HR & Compliance

Add SBAM offers a full spectrum of human resources services to keep you compliant and help your business run more efficiently and profitably....

Human Resources Solutions

ASE LogoLooking for help with tough HR issues? 

SBAM partner ASE has the answers about hiring, firing, FMLA, ADA and more! Get access to a FREE HR hotline, affordable and cost-effective research consultation services, discounted employee handbooks and workplace posters, and more.

Section 125 Plan, FSA, HSA & HRA Administration


KUSHNER & COMPANY LogoLooking for ways to contain health care costs?
With the cost of health insurance continuing to rise, most employers require their employees to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. SBAM partner Kushner & Co. can help you put a tax-favored, consumer-directed plan in place that benefits you and your employees.


COBRA Administration

Personalized, affordable administration for your business. 

If you have 20 or more employees, your company is required by federal law to offer continued health insurance coverage via COBRA and will face huge fines if it's not administered correctly.  Let SBAM help you stay compliant for only $30 per month. 

Get great tips for small business success! Listen to our free Business Next audio seminar

HR expert Julie Mann discusses how to help job seekers fit in to small business job opportunities; Rob Trube, author of the business planning book “The Simple Focus Plan”; Athena Trentin, program director of the Global Talent Retention Initiative, discusses the role of talented immigrants in growing Michigan’s small business economy; Shelley Lowe, director of career services of Davenport University, talks about training resources for complying with state and federal regulations; James Muffett on the Student Statesmanship Institute Business Track program.

Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL.      

Is Your Ex Going to Inherit Your 401(k) Plan Account? Are You Sure?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

There have been tragic stories about people forgetting to update their retirement plan or life insurance beneficiaries after a life-changing event. It is not uncommon for retirement plan assets to go to the ex-spouse instead of the current spouse, noted Kim Saunders, a tax analyst for Thomson Reuters. There are a few simple steps that retirement plan participants can take to make sure they aren't part of this story.

"Most of us in the U.S. are on the go from early in the morning until well into the evening-six or seven days a week," said Saunders. "It's no surprise that we may let some important things slide. We know we need to get to them, but it seems like they can just as easily wait until tomorrow or the next day or whenever."

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision reminds us that "whenever" might never arrive and the results can sometimes be tragic, noted Saunders. The case involved a $400,000 employer-sponsored retirement account, owned by William, who had named Liv as his beneficiary back in 1974, shortly after they married. The couple divorced 20 years later in 1994. As part of the divorce decree, Liv waived her rights to benefits under William's employer-sponsored retirement plans. However, William never got around to changing his beneficiary designation form with his employer.

When William died in 2001, Liv was still listed as his beneficiary; therefore the plan paid the $400,000 to Liv. William's estate sued the plan, saying that because of Liv's waiver in the divorce decree, the funds should have been paid to the estate. The Court disagreed, ruling that the plan documents (which called for the beneficiary to be designated and changed in a specific way) trumped the divorce decree. William's designation of Liv as his beneficiary was handled in the way the plan required, Liv's waiver was not. Therefore, the plan rightfully paid the $400,000 to Liv.

The tragic outcome of this case was largely controlled by its unique facts. If the facts had been slightly different (such as the plan allowing a beneficiary to be designated on a document other than the plan's beneficiary form), the outcome could have been quite different. However, it still would have taken a lot of effort and expense to get there.

This leads to a couple of important take away points. "The first is that if a plan participant wants to change the beneficiary for a life insurance policy, retirement plan, IRA, or other benefit, he or she needs to use the plan's official beneficiary form rather than depending on an indirect method such as a will or divorce decree," said Saunders. "The second point is that it is important to keep beneficiary designations up-to-date. Whether it is because of divorce or another life-changing event, beneficiary designations made years ago can easily become outdated."

Taxpayers should consult with a personal tax adviser before applying these or other tax strategies.

Tax Records: What Can You Throw Away?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

Maybe it's a good thing that the April 17th federal tax deadline coincides with the urge to spring clean. It feels good to throw out some of the financial records stuffing your filing cabinets. But before you head for the dumpster, make sure you're not disposing of records you may need. You don't want to be caught empty-handed if an IRS auditor contacts you.

Important:  Before tossing out financial documents, shred them thoroughly. Identity thieves can obtain account numbers and other data by rummaging through trash.

In general, you must keep records that support items shown on your individual tax return until the statute of limitations runs out -- generally, three years from the due date of the return or the date you filed, whichever is later. That means that now you can generally throw out records for the 2008 tax year, for which you filed a return in 2009.

In most cases, the IRS can audit your return for three years. You can also file an amended return on Form 1040X during this time period if you missed a deduction, overlooked a credit or misreported income.

So, does that mean you're safe from an audit after three years? Not necessarily. There are exceptions. For example:
  • If the IRS has reason to believe your income was understated by 25 percent or more, the statute of limitations for an audit increases to six years.
  • If there is suspicion of fraud or you don't file a tax return at all, there is no time limit for the IRS.
How Long to Keep Documents

Like most issues involving the IRS or other government agencies, there's no easy answer to that question. The IRS does not require you to keep records in any particular way. But here are some basic guidelines to follow for individuals (Guidelines for businesses are in the right-hand chart):

Completed tax returns. Many tax advisers recommend that you hold onto copies of your finished tax returns forever. Why? So you can prove to the IRS that you actually filed. Even if you don't keep the returns indefinitely, you should hang onto them for at least six years after they are due or filed, whichever is later.

Backup records. Any written evidence that supports figures on your tax return, such as receipts, expense logs, bank notices and sales records, should generally be kept for at least the three-year period.

Exceptions. There are some cases when taxpayers get more than the usual three years to file an amended return. You have up to seven years to take deductions for bad debts or worthless securities, so don't toss out records that could result in refund claims for those items.

Real estate records. Keep these for as long as you own the property, plus three years after you dispose of it and report the transaction on your tax return. Throughout ownership, keep records of the purchase, as well as receipts for home improvements, relevant insurance claims, and documents relating to refinancing. These help prove your adjusted basis in the home, which is needed to figure the taxable gain at the time of sale, or to support calculations for rental property or home office deductions.

Securities. To accurately report taxable events involving stocks and bonds, you must maintain detailed records of purchases and sales. These records should include dates, quantities, prices, dividend reinvestment, and investment expenses, such as broker fees. Keep these records for as long as you own the investments, plus the statute of limitations on the relevant tax returns.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs

New survey shows Michigan’s public universities embrace entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial degrees, classes, clubs and competitions are springing up at all 15 Michigan public universities, a new survey by the Michigan Sense of Place Council shows, as higher education institutions react to the state’s changing economy. The Council is a public-private collaborative that supports development of places with a quality of life that attracts talented people and entrepreneurs and that can compete in a global marketplace.

“It’s pretty phenomenal how much has begun happening in a short period of time,” said Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and chair of the Council’s entrepreneurship committee. “It seems like it’s happening all over the state. Much of it is student led, but it includes entrepreneurship degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level, helping companies in their communities through venture capital funds and incubators, and student clubs and companies.”

For more than a decade, SBAM has been a leader in pushing for more entrepreneurial education and opportunities on college campuses, working with state, university and business leaders to increase the awareness of the importance of entrepreneurs as the state moves away from its longstanding dependence on the traditional automotive economy.

The survey by the Sense of Place Council of entrepreneurial opportunities on public university campuses in Michigan was conducted by Public Policy Associates, Inc. (PPA) of Lansing. Jeffrey D. Padden, president of PPA, said the Sense of Place Council regards cultivation of entrepreneurial spirit as critical to creating vibrant regions, downtowns, and neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and open businesses.

“This survey showed that in recent years, all sorts of entrepreneurial activities have exploded on campuses across the state. Michigan’s universities are well on the way to creating truly entrepreneurial campuses,” said Mr. Padden. “Small businesses, started by risk takers prepared for major challenges, are vital to any successful community, particularly our downtowns. Entrepreneurs can drive the rebirth of Michigan’s cities, creating the exciting, livable neighborhoods that attract young talent. Universities are doing their part to fill that pipeline.”

Michael A. Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan, which represents the 15 public universities, said universities have heard state leaders ask for entrepreneurial programs, and have responded with a variety of opportunities for students as well as those already in business. “We have professors mentoring entrepreneur clubs, upper level classes on evaluation of risk, university sponsored incubators and more. Michigan’s universities are taking the lead in ensuring those who are interested in launching a startup—or bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to their current workplace—have the tools to do so.”

Highlights of the survey results include:

More academic programs: At least 10 Michigan universities have entrepreneurial degree programs. Several have added majors or minors within colleges of business in recent years, while others have expanded their course offerings for all students.

At Michigan State University, the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management's specialization in entrepreneurship combines core business disciplines with experiential assignments in which students work with entrepreneurs to solve real-world problems.

Entrepreneur magazine ranks Central Michigan University's program in the top 26 of all regional programs nationwide. Grand Valley State University is developing a new double major in business and entrepreneurship.

Universities are also encouraging entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines. Saginaw Valley State University, for instance, offers a minor in entrepreneurship for all students in addition to its entrepreneur concentration in the MBA progr