Meet Christina Immelman
A Kansas native, this is
Christina’s first year at
Sikich. Find out how this
tax partner is connected to
bookbinderies, South Africa
and the Rolling Stones.
What I like most about Sikich: The multifunctional teams. It is fun to go to market
with non-CPAs. It is also a distinguishing
factor for Sikich to be able to offer a variety
of professional services to our clients.
Organizations I belong to: I am a board
member for Choose DuPage, a member of
the Federal Tax Committee for the Chicago
Tax Club, a planning committee member for
the Morton Arboretum, and a member of
the Illinois CPA Society and the AICPA.
Partner at Sikich LLP
My first job was: Babysitting for a neighbor
when I was 10 years old. From there, I went
to work in a bookbindery. There are not too
many bookbinderies left in the U.S., but that
one still exists in my hometown.
In another life, I would be: Working on
Wall Street. The excitement and stress has
to be very energizing.
of the Qtr.
Estate planning is complicated. It
is crucial to consider several factors
when selecting the best estate planning
strategies for your needs. Who should
inherit your assets? Which assets should
they inherit? When and how should they
inherit these assets?
Estate planning is not only about reducing
taxes, it is an essential part of an overall
plan. There are several strategies you may
use to increase the amount of your estate
that is passed on to your heirs, including
the marital deduction, life insurance, annual
gifting and charitable contributions. For
more information about these strategies
and to gain insights on planning for the
distribution of your assets, download our
Estate Planning Guide at sikich.com/
estate-guide. The guide also touches on
tax planning strategies that may help you
to achieve your estate planning goals at a
lower tax cost.
My favorite place in the world is:
South Africa. You have the game parks,
ocean and mountains all within easy driving
distance. The people are incredibly warm
and friendly, and the country has the best
climate that I have experienced.
Three words that describe me
are: Energetic, results-oriented
playing in my
car. I find travel
time is a great
time to stay
My go-to person for advice is: My
husband. He understands me like no one
else. He is also in professional services,
so he understands some of the challenges
People would be surprised to know
that: I have been chased by a very angry
bull elephant and nearly drowned in
Three things you’ll always find in my
fridge: Garlic, chiles and wine. Anything
can be made flavorful by adding one or all
of these ingredients.
The last book I read:
“Life” by Keith Richards of the
It’s inevitable that I will: Be adventurous.
of the Qtr.
On September 13, 2013, the U.S.
Department of Treasury and the IRS
released final Section 162 and 263(a)
regulations regarding the repair and
capitalization rules for tangible property.
Several of the modifications from the
temporary and proposed regulations are
“taxpayer friendly.” The final regulations went
into effect January 1, and any taxpayer who
owns or leases tangible personal property
will be impacted by these final regulations.
For more information, view the on-demand
webinar, “Adopting the Final Tangible
Property Regulations,” at sikich.com/
According to the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of
34,000 individuals in the U.S. are killed each
year from product safety-related causes. To
assist in counteracting these occurrences, the
International Organization for Standardization
(ISO) has released new guidance. Read more
on this topic at http://bit.ly/iso10377.
of the Qtr.
OF THE QUARTER
Why do I need
Imagine that you spent all night working
on an important client proposal. You
get to the office, work on making it
just perfect and hit the save button
before heading out to lunch. Upon
returning from lunch, you’re ready to
send the proposal—but the document
is completely blank. A professional
cloud backup service can back up data
at specified timing—every 15 minutes,
for instance—so that organizations can
restore data from a precise point in time.
The situation described here happens
every day to organizations worldwide,
yet many are still unfamiliar with the
value cloud backups can provide.
Learn more about the benefits of cloud
backups at http://bit.ly/cloudbackups.
The 2014 Scene
14 Business Trends for the New Year
f you’re like many other business leaders, chances are
that you spent the better part of the last few months
reviewing 2013 goals, assessing your organization’s
performance, examining challenges faced, and
developing new goals for the new year. Just like past
years, 2014 will host its own set of challenges, trends
and issues that will impact your organization. And while
planning for 2014 has likely already
been finalized, there are a number
of hot topics that may surface
throughout the year—and we
recommend learning more about
each so you can be prepared.
On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support
Windows XP, meaning that PCs running on this
system will be without critical updates and patches.
and spam. One option to mitigate this risk is to simply
upgrade to the newest version, but this event is actually
a great opportunity for your organization to re-evaluate
its approach to IT. Solutions such as virtualization,
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, cloud email, thin clients
and more could improve both the efficiency and
effectiveness of your technology. Learn more at
Review Retirement Plans to Mitigate
In the current environment of uncertainty and
increasing taxes, now may be an ideal time to review
your organization’s retirement plans and explore the
possibility of increasing deductible contributions. You
may be able to add or increase
that would be favorable for
key employees without adding
significant cost for rank and
file. It may also be an ideal
time to consider establishing a
Cash Balance pension plan in
addition to a 401(k) plan. Cash
Balance plans could potentially
be designed to add substantial
favoring key employees.
While planning for 2014
has likely already been
finalized, there12 a 13
number of hot topics that
may surface throughout the
year—and we recommend
learning more about each
so you can be prepared.
Thirty-eight to 45 percent of PCs
connected to the Internet are still
on Windows XP, and with this
operating system reaching its end
of life on April 8, 2014, organizations need to develop a
new plan. When a system reaches end of life, it means
that it will no longer be supported. This means that
on April 8, machines using Windows XP will no longer
receive critical updates and patches that protect your
computers and network from malicious malware, viruses
onsider Moving to the Cloud
One common question organizational leaders are
asking right now is: Should we go to the cloud?
According to CIO magazine, one in two mission-critical
applications will be in the cloud by 2015. But there are
a number of important aspects to think about when
considering a move to the cloud. Do you have a need
for increased security levels? How tolerant are you of
downtime? Have you considered the integration of your
current systems and applications? Which parts of your
business would make sense for the cloud? The cloud
is a powerful means to deliver technology, but it’s not
simple. Moving to the cloud is a decision that needs to
make sense for your organization now and in the future.
Learn more at sikich.com/grow/cloud.html.
Develop a Well-Crafted
Even successful business owners often overlook the
need to have a succession plan in place. It’s not easy,
it’s time consuming and it involves many complex
issues. With many Baby Boomers retiring, this year is
a prime time to make important decisions and ensure
your business will continue long after you’re gone—it’s
time to craft a succession plan. There are several steps
you can take to get started. Assemble a team of trusted
advisors who can help you plan. It’s never too early
to begin doing this. Evaluate your options, which can
include passing the keys to a family member, selling
to a partner or buyer, or creating an Employee Stock
Ownership Plan. If you decide that selling is the most
viable option, determine what your business is worth.
Finally, consider tax and other financial implications.
Read more about crafting a succession plan at http://
Defense-in-depth, using multiple layers of security
controls throughout your IT system, is one way to
reduce risk in your network.
Create a BYOD Policy
Ninety-one percent of U.S. citizens are within reach
of a mobile device 24/7. With the rise of mobility,
the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, trend—using
personal mobile devices for business purposes—is
still getting considerable attention. BYOD carries many
opportunities, from improved productivity and happier
employees to saving on up-front costs of mobile devices
for new employees, but there are risks associated with it
as well. Organizational leaders need to consider the risk
in mobile malware, as well as what they can do when
an employee quits or loses his or her device that houses
company data. Without permission, 64 percent of
people in the U.S. use their personal devices for work,
so it is essential to begin thinking about a BYOD policy.
Learn more at sikich.com/byod-whitepaper.
Strategize Your Content Marketing
In the last few years, developing relevant and valuable
content has become a part of many organizations’
marketing plans. In fact, more than 90 percent of
marketers are using content marketing, according to
Content Marketing Institute (CMI). But creating this
content is not only becoming a popular marketing
activity, it’s becoming a necessity for organizations.
It’s more than just a tactic attached to a generalized
marketing plan—it’s strategic. CMI notes that 86
percent of organizations have or plan to have a
dedicated person to oversee the content marketing
strategy, which will aid in the number-one challenge
indicated by these organizations: the lack of time they
are able to dedicate to a strategy. Get your strategy
started by answering the questions at http://bit.ly/
Reinforce with Defense-in-Depth
According to a Kaspersky Lab survey, 91 percent of
organizations directly experienced at least one cyber
threat in the year leading up to the survey. The most
common threats are in the form of viruses, spyware and
other malicious programs, and 31 percent of malware
attacks resulted in data loss. The reality is that you can
never be completely secure, so you want to take actions
that will reduce your risk. You likely want to implement
a defense-in-depth approach, a concept where multiple
layers of security controls are placed throughout your
IT system. These could include antivirus software,
biometrics, firewalls, training and more. Learn more
about defense-in-depth and get six tips to be safer on
the Internet at sikich.com/internet-security-ebook.
Crack Down on Compensation
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) will focus heavily this year on pay
compliance. In fact, over the past two years, the DOL’s
Wage Hour Division hired 350 new investigators with
the goal of uncovering more wage and hour violations.
Common violations include employing minors who work
prohibited duties or too many hours, not paying minimum
wage, not paying overtime to part-time employees, etc.
Fines and penalties may go back two years—sometimes
three years, if the violation is found as willful. Furthermore,
organizations get penalties for each occurrence—not
each worker. So, when one part-time worker has
not been paid owed overtime from five instances,
organizations may expect five separate penalties.
Properly Classify Your Workers
Another common wage and hour violation is the
misclassification of workers. There are two types of
misclassification: exempt v. non-exempt and employees
v. independent contractors. Any time a worker is paid
hourly, he or she is considered non-exempt, thus eligible
for overtime (see #13: Compensation). To clarify further,
consider the “Duties Test”:
� hat is the relative importance of the worker’s
The 2014 Scene
� ow much time is spent performing exempt work?
� ow much freedom does a worker have from
To determine whether a worker should be classified as
an independent contractor, you can look at the degree
of control and independence they have while working for
your organization. Does the worker have the experience
and training necessary to step into the position? Does
the worker have his or her own tools and equipment?
Does the worker have other clients who pay him or
her for similar work? Does the worker have a written
contract with the organization? If you answered yes to
these, he or she is likely an independent contractor.
Learn more at http://bit.ly/misclassify.
Terminate Risky Business
When organizations continue to use disparate or old
enterprise resource planning and financial solutions,
reaching long-term success—or even just surviving—
can be a significant challenge. Using these can also
affect your organization’s ability to adjust as market
demands change and keep up with competition. You
can determine if your organization is at risk with your
current system by asking six questions:
Organizations should properly classify their workers
(exempt v. non-exempt; employee v. independent
contractor) in order to avoid penalties.
1. Are your systems dependent on one or two key
2. Is it difficult to incorporate new technologies into
3. Is it unlikely that your business could support new
compliance or regulatory requirements?
4. Is your data stored in silos so all employees do not
have access to key information?
5. Does accessing key information require IT support?
6. Does an executive’s request for information disrupt
the entire organization?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, your
organization is at a moderate to severe level of risk
associated with disparate systems. Learn more at
Connect with Customers
Whether you have 10 or 10,000 individuals in your
organization, a customer relationship management,
or CRM, solution can help better manage future
growth and profitability. The new version of Microsoft
Dynamics CRM, for example, should make marketers
around the world happier, as it focuses on engaging
with customers. According to Bob Stutz, corporate vice
president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, customers are
60 percent through the sales cycle before they contact
a company they are researching, which “magnifies the
importance of marketing.” Luckily, Microsoft Dynamics
CRM 2013 has new features that will benefit both the
sales and marketing teams, including an improved
dashboard, enhanced social collaboration, a new
marketing automation solution and more. Learn more
Qualify for RD Tax Credits
We have worked with several clients in various industries
to obtain significant federal and state tax credits
for research and development (RD) expenditures.
Companies in many industries can qualify, and one
doesn’t even need to be inventing new products—
modifying an existing product or improving a process
can qualify. Additionally, organizations can go back three
years and file amended tax returns to claim the credit.
For more details on the RD tax credit, visit http://bit.
Companies in many industries can
qualify [for RD tax credits], and one
doesn’t even need to be inventing new
products—modifying an existing product
9 10 12
or improving a process 11 qualify. 13
click-through arrangement. However, New York law
compels ABC to collect the New York tax from the New
York purchasers. At this time, approximately half of the
states have a click-through nexus law in place. The
Illinois Supreme Court has issued an opinion stating that
the state’s click-through provisions are in violation of the
Federal Internet Tax Freedom Act. Since courts in both
Illinois and New York have issued decisions that are at
odds with one another on the legality of their respective
states’ click-through laws, this matter might eventually
be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Understand Click-Through Nexus
Under a click-through nexus law (also known as the
Amazon law), an Internet seller may have to collect tax
from residents of a state even if its only contact with
the state is a click-through arrangement it has made
with another website whose owner has nexus in said
state. Let’s look at an example: Online Retailer ABC
contracts with Online Retailer XYZ for a click-through
arrangement. XYZ has a presence in New York, but
ABC does not. Through their arrangement, New York
residents click a button on XYZ’s website that takes
them to ABC’s website, where they buy merchandise
at retail price. ABC compensates XYZ a fee for the
Organizations modifying an existing product or
improving a process may qualify for the research
and development tax credit.
Find Relief through the PCC
The Private Company Committee (PCC) was developed
by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
in 2006 to represent all non-public business entities.
In late 2013, the PCC approved its first Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) exceptions for
private companies, and forwarded those exceptions to
FASB for final endorsement. According to the Journal
of Accountancy, the exceptions would allow private
companies to “choose a simplified hedge accounting
approach to their financial reporting when they enter
into interest rate swaps to economically convert their
variable-rate interest payments to fixed-rate interest
payments” and “amortize goodwill acquired in a
business combination.” On November 25, 2013, FASB
endorsed these exceptions that will provide relief for
private companies. �
Advisory services offered through Sikich Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. General securities offered through Triad Advisors, Member FINRA/SIPC.
Team Building Volunteering
Feed My Starving Children
More than 800 million
people in the world don’t
have enough to eat.
Photo courtesy of Feed My Starving Children
Hundreds of volunteers sign up each year
to help combat this global problem through
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a
non-profit organization that provides handpacked meals to hungry children across
the globe. Last month, Sikich’s Internal
Marketing team volunteered at the nonprofit’s Aurora, Ill. location.
“What a gratifying experience Feed My
Starving Children is every time,” said Tea
Kurpalo, marketing coordinator at Sikich.
“You feel leaving like you have directly had
a hand in changing someone’s life—but
they have done much the same for you.”
Photo courtesy of Feed My Starving Children
While at FMSC, the team packed
21 boxes (more than 4,500 meals)
comprised of raw ingredients—soy, rice,
vegetables and a flavoring mix full of
vitamins—that are specifically formulated
for malnourished children. According to
FMSC, 92 percent of total donations to
the organization go directly to the food
program. The meals specifically packed
by the Internal Marketing team will be sent
to Ghana, though many other third-world
countries in need of nutrition also receive
meals from FMSC. �
The Sikich Scoop
Sikich appoints COO
Sikich recently announced that Tom Luken,
CPA has stepped into the position of Chief
Operating Officer for the firm, effective
January 1. As COO, Luken will lead
the firm’s operations, focusing on client
satisfaction, process improvement and
growth, and he will continue to cultivate
and enhance the firm’s unique culture
among all Sikich offices. Previously, Luken
was the partner-in-charge of the firm’s
Milwaukee office. While assuming his new
responsibilities as COO, Luken will remain a
familiar face and continue to drive business
forward in the Milwaukee market. Mark
Sobczak, CPA has succeeded
Luken as partner-in-charge in Milwaukee.
Learn more at sikich.com/luken-coo.
Sikich merges with OBCPA
Effective September 1, Sikich merged
with St. Louis-based public accounting
firm O’Donnell, Bonebrake Co. (OBCPA).
Mark J. O’Donnell, CPA and James M.
Bonebrake, CPA joined Sikich as partners
and brought with them decades of
experience in accounting, audit and tax
services, as well as a team of talented
accountants and auditors. Read more
at sikich.com/obcpa. �
Getting Back to Basics
hen you close your eyes and imagine your
own retirement, what do you see? Most of
us imagine retirement as a happy time; a
reward for a lifetime of hard work, full of possibility and
potential. Many of us look forward to pursuing hobbies
and traveling, while others may see the opportunity to
go back to school or start a new career or business.
We have good reason to see retirement in a positive
light. After all, Americans are living longer, healthier
lives than ever before. In fact, for some of us,
retirement will make up a full third of our lives. Of
course, this also means that our retirement assets will
have to do more for us over a longer period of time.
This makes planning for retirement critical.
Many people assume they can hold off saving for
retirement and make up the difference later, but this
can be a very costly mistake. The further off retirement
is, the more time your investments have the potential
to grow. Waiting too long can make it difficult to catch
up, and only a few years can make a big difference in
how much you will accumulate.
For example, if you invest $3,000 every year starting
when you’re 20 years old, and you retire after age 65, you
will have accumulated almost $680,000 (assuming a 6%
annual growth rate and no tax). If you wait until age 35
to begin stashing away $3,000 annually for retirement,
you will accumulate far less—about $254,000. And if you
wait until age 45 to start saving, you will end up with only
about $120,000 by the time you retire.
Americans are living longer, healthier
lives than ever before. In fact, for
some of us, retirement will make up
a full third of our lives. Of course, this
also means that our retirement assets
will have to do more for us over a
longer period of time.
But all of these numbers and dollar signs beg the
question: How much money do you actually need for
retirement? You may have heard that you should plan
on needing anywhere between 60 and 90 percent of
your pre-retirement income—but what does that mean
to you? Instead of basing your estimate of expenses
on a percentage of your income, focus on your actual
expenses today and think about how they will change
by the time you retire. Consider that:
� our housing costs may decrease if you have paid off
your mortgage before retirement.
� ou will likely pay less in overall taxes—specifically
income and Social Security taxes—once you stop
receiving a paycheck.
� ou may eliminate some costs associated with your
current job, such as commuting, clothing and even
Delivering Innovation Results
� ou will likely pay more in health care costs,
especially if you retire before you qualify for Medicare.
� ou may pay more in general entertainment
expenses, such as dining out.
� f you plan on spending your retirement working
on a hobby or traveling, you will likely pay more for
� epending on the age of your children and/or
parents, you may want to estimate and include
projected costs for their support, education, health
care and/or housing.
Now that you have a sense of how your expenses may
change by the time you retire, it’s time to determine
how much annual income you may be able to count
on during retirement.
Every working individual should receive a statement
from the Social Security Administration (SSA) each
year that estimates your retirement benefits based on
your earnings record. You want to see this statement
to ensure that the information is accurate and
understand how much you can expect to receive in
retirement benefits. If you haven’t received a benefits
estimate, you can request one on the SSA’s website.
The good news is that Social Security will provide a
monthly benefit every month of your retirement, and
the benefit will be periodically adjusted for inflation.
The bad news is that, for most of us, Social Security
alone isn’t going to support the retirement you likely
imagine. For example, an individual born in 1957 who
currently earns $70,000 a year can expect to receive
around $24,000 annually at full retirement age (in
this case, 66 and six months). Of course, your actual
benefits will depend on your work history, earnings
and retirement age.
With few exceptions, many individuals will find a
significant gap between what they think they’ll have
for retirement, and what they think they’ll need. This
gap represents the amount of additional income
needed to make up through savings and investments.
The concepts discussed here are only the tip
of the retirement iceberg. To learn more about
crunching the numbers, how taxes and inflation
come into play, and why insuring your future
is important, download our Retirement Basics
video at sikich.com/retirement-basics. �
Advisory services offered through Sikich Financial, a Registered
Investment Advisor. General securities offered through Triad
Advisors, Member FINRA/SIPC.
ccording to a 2012 Gartner report,
approximately 67 percent of an IT
department’s budget is spent “keeping the
lights on.” When IT departments focus all their
funds just keeping the business afloat, innovation
will suffer. New and exciting changes don’t
happen, efficiency stalls and IT becomes unaligned
with overall business goals. Employees may
become unengaged and organizations may find
it challenging to retain employees.
When organizations get to this point, they
must consider what can be done to do more
than just meet required service levels. In the
past decade, the IT managed service provider
industry has grown tremendously, offering
outsourced IT options that allow organizations
to increase profitability, improve efficiency and
free up internal employees to rediscover
innovation. But the term “outsource” can be a
scary word. Some organizations could consider
embracing a modified outsourcing, or co-sourcing,
model. Explore reasons why at sikich.com/cosourcing-it-whitepaper. �
Finding Job Candidates
via Social Recruiting
The 30-Minute Guide
to Human Resources
In today’s world of recruiting, there is no single source of candidates
anymore and no one process will work for all organizations. But as
recruiters begin searching for quality candidates and as resources may be
limited, hiring managers are more often turning to social media. For more
stats and tips on recruiting, creating effective job descriptions and other
human resources activities, visit sikich.com/hr-guide.
becomes the norm.
ORGANIZATIONS ARE QUICKLY MAKING
THE MOVE TO FIND AND CONTACT JOB
CANDIDATES ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES.
LinkedIn tops all
sites for social
HAVE SUCCESSFULLY HIRED AT LEAST
ONE CANDIDATE THROUGH LINKEDIN.
ARE REGULARLY USING SITES LIKE
HAVE USED TWITTER TO RECRUIT
AND HIRE JOB CANDIDATES.
(96% OF THE WORLD’S
SAY THEY USE SOCIAL
MEDIA TO UNCOVER
REASONS NOT TO
WANT TO FIND OUT
IF THE CONDIDATE
WILL FIT THE
BUT 34% OF THESE
HIRING MANAGERS DID
INCLUDED A CANDIDATE
to view videos.
JOB SEEKERS VIEW POSTINGS THAT
INCLUDE VIDEO ICONS 12% MORE OFTEN
THAN JOB POSTINGS WITHOUT VIDEO.
MOBILE TRAFFIC HAS GROWN BY
1 IN 4 JOB SEEKERS
Mobile aids in
33% OF THESE CASES
SOCIAL MEDIA. IN FACT,
HAVE HIRED QUALIFIED CANDIDATES
NOT HIRE SOMEONE VIA
TO RECRUIT THESE CANDIDATES.
Social media can
prevent job offers.
DISCOVER REASONS TO
Social media improves
TIME TO HIRE HAS IMPROVED BY 33%.
USE MOBILE DEVICES
TO SEARCH FOR JOBS.
CANDIDATE QUALITY HAS IMPROVED BY 49%.
CANDIDATE QUANTITY HAS IMPROVED BY 43%.
EMPLOYEE REFERRALS HAVE IMPROVED BY 32%.
SOURCES: INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION; LINKUP
1415 W. Diehl Rd., Suite 400
Naperville, IL 60563
RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
2014 calendar of events
1415 W. Diehl Rd., Suite 400
Naperville, IL 60563
CHICAGO – MONROE STREET
CHICAGO – WACKER DRIVE
9 A.M. – 5 P.M. MT
AX 2012 TRAINING
Designed for production
and schedulers with
working knowledge of
Microsoft Dynamics AX,
this course explores new
features released in AX
2012. Taking place at our
Denver office, topics will
include bill of materials,
calendars and resources,
operations and routes,
inquiries and reports,
and much more.
7:30 A.M. – NOON CT
WHAT’S ON YOUR
2014 HR TO-DO LIST?
Begin 2014 armed with
the most up-to-date
upcoming HR issues,
trends and changes.
Learn what should
be on your list of top
priorities and how to plan
effectively. Topics will
include talent availability,
employment law and
and the latest on the
Affordable Care Act.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22
NOON – 1 P.M. CT
OWNING YOUR GASB STORY
Join us on January 22 to gain a better understanding of Governmental
Accounting Standard Board’s (GASB) new standards on financial reporting
for pension plans, and receive guidance on how to best communicate to
media and key stakeholders the impact of these changes. This webinar will
feature topics such as primary issues employers and plan administrators
may face; a GASB Statement No. 68 overview; public relations tactics to
control your own story; and more.
For more events, visit sikich.com/events.
ST. LOUIS, MO
Advisory services offered through Sikich Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.
General securities offered through Triad Advisors, Member FINRA/SIPC. Securities are offered through Sikich Corporate
Finance LLC, a registered broker dealer with the Securities Exchange Commission and a member of FINRA/SIPC.