retiring dentist keeps copies.
  • Buyer keeps originals and grants access to retiring dentist in the event of need.

If you are considering the pros and cons of transitioning into the small business owner role, be sure to know what, exactly, that role entails. The e-book, The Business Side Of Dentistry: Tips and Tools For New Dentists, provides new dentists with insight into building a business team, deciding on insurance plans and even the business cycle of a typical dental practice. Email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates to find out what else you should know before purchasing an established dental practice.

By Alan Hill, CPA (Mentor office)


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Rea & Associates, Inc. | Bright Dental CPAs | 7201 Center St, Mentor, Ohio 44060-4858
phone + 440-266-0077