Construction is strenuous work, demanding both physically and mentally. It can be hazardous, posing potential risks from falls, heavy equipment and power tools. It’s also a field with a relatively high percentage of older workers who are often more susceptible to illness and injuries than their younger colleagues.

For all these reasons, it’s especially important to look out for your employees’ well-being if you want your construction company to be successful. One way to do so is by establishing a formal wellness program. But building one of these programs entails a great degree of planning, execution and maintenance — just like one of your projects.

Lay out the plan

Employee wellness programs can be broadly defined as health promotion activities or companywide policies to support healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes while at work. They can range from something as simple as substituting fruits and juices for chips and sodas in the job trailer to onsite exercise classes to company-sponsored and incentivized weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs. Some programs combine three types of services/activities:

  1. Health screenings to identify medical risks (with employee consent),

  2. Lifestyle management training to encourage healthier behavior, and

  3. Disease management to support people with existing chronic conditions.

    For the past several years, the Affordable Care Act has offered incentives to employers that establish qualifying company wellness programs. As of this writing, however, it’s uncertain what might happen to these incentives under further health care reform.

    Keep it simple

    Because your goal is to encourage participation by as many employees as possible, any wellness program you do implement should be easy to understand and simple to work with. You don’t want your employees spending an inordinate amount of time puzzling over the rules and procedures, filling out spreadsheets, or attending too-frequent seminars or classes.

    Take advantage of technology that lets people use their cell phones and home computers to participate from anywhere, anytime. Offer a variety of options, to accommodate employees who want to start slow as well as those who are more enthusiastic.

    Consider your culture

    Design or adapt the wellness program to fit the tone and tenor of your construction company’s culture. If your employees thrive in a competitive environment, then providing competitions, contests and challenges can help motivate participation. If your culture is a more cooperative model, try structuring the program to promote teamwork and camaraderie in meeting health and fitness goals.

    The program’s content and materials should be in keeping with the rest of your company’s internal communications. It should also incorporate a number of different communication methods — such as posters and flyers in the office and on jobsites, live in-person team meetings, and online alerts via emails or texts.

    Be cautious with incentives

    Some companies offer financial incentives to encourage participation in their wellness programs. Some reduce a participating employee’s share of health insurance premiums. Others offer cash incentives to employees who complete health screenings, or who meet certain biometric goals for blood pressure, body mass index or blood cholesterol.

    Although financial incentives do contribute somewhat to higher participation levels, surveys suggest they aren’t the primary reason for most participants’ involvement. In fact, many workers are wary of programs that tie premiums to participation or outcomes.

    A 2014 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, for instance, found that 80% of working-age adults who get their insurance through an employer are supportive of wellness programs themselves. But most respondents opposed requiring workers to pay higher premiums if they didn’t participate (62%) or failed to meet certain health-related goals (75%). So, unless carefully considered, incentive plans can actually discourage participation or have the unintended consequence of shifting costs to employees in poorer health.

    Get management on board

    To be successful, wellness programs can’t just be mandated from the top down. They need active support from leaders at every level — from you, the construction business owners, to your management team to your project managers on jobsites. If any of these leaders are unenthusiastic, it will adversely affect participation.

    In fact, you’ll likely need all of your employees in leadership roles to champion the wellness program for the first several months, if not longer. So involve them in both the planning and launch of the initiative.

    Encourage your employees

    If you can encourage your employees to improve and maintain their health, it can pay off in the form of lower absenteeism, reduced medical insurance costs and a more vigorous workforce. Establishing and implementing a companywide wellness program is an ambitious but potentially effective way to work toward these goals.


    © 2017


If you changed your name for any reason during the past year, you will need to file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to notify them of the name change before you submit your 2017 tax return. The IRS will match the first few letters of your last name with your social security number on file with the SSA. If a mismatch occurs, there may be several potential consequences, including being denied the option to e-file your tax return. Also, the IRS may deem your income as taxable, but then disallow any deductions or they may send you a notice of taxes owed and underpayment penalties.


Here are the steps you should take to avoid this headache.


1)  Before you file your 2017 tax return, complete Form SS-5, which is available at Be prepared to provide proof of citizenship as well as documents that show your previous name and new name.


2)  Double check the W-2 you received from your employer to ensure the name change was made correctly. Once verified, confirm that the SSA has been notified as well.


3)  Update other important documents and accounts to reflect your name change.


If you cannot file the name change in a timely manner, use the name on file at the Social Security Administration and with your employer when you file your 2017 taxes. This will help you avoid receiving a notice of a name mismatch from the IRS.



While autumn isn't usually considered a major tax season, there are many important dates coming up in September and October for taxpayers. Take a look at the deadlines below to see if any apply to you or your business:

*    September 15 –

Third-quarter installment of 2017 individual and corporation estimated income tax is due.

S corporations: Filing deadline for 2016 tax returns for S corporations that requested/received a six-month extension.

Partnerships: Filing deadline for 2016 tax returns for partnerships that requested/received an automatic six-month extension.

Electing large partnerships: Filing deadline for 2016 tax returns for electing large partnerships that requested/received a six-month extension.

*    October 1 – Deadline for self-employed individuals and small businesses to establish a SIMPLE IRA plan for 2017.

*   October 16 – Filing deadline for 2016 individual or corporation tax returns that requested/received a six-month extension. Pay taxes due by this date.

If you have questions or need help with filing, give us a call.


Is your child thinking about taking on a job for extra money this summer? If so, both of you may have questions about taxes. The following are a few tax tips to help you prepare.

For 2017, your child can earn as much as $6,350 and not pay a dime in federal income tax. If your child's earnings won't exceed this amount, consider having the child claim "student–exempt" when completing the "Federal Withholding Allowance Certificate" (Form W-4). As long as your child's total income doesn't exceed the $6,350 limit, he or she may not need to file a 2017 tax return.

Don't overlook the fact Social Security and Medicare taxes will be withheld from your child's paycheck. While these payments are not income taxes, let your new worker know they will be withheld from his or her paycheck.

Keep in mind that self-employment income, tips, interest, dividends, and stock sales may impact your child's tax return filing requirement.

As long as you provide more than half of your child's support, you can continue to claim the child as an exemption on your tax return. Your child will lose his or her exemption, but that exemption deduction is typically more valuable to you than to your child.

If you need more details about the tax implications of your child's summer job, please call.

Summertime usually makes us think of vacations, backyard barbecues, and general relaxation. Tax planning may not be on the top of your summertime to do list, but this year you may want to consider making time for it.

Major tax reform is being considered in Washington for the first time in thirty years. Current proposals include changes to the tax bracket structure, personal deductions, exemptions, and childcare credits. Potential changes could create pitfalls or opportunities that can make a difference in the taxes you pay. You can't control what happens in Washington, but you can prepare for what's ahead by considering moves that could minimize your tax bill for 2017.

This year tax planning is more important than ever. Call us today at 203-468-8133 to schedule a midyear tax review. We'll discuss your situation and find the strategies that are most beneficial to you.

Turnover is an often overlooked cost of doing business. Sometimes it can run as high as 25% of salary and benefits. One way to reduce this cost is to hire wisely. It's an oft-quoted cliché that employees are a company's most valuable assets. Try generating revenue with unmotivated or unskilled employees, and you'll soon discover that the cliché rings true.


How do you locate the best employees?


Know what you're looking for. Before you publish a job announcement or talk to potential candidates, consider the type of skills that would fit best with your company. This may involve clarifying the types of skills that are essential to your company, as well as skills that are specific to the position being filled. For example, if the business prides itself on written communications, you don't want to hire a candidate who struggles with grammar or balks at the prospect of writing a report.


Look in the right places. Once you're clear about the type of employee you're hoping to hire, focus on discovering the best candidates and drawing them to your company. You might post the position on job boards of specific trade organizations, network with local colleges and technical schools, or ask for recommendations from your current employees. In general, the more specific skills you hope to find, the wider net you'll have to cast.

Make the interview count. Potential candidates are often counseled to conduct mock interviews, and wise employers will hone their interviewing skills too. You want to identify candidates who

will be eager to contribute to your company. Asking focused questions and listening with a purpose are key to the interview process. A good interviewer will also attempt to identify "red flags" that indicate potential problems. For example, the candidate may provide vague or rambling answers to simple questions. This could indicate normal interview anxiety, or he or she might be hiding key facts from you – information that could directly affect your hiring decision.


Finding quality employees that will mesh well with your company culture is not an exact science. But, thoughtful preparation and careful interviewing can pay dividends for years to come.

Each year the IRS produces its "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams. As criminals become savvier at stealing personal information and scamming people out of their money, taxpayers must be more vigilant than ever. Here are some of the more common scams you may encounter.

Identity theft: The IRS continues to receive fraudulent returns filed with someone else's social security number each year. While the agency is making progress in finding and prosecuting these criminals, taxpayers must be extremely cautious with their personal information to avoid becoming a victim.

Phishing: Phishing is a scam where criminals try to steal your financial information through the use of legitimate-looking emails or websites. Knowing that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email regarding bills or refunds should help you avoid this scam. If you receive a suspicious email, don't click on it; forward it to

Phone scams: This ongoing scam involves criminals who call taxpayers and impersonate IRS agents. Their attempts to get taxpayer information often include threats of police arrest, deportation, and license revocation. The IRS reminds taxpayers that they never demand immediate payment, require a specific form of payment, request card payment over the phone or threaten to involve law enforcement.

Charities: Taxpayers should be aware of a scam where groups pose as charitable organizations to attract donations from contributors. These groups sometimes choose names similar to nationally known organizations so contributors are more apt to open their pocketbooks. Before you donate, check Exempt Organizations Select Check, a tool offered by the IRS that allows you to verify the legitimacy of organizations to which you are considering donating funds.

Awareness is often your best defense to protect yourself from these popular scams.

When trying to grow their companies, business owners often find themselves having to convince others of the viability of their plans. As a contractor, you’re no different. Whether you need financing from your bank, greater bonding capacity from your surety or just the strategic support of your managers, you’ve got to make your case. Something that can really help: audited financial statements.

GAAP power

Most contractors maintain an in-house accounting system to manage their financials. The documents your staff prepares are called “internally prepared financial statements.”

In many cases, internal financials are perfectly functional for the day-to-day operational needs of a construction company. But they often don’t follow every reporting standard prescribed under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

When an external CPA audits your financial statements, he or she will examine and test various accounting documents to verify whether you’re following GAAP and, afterward, offer an opinion on your statements. If the auditor issues an “unqualified” opinion, he or she agrees with the methods your in-house team used to prepare the statements.

If a “qualified” opinion is issued, it usually means the auditor has identified one or more GAAP reporting methods that your construction company hasn’t followed. This doesn’t mean your financial statements are inaccurate; it just signifies that you didn’t prepare them according to GAAP. (There may be other reasons for a qualified opinion, as well.)

More money, fewer mistakes

Many lenders and sureties require contractors to provide audited financial statements before they’ll approve loans or bonding. Some local and state governments also provide increased work and project award capacity to construction companies with audited statements.

You may even save money. Businesses with audited statements may obtain lower interest rates on loans. And, because of the extra steps an external auditor takes, audited financial statements are more likely to be free of reporting mistakes, such as data entry errors, than are internally prepared statements. For example, if your balance sheet shows that you bought a crane for $100,000, your auditor will double-check that figure by looking at your receipts/invoices.

Although audited financial statements can provide the benefits mentioned, they’re not something your construction business should leap into without foresight. In addition to requiring a financial investment, an outside audit will call for you and your employees to invest a substantial amount of time and energy toward its completion. You’ll need to gather and provide extensive documentation and even submit to interviews.

A variety of documentation

If you decide to try an external audit of your financial statements, you and pertinent staff members will meet with your auditor to establish a good working relationship and discuss timelines and responsibilities before the audit begins.

From there, expect to provide documentation such as a detail general ledger, up to date through the end of the period the audit covers, and the original source documentation (such as canceled checks, bank statements, vendors’ invoices) for areas being tested. You may also need to provide lease agreements, loan covenants and notes of all lenders. In addition, your CPA may ask for a variety of schedules (and supporting documents), including a schedule of:

  • Accounts receivable,
  • Priced inventories,
  • Fixed assets and depreciation taken on them,
  • Prepaid expenses,
  • Loans, trade payables, and other liabilities reconciled with the lenders’ and creditors’ records, and
  • Other accrued liabilities (for example, employees’ accrued vacation and sick time).

Construction-specific documents will also come into play. The auditor will look at ongoing and upcoming projects and either confirm a certain percentage of the costs or test your entire job cost system. He or she will also test estimates for accuracy and completeness. It’s important to both lenders and sureties that contractors engage auditors with expertise in the construction industry.

Powerful stuff

As you can see from the wealth of information being collected, audited financial statements are powerful stuff. And, to reiterate, it’s particularly important to have a reputable CPA firm with experience in the construction industry perform your audit.

© 2016

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