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April 30, 2014

Super Women in Business nominations are now open for Memphis Business Journal's third annual event.

These awards honor the most influential women in business from various industries who have achieved success through leadership in business and community contribution. Success will also be judged by a nominee's level of community reinvestment in terms of involvement in nonprofit and community organizations.

A total of 25 women will be selected as finalists for the 2014 Super Women in Business Awards. These finalists will be honored at a luncheon held Friday, August 29, 2014 at the Hilton of Memphis. Individual tickets and group packages are available. To nominate a Super Woman click here. Click here to view a recap from last year's event. See a list of the 2013 Super Women in business here.

April 29, 2014

The 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report has been finalized and released to the public. Nine basic patterns were identified that describe 94% of the confirmed data breaches in 2013. The same nine patterns describe 95% of breaches over the last three years.  Point of Sale (POS) intrusions, web application attacks, cyber-espionage and card skimmers makeup the top concerns related to data disclosure. No surprise here.

However, particularly interesting is the correlation between incident patterns and industries. Readers can use associations provided in the report to draw conclusions and recognize which patterns apply to their own organization.  Figure 19, illustrated on page 15 of the report, allows a reader to identify the frequency of each pattern according to their industry type.  Another graph, Figure 70, maps critical security controls to incident patterns and prioritizes the controls by industry. This figure is especially useful because the control references are linked to the source of defense. These defined controls show which security measures to take in order to better protect data from a breach in specified environments.

Click here to view the report in its entirety. Don’t miss the “Recommendations for Consumers” in Appendix B, page 54. Didn't catch last year's report? View our blog post, "An Overview: Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report" here.

If you have further questions concerning the payment card industry, data security standards, and/or PCI compliance, contact me at bbrigman@cbiz.com or (901) 685.5575.

April 25, 2014

If you accept Payment Card Information (PCI) on your website, an attacker using the Heartbleed Open Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Bug can capture this information directly.  Additionally, SSL Virtual Private Network (VPN) attackers can use this bug to obtain information sent over the VPN connection.

Tips for Responding:

  • Almost all vulnerability scanners have updated their plugins to check for this issue. Scan all your public facing IP addresses that expose an HTTPS service (websites, SSL VPNs, remote logins, etc.) using your currently updated vulnerability scanner.
  • Patch your systems immediately.  All vendors are releasing patches. Contact your load balancer, VPN, network device, or server vendor for the fix.
  • If a third-party manages your servers, require them to confirm what actions they have taken.
  • Affected users should upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g.
  • All Web Application Firewalls and Intrusion Prevention Systems have released signatures for this issue. Update your signatures immediately and ensure they are in Block mode. Expect a performance impact to blocking the heartbeat requests of TLS, but you may be willing to accept the impact given the exposure that exists until you apply the patch.

The vulnerability leaves no trace of exploitation, so if you even suspect that you may have been compromised take the following steps to recover your security:

1.   Patch your systems immediately

2.   Change your SSL certificate

3.   Issue a warning to all customers and ask them to change their passwords immediately

4.   Change all system passwords on the affected server (The vulnerability also compromises in-memory passwords)

If you have any further questions concerning the Heartbleed Open SSL Bug, PCI Data Security Standards, or  CBIZ Security and Advisory Services, contact Brenda Brigman at bbrigman@cbiz.com or (901) 685.5575.

April 24, 2014

Another busy season has -- almost -- come and gone. April 15th is the infamous deadline for federal tax filings, but our full-service financial services office also has an April 30th deadline approaching for our audit department. Our Glimpse Into Busy Season blog post from last year was a hit, so we have decided to do a follow-up post to recap the fun happenings of the past few months. A few things have remained the same, but we have added some new items to our list of busy season perks.

We embrace the concept of keeping the accountants fed to keep them happy. Therefore, we make sure to supply ample amounts of food for our CBIZ crew. We kick-off each week with a Monday morning breakfast, which mostly includes carb-loading in the form of bagels, donuts, or Chick-fil-a. We do encourage our staff to take advantage of our bi-weekly fruit deliveries, and try to include healthy options for dinner. A balanced diet is important to maintaining alertness throughout the day.

Weekly activities, such as guessing how much candy is in a jar or trivia games, provide our staff with a much needed break in the middle of the week. Winners receive giftcards to some of our favorite places around Memphis.

Our most well-received change this busy season was something intangible. At the suggestion of one of our employees, The Positive Pledge written by Jon Gordon, is now a permanent fixture on our TV screen monitors throughout the office. The scrolling words of encouragement have transformed attitudes during stressful times these past few months. To view the pledge click here.

Our office will be celebrating the end of both tax and audit busy seasons with an Office Night Out at the new Wiseacre Brewery. Catered by Fuel Food Truck, the event will be a time for our group to relax and enjoy a fun night out away from the office.

April 23, 2014

Last week, we published a short recap of Bizwomen Mentoring Monday held at Memphis Botanic Gardens on April 7, 2014. As promised, we put together a short video of the event, including footage of Megan Murdock, Practice Development Manager, speaking on behalf of CBIZ.

April 18, 2014

We recently discussed 5 strategies to consider prior to terminating your Defined Benefit Plan. However, in certain cases, terminating your plan will ultimately remove long-term risk and improve your organization's financial profile. A well though out strategy is essential to terminating a Defined Benefit Plan. Plan sponsors need to take into consideration plan funding, employee payouts, time line, termination options, labor agreements and company goals.

The following timeline shows the Defined Benefit Plan Termination Process:

Having the right partner guide you through the process can reduce workload and risk, ensure confidence, and bring clarity to the process. If you have questions regarding Defined Benefit Plans or the termination process, contact Linda Lauer, Managing Director and Employee Benefit Plan Specialist, at llauer@cbiz.com or 901.685.5575.

April 16, 2014

CBIZ MHM had the honor of participating as a National Sponsor in Bizwomen Mentoring Monday held at the Memphis Botanic Gardens on April 7, 2014.

This year was the first time the Memphis Business Journal hosted the event, and the response was tremendous. Tickets sold out, and 250 women (and men - see photo by Alan Howell, MBJ, at left) gathered for one-on-one mentoring sessions with some of the Mid-South's most influential women in business. The event coincided with Mentoring Mondays hosted across the United States in all the American City Business Journal (ACBJ) markets.

Linda Lauer, Managing Director in the Memphis office of CBIZ MHM and Executive Board member of CBIZ Women's Advantage, was one of 40 mentors who coached mentees in five-minute one-on-one conversations. Attendees ranged in age from high school students to experienced professionals, all seeking business or career advice. Mentoring Monday also featured Lori Greiner of hit TV-series Shark Tank, who spoke on entrepreneurship and the importance of having confidence in the business world.

Though the speed-networking sessions demonstrated quite literally the term "organized-chaos," the event's success was evident in the exchanges between the mentees and the mentors.

Look out for a follow-up post including video footage from the event. You can see more pictures and tweets from Mentoring Monday by searching for #bizwomen and #bizwomenmentoring on Twitter. Further information regarding women in business can be found on the ACBJ's new website: www.bizwomen.com.  

April 14, 2014

On March 31, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State fiscal year 2014-2015 budget bill. This tax reform includes a major overhaul of the New York Corporate income and franchise tax. The Governor cites simplification as the main driver for the changes, as he is determined to make New York more attractive to do business in.

With changes being phased in until 2020, the now complicated structure of the New York consolidated return will mean major changes for taxpayers. As the effective date of this legislation is March 31, these changes will need to be considered for first quarter provision calculations. The budget bill is expansive, as there will be changes outside of just income and franchise tax, such as other miscellaneous repeals, adjustments, and additions. However, for the purpose of this post, we will only cover those reforms made to income and franchise tax for corporate taxpayers.

The following highlights of the tax changes are effective for the 2015 tax year unless otherwise noted and will impact your organization if you do business in New York:

Income Tax

  • New York’s previous combined reporting method converts to a water’s edge unitary filing, largely following the federal return. The intercorporate rules for combined reporting have been repealed. Each entity of an entire group of entities is liable for the tax and franchise tax of said group and calculated on a combined basis.
  • Provisions establishing the Subsidiary Capital tax and modifications have been repealed. For all taxpayers, the income tax rate reduces from 7.1% to 6.5% starting in 2016.
  • MTA Surcharge tax rate increases to 25.6% for the 2015 tax year, and will then be adjusted by the Tax commissioner as necessary each year.
  • The Net Operating Loss (NOL) changes from pre-apportionment to post-apportionment and allows for an option of taking the NOL over 2 or 10 years as a subtraction. NOLs remaining after 2014 will have to be converted to post-apportionment NOLs.
  • Many receipts will now be sourced under Market-based sourcing instead of the historical cost of performance methodology.

Franchise Tax

  • Capital tax will be phased out between 2016 and 2020.
  • The cap on capital tax increases to $5 million beginning in 2015.
  • The fixed dollar minimum tax based on a taxpayer’s New York sourced receipts has been retained, but increases the tax incrementally up to $200,000 for taxpayer’s with over $1 billion of NY receipts (the maximum before was $5,000).

Keep in mind that both domestic and foreign corporations doing business, employing capital, owning or leasing property, or maintaining an office in New York State will be subject to New York’s Article 9-A Corporate Franchise Tax. The budget bill adds “deriving receipts from activity” in New York to this list, and a corporation will be considered active in this regard if it has $1 million or more in receipts within New York under the bill’s revised sourcing rules. Additional changes included in the budget bill will be important to take into consideration for taxpayers. At this point, New York City’s fiscal year ends June 30.

As New York City has a history of mirroring New York state tax policy, we could expect to see something pushed out in this year’s New York City budget. You can find detailed information on the 2014-2015 Budget Bill on New York State’s website.

If you have any further questions regarding this budget bill and its impending tax reform, contact Josh Littlejohn at jlittlejohn@cbiz.com or (901) 685.5575.

April 1, 2014

A Defined Benefit Plan can pose a serious risk to an organization’s financial profile, especially in volatile markets with low interest rates. There are multiple de-risking strategies that can be employed to decrease risk and improve an organization’s overall financial profile. Taking de-risking steps now  can help make plan termination an option in the future for your organization.

Consider these 5 strategies before deciding to terminate your plan:

1.   A Plan soft freeze - Some soft freeze strategies can decrease future costs by limiting participation, freezing service or limiting future pay increases among other options

2.   A Plan hard freeze - Hard freeze strategies can also decrease costs by freezing or changing benefit accruals for active employees, or eliminating future increases to retirees

3.   Annuity buy-in - Purchasing annuities from insurance companies as plan assets may provide additional cash flow into the plan

4.   Annuity buy out- Purchasing annuities from insurance companies for all or some participants; the insurance company then assumes all future payments, risks and expenses

5.   Lump sum payouts- Utilize different payout strategies to improve plan health; lump sums can be offered to all or select participants to reduce overall financial risk.

Terminating your plan will remove long-term risk and improve your organization’s economic profile. However, developing and enacting a strategy to improve the health of your organization and retirement plan will be essential to reducing workload and risk prior to plan termination.

If you have questions regarding Defined Benefit Plans or de-risking strategies, feel free to contact Linda Lauer, Employee Benefit Plan Specialist, at llauer@cbiz.com or 901.685.5575.    


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