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Tax Codes

changes in tax codes – what you need to know

Tax changes are coming. 

Have you prepared for the changes that may begin at the end of the year? If you haven’t started thinking about it already, it’s about that time.

Here are a few of the proposed changes that are looking to go into effect starting next year. 

Income Tax Changes

 

Your tax liability might be at risk to change, although it all depends on your current financial situation. Some of the main changes will affect your bottom line. For example, if your income exceeds $400,000, then you are likely to be impacted.

Along with higher tax rates, itemized deductions will also be prevalent in tax code changes. The proposed changes include a $10,000 limit on local and state taxes. 

Carried Interest Tax Changes

The last time carried interest tax changes were drastically changed was in 2017. It looks like there will be more change coming. Some lawmakers introduced the “Carried Interest Fairness Act of 2021” which if passed, would “tax carried interest at ordinary income tax rates and treat it as wages subject to employment taxes.” 

Capital Gains Tax Changes

The proposed changes would increase the applicable tax to a higher marginal income rate. This would conclude with the total being 43.4% on long-term capital gains. 

Estate & Gift Tax Changes

President Biden has proposed that the current Estate & Tax Changes that are meant to extend until 2026 be looked at closely. 

How to know if these tax changes will affect you?

If you are a business owner or individual whose income is above $400,000 then odds are you will be affected by these tax changes. 

Increased tax rates will mean it’s hard to know how much you’re paying to insure your business. Learn what the general costs are for your business.  READ ON… 

orange umbrella above regular black ones

how much should I pay to insure my business?

With insurance costs rising, you may be looking at your insurance costs wondering how much you should really be paying in insurance. This largely depends on your industry and the risks associated with your particular business, however, there are some standards that help give you a rough estimate!

Typically business owners spend between 1-3% of their revenue on insurance coverage. A lower-risk business might be closer to the 1% range, whereas a higher-risk business would be around 3%.  The highest-risk businesses can invest as much as 5% of their annual revenue in insurance coverage to offset the possibility of catastrophic losses.

The risk factors that contribute to higher insurance costs include: 

Your Industry

Each industry has an inherent level of risk associated with it. These different levels of risk play a large role in defining your costs. The details of how you run your business can also affect your business insurance costs. If you’re a restaurant allowing your customers to cook their own food (think Korean BBQ), you may have more risk than a typical restaurant owner.

Your Expertise

Insurance carriers view business owners with more experience as being in a lower-risk category. Typically you’ll be asked how many years you’ve been in business, what level of education you have, and what your employee’s qualifications are. More highly educated workforces are likely to be assumed to be lower-risk to an actuary at a carrier. 

Your Revenue

Growing your business can cause your insurance costs to grow. Higher revenue leads to more customers, more square footage, and more employees, which, in turn, increases your risk. In addition to the workers’ compensation costs that would of course increase, operational complexity adds to risk, the more hands, the greater the risk of someone getting hurt or something going wrong.  

Your Business Location

Where you work plays a large role in your insurance premiums. The more square footage you have, the physical condition of your building, and the physical location of your business (flood zones, high crime rate, fault lines, etc.) lead to higher costs and an assessment of being a higher-risk company. 

One recent factor that has been raising the costs to insure businesses is changing fire zones. If your business is located in a high-risk fire area, then your insurance is going to be more expensive.  As climate change increases the areas considered high-risk fire zones, many businesses that did not have this increased rate adjustment are seeing their costs rise.  This is true for any external impact (flood zones, high crime rate, fault lines), with the higher risk there will be higher costs for your business. 

Your Employees

The number of employees you have may lead to higher insurance premiums. With more employees, you may need to invest in various different types of insurance, like Workers Compensation, Errors and Omissions, and General Liability. Your insurance premiums can also depend on the positions of your employees. Qualified ALEs will necessarily have different requirements, risks, and costs than Small Business Owners. 

Your Chosen Policy

The more policies you add, the higher your premiums. The nature of your business may determine which policies you need to invest in, other times it can be up to you. AS you assess what coverage you need be aware of what a catastrophic loss would do to your business, your personal finances, and your company’s ability to operate.  Cyber coverage was often overlooked before the recent wave of ransomware attacks, now, business owners are actively looking at their data vulnerabilities. 

Your Prior Claims history

Lastly, your claims history has a large impact on your insurance premiums. If your company has a long history of filing claims for loss or damage, insurance companies will charge higher premiums to cover the risk of insuring your business. If you are looking for ways to reduce your premiums, there are risk-reducing operational steps you can put in place. 

Has your insurance increased this year? Learn why with Benchmark’s Rob Cohen.  READ MORE HERE

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

executive protection to guard your balance sheet

Executive protection is a necessary investment for companies to survive. This important balance sheet protection tool can be the difference between survival or peril in today’s litigious environment. 

As you look to protect your business from executive risk, it’s important to understand the different types of risk associated with it. Executive protection is broken down into different categories.

Here’s a breakdown of what Executive Protection covers.

Employee Practices

Employment practices can mean numerous things: wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments. 

Within the main categories listed above, there are many subcategories that have proven to be a risk. For example, an employee could file an EPLI for emotional negligence. 

There are many factors that are increasing liability risk for 2021. With most offices returning to in-person work environments, the risk runs even greater. 

COVID-19

COVID brings another element to potential ELPI claims. Some of the potential situations that could occur with returning to the office or adopting a hybrid model include: 

  • An employee feels emotional neglect for having a hard transition to in-person work after working from home for a year.
  • Employees might feel that higher-ups have conducted the health and safety aspect of COVID-19 at a lower standard.
  • An employee refuses to follow new guidelines and regulations stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • An employee returns to the office and contracts COVID-19 from a co-worker.

These examples only begin to predict what could happen in the future. 

Fiduciary 

Based on the law passed in 1974, there are regulations that businesses must have as baseline coverage for all employees. If these basic guidelines are neglected, then there’s a liability risk. Some examples of failing to meet guidelines might include: 

  • Improper enrollment or terminations
  • Resulting in lost or incorrect benefits
  • Errors in counseling when administering health or welfare plans
  • Resulting in lost or incorrect benefits
  • Giving poor or negligent advice on investing employees’ retirement plans
  • Making risky investments in a defined benefit pension plan
  • Wrongful denial or improper change in benefits
  • Imprudent selection of and/or monitoring or third-party service providers

There are other terminologies that are thrown around in the workplace, like Errors and Omissions (E&O) that follow similar guidelines. 

Media

Media liability coverage protects the insured against claims arising out of the gathering and communication of information and is critical to any media organization. The variety of claims being asserted against the media, and the size of jury verdicts against media organizations, are constantly on the increase. 

According to data released by the Libel Defense Resource Center, the median jury award against media organizations in 1990 was $500,000; in 1997, it was $2.3 million. 

Cyber and Tech

Cyberwarfare is not just for meddling in elections and extorting multinational corporations. Companies of all sizes and types can fall victim to enterprising hackers and cyber extortionists. The question all companies must ask themselves is not “what is my data worth to someone else?” but “what is my data worth to me?” Of course, well-crafted IT protections are a crucial first line of defense, but if the protections fail, could your company shoulder the cost of an uncovered claim or ransom payment?

Cyber insurance coverage is likely broader, less expensive, and more crucial to your business than you would think. 

Trade Credit

Another fancy term is trade credit. This can basically be broken down to the idea that trade credit protects manufacturers, traders, and service providers against losses from non-payment of commercial trade debt due to bankruptcy, insolvency, or very late payments.

Intellectual Property

IP insurance covers companies for the legal costs associated with pursuing infringement or theft of IP. It also covers legal defense costs for policyholders accused of IP infringement or theft. There are two basic types of IP insurance:

Infringement Defense: Covers policyholders for infringement claims brought against them.

Abatement Enforcement: Gives the insured the financial resources to enforce their IP rights and pursue infringement claims.

In today’s increasingly perilous and litigious business environment, every company faces risk. It is unfortunate that any of your company’s many constituents—including employees, investors, customers, suppliers, competitors, government agencies, and creditors—pose a financial risk to your business. Any one of them, however, could sue your company or target it for criminal activity.

As you look to protect your business from these potential threats, enlist the help of an insurance mentor. At Benchmark, we invest in our clients’ protection and we aim to ensure your business remains risk-free. Reach out to us today to start a conversation about your business’ risk!

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet

Executive Protection to Guard your Balance Sheet