New Year: Are You on Track?

As you think about the tax year ending, some of the important considerations on your mind might be:

  • Tax returns and W-2 preparation
  • Applicable ACA reporting
  • Missing tax identification numbers
  • Missing employee information
  • Fringe benefits
  • Shorter processing periods
  • Alternative package delivery methods

It’s a long list. And there’s reason to be preoccupied with getting it all done and double checked.

Employers must file W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31. You’re also obligated to file any 1099 and 1095 forms with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you do end up filing W-2s with missing or incorrect Social Security numbers or employee names, the potential IRS penalties can really add up:

  • $50 per Form W-2 if you correctly file within 30 days of the due date
    • Maximum penalty of $194,000 for small businesses
  • $110 per Form W-2 if you correctly file more than 30 days after the due date but by August 1, 2020
    • Maximum penalty of $556,500 for small businesses
  • $270 per Form W-2 if you correctly file after August 1, 2020, or you do not file the required Forms W-2
    • Maximum penalty of $1,113,000 per year for small businesses

But wait!

Before you get too worried about what could go wrong, take a deep breath. As long as you have a plan in place and the appropriate resources to follow through with it, you can have a smooth year-end experience.

Above all, the top priority on your list to avoid potential W-2 filing errors has to be auditing your employee data. Confirm the following information is complete and accurate for each employee:

  • First and last name
  • Social Security number
  • Address, city, state and zip code

If you’re still feeling concerned about the many other important tasks that need to be completed as part of year-end preparation, outsourcing your payroll could be a viable option. You’ll receive action items, reminders and assistance far in advance to ensure your year-end is processed in a seamless and timely manner.

End of Year Is the Best Time to Switch Payroll Providers

Thinking about switching payroll providers?

A quarter of small business owners are shopping for a payroll provider near the end of the year. Some are fed up with the bad service they’ve received. Others are frustrated by payroll platforms not integrated with their business’s software and hardware. Maybe a vendor’s lack of attention has resulted in costly errors and penalties. Or perhaps a business owner is just tired of doing payroll with everything else on his/her plate.

Whatever your reason, the New Year is the best time to make a change.

Why? At the start of the New Year, there’s no historical data to migrate from your old system into your new one. You also don’t have to go through the hassle of collecting all your year-to-date and quarter-to-date information from your old provider. Changing providers at the beginning of the year allows your new payroll company to hit the ground running with a clean slate.

For a smooth transition, be sure your last pay date of the year is with your old provider, and your first pay date of the year is with your new provider. For example, if you have a pay period ending in December 2020, with a pay date in January 2021, that cycle should be with your new provider since it will be reported on your 2021 W-2s. Your previous provider will prepare the 2020 W-2s. Remember, payroll taxes are based on when wages are paid, not when employees work.

Also, don’t forget to take care of a few vital tasks before you make the switch:

  • Produce copies of all your financial records from your old payroll company such as employee information and tax records.
  • Prepare tax filings from your previous provider that include Q4 2020 quarterly, 2020 annual, and 2020 W-2s.
  • Prepare basic business information for your new provider, such as your Federal and State Employer Identification Numbers and bank account details.

You can certainly switch payroll providers after January, but you’ll have more information to transfer and the added complication of whether it’s the former or current payroll provider’s responsibility to perform certain tasks. That brings us to the most important question – what should you look for in a new payroll provider? Not all providers offer the same level of service. Before you officially make the switch, ask the following questions:

  • What payroll features are provided? Go beyond processing payroll. Source a service that can help you with HR, recruiting and onboarding, time and attendance, and benefits administration – today and as your business grows.
  • Is the payroll system easy to use? You want an intuitive platform that eliminates data entry duplication. It should also be cloud-based, with a simple to navigate dashboard that allows you to view and automate activities, and generate pre-built reports.
  • Is the payroll system integrated? Does it connect payroll, hiring, time and HR to streamline back-office operations? Is it able to exchange data with accounting services, worker’s compensation, 401(k) and more?
  • Will the payroll service keep you compliant? Protect your business. Seek easy access to certified HR professionals who can provide personalized guidance on HR issues, labor laws and federal, state and industry regulations.
  • Is the payroll provider experienced and reputable? Find out how long a provider has been serving the payroll/HR community, and how many active customers it has. Ensure you’ll have access to a dedicated service representative who understands your business, serves as an extension of your team, and is your single point of contact for all of your needs.

Payroll is far too important to stay with an unsatisfactory provider. If you’ve been toying with the idea of outsourcing payroll or changing providers, now is a good time to pull the trigger.

Stop Paying More in Taxes! This One Credit Provides Substantial Savings.

About $1 billion in tax credits are claimed each year under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program. Sadly, many restaurants and lodging businesses are unaware of the program or simply don’t take advantage of it.

WOTC was founded in 1996 by the Small Business Protection Job Act to reduce the federal tax liability of employers who hire from “targeted groups” that commonly face significant obstacles to employment. Examples of target groups include qualified veterans, ex-felons, designed community residents (DCR) and qualified long-term unemployment recipients, a recent addition. In turn, this measure for greater workplace diversity and inclusion incentivizes businesses through compensation for making these hires. (SOURCE)

WOTC offsets the costs of hiring a new worker. This should be welcome news for the hospitality industry, where the turnover rate approaches 75 percent and businesses spend $1,200 per employee on training.

Here are five common reasons why businesses miss out on WOTC funds.

  1. Failure to screen applicants

While there is no limit to the number of new hires employers can claim for WOTC tax credits, businesses often fail to screen new employees to see whether they meet the certification criteria. The remedy is to screen new employees when onboarding new hires to determine WOTC eligibility. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars in taxes each year.

  1. Short submission window

The federal government requires that WOTC applications be processed within 28 days from the applicant’s hire date. Thus, it’s important to identify candidates immediately upon being hired to take the swift action needed. An integrated workforce management solution can make it simple and fast to capture all necessary WOTC information and promptly submit the documentation to qualify for the tax credits.

However, there is one temporary exception to this rule. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) allows eligible employers to retroactively claim the WOTC for all targeted group employees for anyone who began work after December 31, 2014 and before January 1, 2021. (SOURCE)

  1. Unsure who qualifies

Over 20 percent of the workforce qualifies for WOTC, and you wouldn’t know if you were hiring eligible applicants because many of the questions to determine eligibility wouldn’t come up in an interview. For instance, three-quarters of the program’s beneficiaries are food stamp recipients. It’s important to have a system in place for new hires to access and complete WOTC qualification.

  1. Tax liability confusion

It’s a misperception that you must use your WOTC credits immediately or that you need a tax liability to benefit. Once an eligible applicant is certified, the credit can be applied to estimated quarterly tax payments. You can carry the credit forward up to 20 years, and keep the credits on your books as an asset in a possible sale.

  1. Unaware of potential savings

WOTC tax credits can substantially reduce the total amount of money you owe to the IRS. You can claim between $2,400 to $9,600 for each qualifying new hire depending on which target group the employee falls under. The only catch is that your new team member must work a minimum of 120 hours within the first year in their hired role to qualify. After 120 worked hours, you can claim a credit equal to 25 percent of the new hires first year of qualified wages. After 400 hours, a tax credit equal to 40 percent of their first year of wages can be claimed.

CARES Act employee retention credit

In response to the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Eligible employers (experienced a full or partial suspension during the calendar year) and/or experienced a significant reduction of gross receipts due to sheltering-in-place, stay-at-home or similar public health measures, certain employment taxes may be deferred if the employer continues to pay the employee for services unable to be rendered during the period. If you haven’t claimed WOTC for an employee during the same period, you can claim the credit.

 

When looking for a payroll provider, make sure they have the ability to screen new hires during onboarding to determine WOTC eligibility and flag candidates, and that they can assist you in completing and submitting applications within the required timeframe to secure your tax credits. (SOURCE)

Food Safety Management in a Foodservice Business during the New Era of COVID19

By Hal King, Ph.D.

 

If you search the Internet via Google using the search terms “food poisoning”, “foodborne illness”, “diarrhea”, “vomiting”,  along with any restaurant brand name in the United States (just use the word “AND” between the words),  you will see that foodborne illnesses and  disease outbreaks in the foodservice industry are common – many (including myself) consider foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States to be epidemic.  Now during this new COVID19 Pandemic Era where we all may feel like we are in a ship fighting to stay afloat in this huge storm,  it’s even more important to ensure consumers are protected from all public health threats including foodborne diseases – which can be the final thing that “sinks the ship”.

According to the recently published data by The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), restaurants continue to be the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States, causing 64% or more of outbreaks each year from 1998–to 2017 (CDC 2019).  How can you know if your restaurant business is at risk of causing (or has already caused) a foodborne illness in your customers?  Well, one way you can tell is to look at what your key stakeholders (your customers and regulatory experts) outside of your restaurant business are saying about you (just three of the many other pre-assessment questions that should be asked):

 

  1. Has your business had two or more customer complaints about the same product during the same week (many being posted on social media) that might include illness (e.g.,  “made me sick” or “tasted spoiled/old”), allergy (e.g., “didn’t know your product had sesame seeds in it”) or injury (e.g., “bit into the sandwich and found a piece of metal” )?
  2. Do your health department inspection reports continue to cite critical violations (called Foodborne Illness Risk Factors) which by the very definition directly indicate a risk – and likely sporadic foodborne illnesses are already occurring?
  3. Do your employees know when they should not work in the restaurant if they are sick, and are you confident that you are properly screening and excluding sick employees,  and not allowing them to return to work until they are no longer sick (i.e., not scheduled to work before they are non-infectious)?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (and remember this is not a comprehensive list of the recommended full operational risk assessment questions), you are at risk of causing sporadic foodborne illnesses in your customers and also foodborne disease outbreaks.

The good news is that you can begin to establish the proper controls to prevent all of the risk of foodborne illnesses in your restaurant (many of which you are now using to prevent the respiratory virus COVID19 from infecting employees and customers) that include wellness checks, personal hygiene requirements, environmental mitigation SOP’s, and engineering controls (see: King, 2020).   The most important means to actively manage food safety risk (and COVID19 transmission) in a restaurant or any foodservice establishment for that matter is to achieve Active Managerial Control (AMC) of all of these risks by developing and executing a Food Safety Management System  (FSMS) deployed by managers at each shift (King, 2016, and King,  2020).   A FSMS includes:

  1. A hazard analysis of your menu processes and operations using what the FDA calls Process HACCP. The use of Process HACCP in retail foodservice establishments is based on HACCP principles (to enable HACCP applications in non-food manufacturing environments like restaurants), where identified biological (e.g. Salmonella or norovirus), chemical (e.g., a pesticide or allergen), and physical (e.g., a bone in a chicken nugget or piece of metal in a soup) hazards are placed under controls with daily management by a certified manager (the FDA calls these a Certified Food Protection Manager- CFPM)  to eliminate these hazards in food preparation processes that include receiving, storing, preparing, cooking, cooling, reheating, hot holding, and servings foods (FDA 2017),
  2. Identification of where and how the hazard will be controlled during operations (or before the ingredients or products are received by the restaurant from its suppliers), and what to do when the control is not in compliance (what corrective action is needed),
  3. A tool to monitor these controls for the managers during each shift -I recommend digital HACCP mobile technology rather than trying to do this with a paper check list.

It is critical that both managers and food handlers are trained in food safety requirements via an ASNI certified program (which has a foundation from the FDA Food Code, and especially ensure a CFPM is at each shift) so they understand how foodborne illnesses are caused and how to control them.  For example, it is critically important that a manager knows when to exclude food handlers from work when they have certain signs and symptoms of illness (and knows how to properly screen employees for them), and food handlers also know when not to come to work with the same.   Continuous training and evaluation of all staff to ensure each can demonstrate knowledge of all the food safety hazards associated with the menu being prepared and served is also important (as the menu may change due to Limited Time Offers (LTO’s) or change in supplier ingredients, etc.).   It is helpful to ensure managers are also prepared to execute emergency procedures during food safety emergencies.

An example of the processes and actions a manager would perform using a FSMS can be observed using the free mobile app EmergiProtect (see EmergiProtect.com- sponsored by our friends at GOJO inc.).  This mobile app isn’t a complete FSMS necessary to apply Process HACCP to your restaurant for all the hazards in your business.  However the Emergency Operating Procedures (EOP’s) for the restaurant manager (that include how to screen and exclude employees properly for symptoms of COVID19 and foodborne illnesses including how to use a sick log, see: https://www.emergiprotect.com/sicklog)  is a good demonstration of what is needed in a FSMS to ensure controls are established and monitored (in this example, controlling for working sick employees).  The app also provides other EOP’s useful to restaurant operators due to unexpected events common to a foodservice business including how to ensure food safety during power outages and boil water alerts (and remain open), and how to prepare for and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

In this new Era of Pandemic COVID19, the restaurant owner (and the corporate enterprise helping franchised restaurant owners) must ensure the public health not just for foodborne illnesses but also for respiratory diseases in order to remain and thrive in business.  Especially now that we are also entering both the norovirus (a stomach flu) and the Flu seasons (another respiratory disease), and we are in the hurricane season where food safety emergencies are likely, ensuring each restaurant is executing a FSMS to prevent these risk is paramount.

 

Author information: Hal King, Ph.D. is the CEO and managing partner of Active Food Safety (www.activefoodsafety.com ), an advisory services and mobile products company whose partners have developed the new Enterprise Mastery of food safety risk for the food industry.   Hal can be reached at halking@activefoodsafety.com.

 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks, United States, 2017, Annual Report. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC.

Food and Drug Administration (2017)  Annex 4.  Management of food safety practices- achieving active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors. FDA Food Code.

King, H. (2016) Implementing active managerial control principles in a retail food business. Food Safety Magazine, FEB/MAR, http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2016/implementing-active-managerial-control-principles-in-a-retail-food-business/

 

King, H. (2020) Food Safety Management Systems: Achieving active managerial control of foodborne illness risk factors in a retail foodservice business (Springer). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/3030447340/ref=pe_41006280_491026320_pe_re_csr_ea_lm?pldnSite=1

 

King, H. (2020) Breaking the chain of infectious disease transmission in a retail foodservice business.  Food Safety Magazine, AUG/SEP, https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/augustseptember-2020/breaking-the-chain-of-infectious-disease-transmission-in-a-retail-foodservice-business/

 

 

Five Ways A Multi-Purpose Terminal Can Grow Your Business

Having the right tools to run your business isn’t just a convenience; it makes a difference. For example, owning a swiss army knife enables you to do lots of things faster and better than a dull butter knife.

Now apply that principle to the way you do business today. Do you manually track inventory with pen and paper? Can you accept digital wallet payments with your current terminal? Are you calculating sales tax on another piece of equipment? Are you handing out written receipts?

The latest terminal technology rolls multiple functions into one device so you can more quickly get everything done. Here are five ways it can help you grow your business.

Frees valuable space on your counter

Connected by Wi-Fi, Terminal+ cuts the cord to become your center of commerce on both sides of the counter. Great for businesses with limited countertop space, it’s an all-in-one terminal, barcode scanner and receipt printer that fits in the palm of your hand so you can freely move about your store to checkout customers and work on back-office activities.

Unbinds you from inventory management

Say goodbye to the days of manual tracking inventory with pen and paper. With Terminal+, you can throw away inventory binders and automatically track how much stock you have in real time without lifting a finger. The built-in barcode scanner speeds up the checkout and eliminates tracking errors, so you never run out of favorites.

Creates better checkout experiences

Customers expect a safe, seamless in-store checkout experience. So give it to them with Terminal+. Accpet contactless payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, or swipe and dip card payments. It’s a welcome surprise when you can meet customers to check them out and provide a receipt on the spot instead of sending them to the counter to pay for purchases.

Makes sales less taxing

Keeping track of changing state and local sales tax is a thing of the past. Terminal+ intuitively calculates sales tax on transactions, so you stay compliant and get a leg up on filing.

Protects your brand and profits

Minimizing payment acceptance costs and fraud puts more money in your pocket. Terminal+ transactions are protected by Heartland Secure™, the highest level of credit and debit card security available, to guard your business and your customers’ card information. With that kind of protection, you can sleep better.

Terminal+ is a terminal, receipt printer, barcode scanner and back-office manager rolled into one handheld device. Connected by Wi-Fi, it allows you to cut the cord and get everything done faster. It gives you the freedom to run your business while you roam your business. And that leaves more time to focus on growing your business.

 

Build a gift card program. Boost your revenue. 

Social distancing is reframing the way customers think about the dining experience. Instead of eating at their favorite steakhouse on Friday night, families are hunkering down and abiding by the CDC’s warning. Likewise, as restaurateurs, it’s our job to rethink the way we do business. And it starts with establishing a strong gift card program. Why a gift card program? Not only can it attract new customers but strengthen relationships with existing ones.

Here are three tips to help you build a dynamic gift card program:

Spread the word

Use social media to kick start your plan. Remind followers that gift cards are available for purchase and create a paid social media campaign to drive awareness. Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and advertising credits for qualified small business owners.

Sell gift cards on your website

With social distancing comes amplified screen time. Make it easy for diners to buy gift cards on your website. Create a homepage banner or image carousel to advertise your gift cards. Maybe rework your web copy to promote them, too. Whatever you decide, make sure the message is noticeable. The more in-your-face, the better.

Deals on take-out orders

Run specials on gift cards for take-out orders. For example, every order over $50 receives a $10 gift card, or offer a 10 percent discount on purchases made with a gift card. Yes, these are aggressive offers, but remember, we’re changing the way customers think about the dining experience. The goal is to excite every customer and keep them coming back.

These are unprecedented times, but you’re not alone on the journey. We’re in this together.

Disney Springs Begins Phased Reopening on May 20

by , Vice President, Disney Springs

A phased reopening of Disney Springs will begin on May 20. Following the guidance of government and health officials, a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during this initial phase. The rest of Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed, including theme parks and resort hotels.

As we continue to monitor conditions, and with the health of guests and Disney cast members at the forefront of our planning, we are making several operational changes. Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both cast members and guests, limited-contact guest services and additional safety training for cast members.

We will apply learnings and ideas from leaders in the health and travel industries, and we’re also talking to our unions as we prepare for some cast members to return to work.

During the initial opening phase, Disney Springs will have limitations on capacity, parking and operating hours. Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through this process as responsibly as we can. Additional protocols and procedures may be announced closer to the opening date. Please check DisneySprings.com as we get closer to May 20 for the most current information on operating hours, locations and safety procedures.

Restaurants Stay Open During COVID-19: A Great Win For The Industry

On March 20, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-71, where he announced that restaurants will move to take-out and delivery only in response to the evolving COVID-19 impact across the state. In his Executive Order, the Governor also lifted the ban on alcohol delivery for restaurants under certain conditions.

Allowing restaurants to remain open is a great win for the industry among the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital for restaurants and hotels to remain safe and practice sanitation and social distancing during this time. Governor DeSantis has expressed his support to retailers, restaurants, and employees as they pursue creative business practices that safely serve consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.

In addition to allowing restaurants to offer to-go and delivery service, the ban on alcohol delivery has also been lifted. Restaurants are now allowed to sell alcohol in sealed containers to be consumed off of the premises of the restaurant, so long as it is accompanied by the sale of food and complies with Section 561.57 of Florida Statues.

For more information and industry-related COVID-19 updates, please visit https://frla.org/covid-19.

Meet our January Member of the Month

Meet Laurie Farlow, our January 2020 Member of the Month! Laurie is the proud owner and operator of Farlow’s on the Water, located in Englewood, Florida, which she runs with her husband Keith.

Her career in the restaurant industry began in 2003, when she and Keith opened Farlow’s. The 285-seat restaurant serves food with a Caribbean taste and Southern twist. Before opening Farlow’s, Laurie had zero restaurant experience but plenty of supervisory and management service. It was actually Keith who had the experience and passion for food service. With their combined experiences, Laurie and Keith make the perfect team for operating Farlow’s.

Laurie’s favorite part about working in the restaurant industry is meeting people (customers, employees and other trade professionals). To her, customer service is about connecting with people.

Thank you, Laurie, for being a wonderful FRLA member. We are proud to honor you as our January Member of the Month.

If you haven’t already, watch Laurie’s highlight video below:

Feeling Jolly About our December Member of the Month

Get to know our December Member of the Month, Damien O’Riordan, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Damien attended the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology pursuing a degree in hospitality management nearly 25 years ago and immediately found his passion for the industry.

To Damien, Sarasota has so much to offer visitors and locals alike, and considers it the “best kept secret”. Boasting 35 miles of white-sand beaches, fabulous restaurants, and countless things to do, Sarasota is a tourist haven. Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton boasts over 250 rooms, and offers wonderful amenities to help visitors explore this beach destination. However, Damien doesn’t take credit for the exemplary service offered here. He couldn’t do it without his hard-working staff.

Damien is a gift to FRLA, and a gift to The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Be sure to check out his highlight to learn more about this awesome member!