Thursday, March 26, 2015

SBDC at UNF Client Among Select Businesses Nationwide Recognized in Washington

Jacksonville, FL: On March 16, America's Small Business Development Center Network (America's SBDC), the national association of SBDCs, held a special 35th anniversary legislative reception to showcase a sampling of SBDC clients from across the country. Among the 11 SBDC clients from eight states invited to the reception was Kathryn Murphy, owner of Jacksonville-based Comfort Keepers and client of the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida (UNF).

Murphy was the only client honored from the Florida SBDC Network, representing the thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners who receive business assistance each year.

"Words can't express the honor I feel in representing the small business community for our State," said Murphy. "Successful small business owners 'burn the midnight oil,' are constant decision makers and problem solvers, and make many personal sacrifices-all to make a difference in the lives of the clients they serve. Staying on top of regulations, treating employees fairly, providing services or products with the highest integrity while making sure there is a profit at the end of the day is no easy task, and thousands of business owners in Florida do this on a daily basis. I am extremely proud and excited to be selected as the representative of Florida's small business community at the Federal level during this special reception highlighting the successes of the American Small Business Development Center."

Comfort Keepers specializes in providing in-home care for older adults needing assistance with daily activities. Thanks to the assistance of the Florida SBDC at UNF and consultant Cathy Hagan, Murphy opened the franchise's first Jacksonville location in 2002 and the second in 2007. Most recently, Murphy worked with the FSBDC to purchase her third location. Under her leadership, the company has grown from two employees to more than 75. In 2011, Murphy was selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration's Woman Business Champion of the Year for both North Florida and the state. In 2013, Murphy was one of nine women to receive the Florida Achievement Award by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Last year, she received the Governor's Business Advocate Award presented by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

The America's SBDC 35th Anniversary Reception was held in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Chairman of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, and Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, addressed reception guests. The mission of America's SBDC and SBDCs nationwide is to help entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership and to help existing businesses grow and succeed.

"We are very proud of Kathryn and thrilled that she could be a part of this special ceremony," said Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC. "She has devoted her life to helping others and is well-deserving of this recognition. We feel honored to be a part of her success." 


About The SBDC at UNF:  Since 1976, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida has helped over 35,000 small businesses in an 18-county area. With offices in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palatka, Homosassa, Yulee, Gainesville, Live Oak and Ocala, the FSBDC at UNF provides assistance through management advice and technical training with little to no-cost to the potential, fledgling and/or well-established small business owners. The SBDC at UNF is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and is a proud member of the Florida SBDC Network and part of the national Association of Small Business Development Centers. For additional information, visit www.sbdc.unf.edu or call 1.800.450.4624.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Client of the Month: Myers Seth Pump

In the industrial pump manufacturing industry, you might not expect to find a petite, soft-spoken Vietnamese woman at the helm.  That is, until you meet Teresa Myers, CEO of Myers Seth Pumps.  Her husband, Doug, started the company in 1991 and Teresa joined him in 1997 after serving as CFO for another manufacturing-based company in Jacksonville.

Myers Seth Pumps (MSP) manufactures and distributes pumps and de-watering equipment throughout the US and abroad. MSP’s international customers have primarily come to them through distributors they have met at US trade shows. Teresa wanted to know more about how to grow and expand the companies export sales.  That’s when she first discovered the services of the Florida SBDC at UNF.  In January 2008, she attended the SBDC’s inaugural International Trade Certificate Program. Over a six-week time period, Teresa was introduced to the tricks of trade and countless resources to help grow MSPs export sales.  In 2009, she returned to the FSBDC to explore opportunities to sell to the government. SBDC Government Contracting Specialist Paul Arrington worked with her to get set up on a GSA schedule and register for appropriate certifications. They continue to work together on and off since then as contracting opportunities arise. 

In 2011, Teresa began working with Cathy Hagan, SBDC at UNF business consultant to explore opportunities for growth and challenges that might get in the way. A detailed financial analysis was prepared using Optimist, software that demonstrates how managing price, cost of goods, and volume could impact MSP’s bottom line. Additionally, Cathy worked with Teresa and Doug to assess processes and address personnel needs as the company pursued growth.

Teresa participated in the SBDC at UNF’s CEO XChange program, a peer-to-peer roundtable group of CEO’s for two years. In March 2012, the SBDC made it possible for her to attend LEAN training offered by the Lean Consortium, which gave her tips and tricks on how to be make her processes more efficient.

While busy in the domestic market, Teresa did not want to miss out on opportunities to sell her products globally.  In June 2012, SBDC international trade specialist Stacy Roussel developed a detailed export marketing plan for Myers Seth Pumps, identifying top markets for the company’s products.

In June 2014, Teresa began working with SBDC at UNF consultant Diane Denslow.  Over a two month time period, Diane facilitated strategic planning sessions with Teresa and other key players in the business with a focus on defining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Rapid Research from the USF SBDC provided numerous industry and market reports.  Teresa and key employees took the BOSI assessment, a tool that uncovers the entrepreneurial DNA of key employees to determine what drives them.  The SBDC at UNF graduate student intern used Profit Cents, a financial analysis software that measures how a company compares to industry averages. One of the purposes of the strategic plan was to help Teresa define an exit strategy as she hopes to transition out of the business in the next five years.  Diane provided great insight on issues related to family business succession planning.  Cathy helped Teresa understand other exit strategies and how to maximize the value of the company.  Josh Hay, SBDC at UNF grad student, prepared an analysis of the business to understand how to measure its value.

Teresa and Doug recognize that to grow their business, they must continually innovate to meet the needs of their customers and stay ahead of the competition.  To kick off 2015, they introduced a new pump into the construction market, the DD-6 Double Diaphragm pump.  Doug’s design addresses the needs of the customer for a more versatile pump.  The demand has been exciting, so Myers-Seth is gearing up to hire more employees to support sales and production and are considering the purchase of capital equipment that will automate some of the production process to increase efficiency.
Teresa will continue to be a lifelong learner and work with the SBDC at UNF to grow the business and prepare for the future.

“For most business owners, their ultimate goal is to someday sell their business and have enough financially to retire comfortably. However, without planning properly, most small businesses won't make it past three to five years. We found SBDC to be one of the best places to seek help.  In the last five years, SBDC has provided MSP with guidance, resources, and training through all different stages of our business. Our company has truly enjoyed working and learning from their professional team," says Teresa.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kids Are Building Robots in Jacksonville FL


We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark McCombs, Executive Director of Renaissance Jax, recently and wanted to hear more about the close to 50 FIRST lego robotics teams that he is overlooking on the First Coast.

Tell us a little about your program

Renaissance Jax is a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to FIRST robotics teams. Our goal is to build Jacksonville’s cognitive capital by helping to grow close to 300 competitive (and sustainable!) robot teams in the next 5-7 years which would have potentially over 6500 student participants per year. We want to get local and regional businesses to sponsor the robotics teams directly, mentor the students, and take stock in our region by creating the workforce that has the potential to attract engineering, design, manufacturing, and other firms that before might not have considered our city as a reasonable site for relocation of their business.

What makes your program so enticing to the students?

If you didn’t already know, kids LOVE robots. Machines that move and perform tasks are so exciting, and building them to compete with other machines is even more so. FIRST is a 25 year old program that has close to 400,000 participants annually, and the competitions are insane whether it is at the local, state, or world level. Put 10 kids on a FIRST Lego League (age 9-14)  team, give them a research project topic and tell them to make a skit that covers a creative solution to that problem, and they will blow you away at how cool their solution will be. The kids are solving real world problems that are new each year, and learning that hard work and learning to use their brains is more fun than they could have ever imagined. The high school students get to travel all over the state and country for competition, and get to build machines that are as large as 5ft tall and 120lbs. The competitions are set up like a professional sports event and its truly a spectacle. Spiked, colored hair, thumping music from the PA, outta-control announcers, and even at a regional event, up to 75 teams decked out in custom team apparel trying to make a massive machine do really complicated stuff. Did I mention $20 Million dollars in available scholarship money offered through FIRST???

What are your plans for the upcoming One Spark event?

Renaissance Jax is going to showcase the different levels of FIRST to the general public and let people know about the huge momentum that our region has gained over the last 3 years in terms of team and event growth. I want to get 50-100 people at least signed up for summer training workshops, and will be seeking sponsorships for rookie and returning team grants that I hope to offer this fall. We got a huge response last year and it was a ton of fun letting people know what we are up to. One Spark launched our name into the minds of thousands of people and this year we are going to tell them about all the progress that we’ve made.

Who do you look to for inspiration in your business endeavors?

The man who started FIRST is named Dean Kamen. If you don’t already know who he is – Google him. He started FIRST with the idea that if we as a country can get kids to focus on things like designing, building, and programming as opposed to passing, dribbling, and shooting, then we as a society can have a much better future. There are countless examples of students who have come through the program and proven him right. There are tons of companies who give preference to students who come through FIRST because they know what it can do for a young mind. Dean Kamen has over 440 patents, but his greatest gift to mankind, he believes, is FIRST because of what it can do for millions of people.

Elon Musk is also one of my great inspirations. He is truly the real life equivalent of Tony Stark from Iron Man. My original goal upon graduation was to go work for one of his companies, SpaceX. It became clear that I would have at least had a really good shot at being able to move to California and build rockets and aid in the coolest privately funded outer space firm in human history, but if I went – who else would follow from Jacksonville. I believe that what Renaissance Jax means for Jacksonville is that more companies like SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, and others will be able to come to fruition as a result of having many thousands of highly skilled, capable, and motivated individuals as a result of FIRST.

Jacksonville’s resources are ripe for a quantum shift over the next few years regarding the amount of high-tech manufacturing and engineering that could happen here. Every company I talk to about these programs echoes the same sentiment that there are not enough skilled individuals out there to fill their current needs let alone help them push new ideas onto the books. I look to people like Dean Kamen and Elon Musk for trends in what they are working on, using that as inspiration to build the workforce that can make their dreams and others come to life here in North Florida.


If someone is interested in helping or hearing more about what you are doing, how can they keep in touch?

COME TO ONE SPARK!!!!! We will be in Hemming Plaza for the festival. You can also check out our website renaissancejax.org or send an email to renaissancejax@gmail.com

Mark McCombs
President and Founder 
Renaissance Jax Inc. 

(904)616-9869

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jacksonville Small Business Community Poised to set Guinness World Record.

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It certainly got our attention when we found out the Brian Barquilla and a host of others were attempting to set a world record in speed networking. This is quite an opportunity for Jacksonville to "Put one in the books". The best part is that all of us can get in on this! The event will be held Wednesday, April 1st at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium from 2:30p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Brian stopped long enough to answer a few questions about this historic attempt.
How did you come up with this idea? 
It started as a personal goal of being a Guinness World Record Holder. No real reason, just because... and to make conversation at cocktail parties. I wanted that plaque on my wall and didn't care much of what it was for. Over the years I started to think more about it, and at the same time, I realized that I wanted to do something more significant than setting a record for growing out my fingernails or how many t-shirts I can wear at the same time.  After some research, I found the world record for the largest business speed networking event. The current record was 487 people and it sounded beatable to me.  So I started chatting about it with some of my business contacts and was encouraged by the support. At that point, it stopped being about me and started being about our whole business community.
Sponsors started to sign on like the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Logo Nation, Florida Times Union, Astadia, Predictive Results, Freedom Boat Club, LogoNation . Axia Public Relations, Interchanges, Jacksonville Chapter of the American Marketing Association. and of course, my company Advantage Business Magazine.   Its been very cool to see these companies get involved and see value in this one time only event.  Our goal now is to make "Jacksonville the most business friendly city in the world." Setting this record will go a long way to prove it
 How does a record like that become certified?

 
Guinness Officials (with their British/Irish accents)  will be at the event to be sure that the guidelines are followed. Participants with get a numbered wristband. This is how we know exactly how many people are in the room. When we hit that magic number, we will begin the actual speed networking. Once complete, Guinness will make the official announcement and  take the pictures. That's when the party starts. Come to think of it, I may be late into the office the next the day.
 
What can people expect?

 
Expect a whirlwind of activity, It starts as a business expo and there will be booths to visit. Its a light hearted event that is as much about entertainment as it is about business. Above all expect to call yourself a Guinness World Record Holder! How many people can say that!
 
What should people bring?

 
Bring lots of business cards. I recommended at least 50. Don't be that person that "just ran out." It might be a good idea to practice that elevator pitch too before the event too.  
 
Who is involved in helping make this happen?

 
I have to specifically credit Dolly Penland, Anne Urban, Jason Mudd, Marjorie Comer and Al Emerick for their hard work and resources. This is a FREE community event with just volunteers.
How do you register?

We absolutely need to get people to www.JaxWorldRecord.com and have them "Take the pledge" This is our RSVP system that allows us to begin to satisfy some of the Guinness requirements. From there we will communicate mostly through email to build anticipation an excitement for the magical day.  The best part is that it's FREE!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Save the Date! Small Business Week will be celebrated on May 28



One of the highlights of the year is coming up on May 28 at the Adam Herbert University Center. Show your support for small businesses at the 23rd Annual Small Business Week Celebration. The U.S. Small Business Administration will present its coveted Small Business Week awards spotlighting the outstanding contributions of North Florida business leaders and champions at the district level. The U.S. SBA will also recognize North Florida’s top SBA Lenders with awards for significant participation in the 7(a) and 504 Loan programs.

About the Speaker
Lisa Nicole Bell is the founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a Los Angeles-based content development and production firm that works with a diverse cross-section of high profile startups and Fortune 500 brands throughout the US and abroad. Lisa has spoken at national and international universities, conferences, and events including TEDx, UCLA, Google, USC, and South by Southwest (SXSW). Her past business ventures include startups in technology and content. After launching her first company at 19 years old, she later started a for-profit social enterprise that reached more than 400,000 girls around the world.  In addition to hearing Bell’s remarks, you will see local entrepreneurs and champions receive the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Week Awards.

This event is sponsored by the SBDC at UNF, TD Bank and SunTrust Bank. To learn more or to register, go to www.sbdc.unf.edu/sbw.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Husband and Wife Bring New Life to Resort with Help of FSBDC at UNF


Crystal Cove Resort and Marina was purchased by Kelly and Whitney Redford in January of 2012. The Redford’s sold their previous business back in Kentucky and decided to relocate to Palatka Florida, living the dream of owning a Marina Facility.

The establishment had 54 hotel rooms, a full service restaurant with over 150 seats, 45 boats slips, 35 dry storage units and was generally considered an eyesore of the community. The Redford’s, with a newborn, a vision, and not being strangers to hard work, began turning the facility around, making many updates and upgrades to the property, investing much time and money, slowly turning it back into a respectable Resort facility. 

In September 2013, they found themselves becoming the operator of the restaurant. They realized, never being restaurateurs,  this was one area that they needed assistance in and reached out to the FSBDC at UNF Putnam County office to obtain some marketing advice from Consultant Cheryl Lynch.

“Not only did we receive guidance on how to market the restaurant, but also how to operate the restaurant more efficiently. This was invaluable because Cheryl also assisted us with finding a restaurateur to take over the operations and it made the transition seamless,” says Kelly.

The Redford’s quickly realized how valuable the services of the FSBDC are, and had Cheryl review the operations of the entire business. “She assisted us in identifying ways to grow our business, obtain financing for a specific project, guided us through a strategic plan, and assisted with getting the Marina Bait and Tackle Store and the Marina CafĂ© open.”

“Sometimes business owners spend so much time working in the business it is hard for them to work on the business,” says Lynch. “ Enabling the Redford’s to be able to step back, identify problems and implement strategies and solutions are what the FSBDC is here for.”

“If we had only realized sooner what the FSBDC could assist us with, we would have had Cheryl with us from the very first day,” says Whitney. “The confidential, no cost consulting provided by Cheryl and her FSBDC at UNF team, has improved our business in countless ways. I can’t imagine where we would be without her help.”


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Affordable Care Act – A Human Resources Consultant’s Perspective

Quite a few years ago, I was working with a few clients during their annual healthcare coverage negotiations.  These companies paid between 75% and 100% of the premium for single coverage and between 50% and 75% for family coverage for their employees.  They treated them well. 

When the all insurance companies came in with between 30% to 50% increases, it was heartbreaking to see those same business owners stare into space with sticker shock trying to figure out how the company and the employees would be able to afford to have medical insurance.  So, like every business that is questioning costs, my company did an analysis of the employees who signed up for medical coverage.  What we found was that a great majority of the employees under 40 years old opted out of the coverage.  The employees with young families and larger expenses said the cost of medical coverage was too high.  Even though the companies paid a great majority of the premiums, the deductibles and other out of pocket expenses caused employees in this age bracket to do without coverage.

We also found that people who had medical issues signed up for the insurance coverage. They had no choice but to pay a higher price.  Since the healthier employees with little or no claims opted out of the coverage, the resultant claims were higher than the premiums paid – year after year after year.  Insurance companies lost money and had to raise the premiums - causing more people to opt out of coverage - resulting in high loss ratios - resulting in higher premiums – I think you get the drift. 

The downward spiral was out of control. 

It suddenly occurred to me that small businesses – those with between 50 and 150 employees and the lifeblood of the United States economy, would soon be in jeopardy of becoming priced out of the healthcare marketplace.  This inability to provide medical insurance to their employees would place these business people at a disadvantage in recruiting and retaining employees. 
Fast forward to present day, and we now have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It is imperative that small businesses understand the reporting requirements, method of determining the size of their workforce, and tax credits. Additionally, as the ACA is put in to place, the inevitable  changes will occur during implementation. This can be a bit burdensome and difficult to keep up with for smaller businesses. 

It is a concern for many industries. Including lawyers, accountants, benefits brokers, human resources professionals to stay on top of any changes or updates to the ACA.

As it stands now in 2015, only those companies with more than 100 full time equivalent employees have to comply by offering medical coverage to their employees.  Currently, a full time employee is one who works 30 hours or more per week on a regular basis. However, of significant note, is the US House of Representatives just passed a bill increasing this to 40 hours per week.  But keep in mind, we have to wait to see how the Senate votes and whether the President will sign the bill if is passed by the Senate. Employers with 50 or more employees will be required to offer coverage in 2016.  However, that may change. We will just have to wait and see. 

Employers under 50 employees will not have to offer coverage – ever – at least under current regulations.  Aside from the obvious recruitment and retention advantages of offering medical coverage to employees, there may be great tax advantages for a small employer to offer medical benefits to their employees.  On the other hand, it may be less expensive for employers to get coverage through the exchange.  Employees may qualify for tax credits if they obtain medical coverage through the exchange.  Business owners must conduct an analysis to determine their best option. 

At this point, we know what we have to do to comply today.  We don’t know what the future will bring. Stay tuned.


Bob McKenzie

President, McKenzieHR

With over 30 years of human resource management experience, Bob’s background includes a wide range of hands-on HR practices including training and development, Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action Plan Development, development of performance management and compensation systems, recruitment, employee relations, union avoidance and labor contract negotiations. His working experience encompasses a wide range of industries. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FSBDC at UNF Client of the Month: Optimum Spring Solutions

When Optimum Spring Solutions was established in 2007, owners Andrea de Palma and Marco Fortini had years of experience in the business because of their involvement with de Palma’s family who had been manufacturing springs in Argentina since 1970. The company, located in Ponte Vedra, manufactures compression, extension, torsion springs, and spring conduits composed of specialty alloy wire suitable for operating under high temperatures and in corrosive environments.  Additionally, Optimum Spring Solutions delivers design assistance, rapid prototyping, sampling, and delivery planning to offer the highest quality and most precise product. 

In the early days of their business, Andrea and Marco imported their goods from Argentina, but shipping delays, rising cost of gas, and securing a large contract from the US Navy prompted them to begin manufacturing for export in St. Johns County in 2009. The business has grown steadily since then, with about 20% annual sales growth over the past three years.  Andrea and Marco own and operate the company, employing two additional personnel to support manufacturing and order fulfillment. 

After experiencing a few years of successful business, Andrea and Marco decided it was time to strategically grow their company.  They decided that exporting was the way to go. 
Optimum Spring Solutions had been exporting throughout Asia, The Americas, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, and Turkey, but it was more reactive in nature and resulted in unpredictable sales volume. They wanted to identify stronger foreign markets that would generate large recurring orders of specialty alloys springs.  Additionally, they wanted to develop international expertise, whether in-house or through a team of outside experts, in order to ensure long-term success in international sales.  This includes solving existing export questions, creating support strategies for international clients and providing education to key staff members. 

They heard of the FSBDC at UNF and enrolled in the International Trade Certificate Program (ITCP), a six-week series designed for small and mid-size businesses interested in exporting goods or services. During this program, attendees learn the steps to become competent in all trade aspects including marketing, documentation, payment and legal matters.  Using the information they learned from the ITCP, the team from Optimum Spring Solutions began to focus on exporting their product.
In early 2014, Andrea and Marco returned to the FSBDC to meet with Katie Arroyo, International Trade Specialist.  They were interested in an Export Marketing Plan (EMP), a program provided by the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with Enterprise Florida, Inc. and the U.S. Commercial Service.  Participants in the EMP program are qualified Florida manufacturers and service providers who are interested in overseas growth strategies. A customized EMP is written by the International Trade Specialist at the FSBDC.  A limited number of EMPs are available and are the result of a confidential, in-depth business assessment.

The EMP uncovered a potential buyer in Finland, and the partnership with Enterprise Florida is helping build the connection.  Another result of the EMP was the need for a revamped website to cater to an international audience and to generate qualified leads.   Andrea and Marco met with FBSDC Consultant Jared Bailey, who provided a personalized Search Engine Optimization Report to help the duo understand how to increase their company’s online presence. 


 In addition to the EMP, Marco and Andrea attended FSBDC workshops including: “Hire your first employee”,” Build your brand DIY Workshop”, and “Entrepreneur’s Roundtable Forum-LinkedIn:  How to generate leads”.  Each workshop offered information and resources to help them more effectively run their company.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Affordable Care Act: What a CPA wants you to know


This year we add new Affordable Care Act (ACA) forms to the tax filing process. This change isn’t minor—for many, your 1040 will include the filing of Form 8962 or 8965—or both— and it isn’t voluntary. Under the ACA, your 2014 income tax return is the tool you’ll use to report your compliant health insurance coverage.

2014 Changes Affecting Individuals
  •          For individuals with qualified group insurance coverage at work, which includes all of your household members, check the box stating you’re in compliance.
  •          Checking the box also applies to those with any myriad government-issued plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, VA, TRICARE, etc.
  •          If you’re covered with a personal policy that carries “minimum essential coverage” (MEC), then you’re good as well.
  •          If you’re covered by a plan purchased through a state exchange you’re also OK…but there’s likely more work involved while preparing your return. If you qualified for a subsidy during your purchase, watch for an interesting reconciliation on your return to determine your settlement with the IRS (that is, whether you received too much or too little advanced financial help).
  •          If you or other members of your household received multiple sources of insurance—or if you lacked coverage for two or more months in the tax year—you must supply the IRS with the information needed to determine if you’re liable for a “shared responsibility payment,” otherwise known as a penalty.
  •         This penalty ranges from $95 per person to 1% of your gross income, whichever is greater. The penalty will rise in 2015 and beyond, so know your options and insured status to lessen your aggravation in complying with this new requirement. You may even qualify for one of the laundry list of other exceptions. For more information, a slightly more detailed explanation exists in “Profit Statements,” on our website: www.CPAsite.com under Helpful Resources tab, labeled Profit Statements.
2014 Changes Affecting Business
  •          The business side of the ACA depends on the number of your full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. If you employ fewer than 50 FTE’s (loosely based on a 30-hour week definition), you aren’t required to offer a group plan compliant with the MEC definitions (or which qualifies as grandfathered).
  •          If you do offer a group plan, you must ensure it’s not discriminatory. Most group insurance providers will not write a discriminatory policy, but it can happen.
  •          Potential tax credits exist for small employer premiums, but we find few employers qualify.
  •          The requirements are much higher for employers with 50 or more FTE employees, including a likely penalty of up to $3,000 per non-covered employee. You may find that penalty less costly than the premiums for your staff, but premiums are deductible expenses and the “shared responsibility payment” is not.
You face a $100 penalty per day for a non-compliant plan, so this fine isn’t small potatoes. Further, medical reimbursement plans, even premium-only plans—other than those with a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account— generally are classified as non-compliant plans, and also subject to that daily penalty.

Typical group insurance plans, however, are generally just fine. Companies with a single employee—not part of a group of closely held companies—shouldn’t experience a problem either, but the official guidance is still very weak.

Section 125 “Cafeteria” plans should be OK when the business includes premiums for add-on policies such as vision, dental, cancer, etc. IF an underlying group health plan exists. Please contact us for more information if you’re affected, because the penalties are too high to ignore.

We’re in this ACA Boat Together
These additional ACA forms and provisions will add to your return preparation a bit, require more work and perhaps incur slightly more cost to complete your return. But it’s one of the final Affordable Care Act paradigm shifts of the last nearly five years. We’re all in this together and your Patrick & Robinson CPAs crew is always here to help you stay on course.


About the Author: Mark Patrick has amassed thirty-five plus years of public accounting experience with four different CPA firms, with the last twenty-five of those years as either partner or stockholde, most recently Patrick and Robinson, CPAs.  Mr. Patrick received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and a Master of Science degree in Business Administration, and has taken further post graduate classes.  He is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Society of Tax Professionals, Small Business Resource Network, and his firm is the only member in Jacksonville of CPAConnect, a national association of CPA firms. To learn more about Patrick and Robinson CPAs, go to www.cpasite.com.