Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association

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  • Friday, September 22, 2017 7:26 PM | Anonymous

    IRS Relief for Businesses & Individuals

    IR-2017-155, Sept. 15, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Irma victims in Florida have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.  This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out on Oct. 16, and businesses with extensions that run out on Sept. 15.

    The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the
    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
    as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance in Florida. 

    The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Sept. 4, 2017 in Florida. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period.

    This includes the Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2016 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 16, 2017. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

    A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year partnerships whose 2016 extensions run out on Sept. 15, 2017
    and calendar-year tax-exempt organizations whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017.
    The disaster relief page has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for the additional time. 

    In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due during the first 15 days of the disaster period. Check out the disaster relief page for the time periods that apply to each jurisdiction.

    The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

    In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

    Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.

    The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

    For information on government-wide efforts related to Hurricane Irma, visit www.USA.gov/hurricane-Irma.

    Follow the IRS on Social Media      Subscribe to IRS Newswire

  • Wednesday, September 20, 2017 7:27 PM | Anonymous

    Assignment of Benefits (AOB)

    Have you heard the term Assignment of Benefits?
    Do you know how it impacts you? An AOB is an agreement that, once signed, transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of your insurance policy to a third party.

    An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without your involvement.

    Consumers DO NOT need to sign an AOB to initiate repairs from Hurricane Irma and should be cautious of vendors and auto glass harvesters who pressure them to sign one before an insurer has the ability to inspect the damage. Read documents closely and find out who is responsible for paying the vendor – you or your insurance company.

    If you suspect fraud or suspicious activity, please call the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 
    1-877-693-5236. To keep up to date on Consumer Protection Coalition activities, follow us on Twitter @CPC_FL 
    and “like” our page at

     FB.com/consumerprotectioncoalition


  • Monday, August 07, 2017 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    The ins and outs of insuring businesses against disasters

    By Josh Helmuth - Posted Aug 7, 2017 at 2:01 AM

    So your home is prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm. Great! Be proud you have checked the boxes — proper preparation pays off. But what about your business?

    As a reformed Florida surfer, I can tell you that the best (and biggest) waves occur during hurricane season from June 1 to Nov. 30. In other words, right now — surf’s up and you should be ready for it.

    For your business, two areas to focus on are insurance strategy and business continuity planning. Insurance will take care of paying you back after the storm hits and business continuity planning will make sure that the business can operate following a loss.

    Pre-storm is the time to review insurance policies to make sure they are written for your specific business needs. It’s critical to realize that once a warning is issued, insurance companies will shut down underwriting and binding of insurance. At that point, it’s too late to buy or change a policy.

    Most issues with business insurance policies stem from how the contracts are written — what is included/excluded:

    • Replacement cost versus actual cash value policy assignment: Cost to replace/reconstruct your buildings will be depreciated if actual cash value is listed.
    • Coinsurance percentage: How does this apply to your current reconstruction value? Avoid penalties with a current insurance appraisal.
    • Business interruption/extra expense: Make certain that the correct calculation method is used and contingent business interruption is added if suppliers are important to your operations.
    • Building ordinance and law: Building codes change regularly. Who will pay for reconstruction updates to meet the current code? Coverage for such updates is probably not automatically included in your policy.
    • Flood: Coverage for rising waters/storm surge is not typically covered unless your business has separate flood insurance. However, primary limits of flood insurance may not be enough to insure the full replacement cost of your building.

    Insuring owned property of your business is only one aspect of disaster planning. Best practices for business owners include a business continuity plan, which defines continuity of critical operations following a hurricane disaster. The plan includes such considerations as: how prepared are you for a disaster, what are your critical functions, are the critical parts of your business able to function in the event of a catastrophe and how will your business operate until it is up and running again?

    Communicating the strategy to employees is vital to the plan’s success. Most plans involve transferring equipment and inventory, specifics for protecting buildings and records and provisions for employee availability to help with preparations, including who will do what before and after the storm hits.

    There are some great information sources to assist with building a building continuity plan, but the plan must be specific to your business. One resource can be found at http://www.lykesinsurance.com/blog/blog-details/lykes-blog/2016/06/30/planning-for-the-unthinkable, in which Lykes executive vice president Mark Webb explains how to customize a plan by describing the five phases of business continuity strategy: Initiation, Business Impact Analysis, Recovery Strategies, Implementation and Testing/Monitoring.

    Proactive business owners will plan for adequate coverage as well as hurricane/disaster recovery to ensure their business will continue to operate after the storm. Once those boxes are checked off and a strategy is in place, get back to work! Or better yet, go grab a surfboard and hang 10.

    Josh Helmuth is risk adviser in the Sarasota office of Lykes Insurance, a Florida-based commercial insurance firm.

    LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

  • Friday, July 28, 2017 9:53 AM | Anonymous

    Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed readers of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of huddling over wooden workbenches learning a craft such as woodwork or maybe metal work, or any one of the hands-on projects that characterized the once-ubiquitous shop class.

    But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability. The idea was that the college-bound would take traditional academic courses (Latin, creative writing, science, math) and received no vocational training. Those students not headed for college would take basic academic courses, along with vocational training, or “shop.”

    Ability tracking did not sit well with educators or parents, who believed students were assigned to tracks not by aptitude, but by socio-economic status and race. The result being that by the end of the 1950s, what was once a perfectly respectable, even mainstream educational path came to be viewed as a remedial track that restricted minority and working-class students.

    The backlash against tracking, however, did not bring vocational education back to the academic core. Instead, the focus shifted to preparing all students for college, and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum.

    So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program? As it turns out, not really. For one thing, people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work. Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor.

    And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68% of high school students attend college. That means over 30% graduate with neither academic nor job skills.

    But even the 68% aren’t doing so well. Almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37% of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.


  • Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:01 PM | Anonymous

    Three-day operation was designed to protect consumers, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says.

    Herald Tribune - link to article

    SARASOTA COUNTY – Nine unlicensed contractors were arrested last week in a sting operation designed specifically to protect consumers, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says.

    Operation Freelancer IV is an investigation by the police department into individuals who “advertise home repair services that require a license to complete,” the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said. The three-day sting operation resulted in 11 felony and seven misdemeanor charges.

    Working closely with the Sarasota County Building Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, detectives contacted contractors to complete an assignment that legally required a license.

    The DBPR database was checked to verify their status as licensed contractors upon their arrival at a “predetermined residence,” according to a news release.

    Many of those taken into custody have had previous run-ins with the law. Between the nine of them, there are 40 prior felony or misdemeanor charges, including eight convictions.

    The apprehension of misleading repairmen has been a concern for the Sheriff’s Office for the past five years. Detectives are assigned to investigate tips received from people who encounter contractors who lack the required licenses, permits or certification.

    Sheriff Tom Knight said that the risk of unlicensed contracting work is extremely high and that his police department is doing its best to crack down on offenders.

    “Consumers are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home, unlicensed, and in some cases, with criminal histories,” he said. “Let this be a warning to criminals who come into our community and illegally solicit services, that their behavior will not be tolerated.”

    The nine people arrested were:

    ■ Charles Cochran, 55, Port Charlotte

    ■ Richard Hayez, 67, North Port

    ■ Joseph Hopp Jr., 56, Bradenton

    ■ Timothy Jewell, 56, Sarasota

    ■ Jonathan King, 41, Englewood

    ■ Mark Lamoureux, 69, North Port

    ■ Terence Miller, 56, North Port

    ■ Raul Morey-Arenas, 58, Sarasota

    ■ David Pond, 43 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    To check a Sarasota County license, call the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029. To report someone you suspect is acting as an unlicensed contractor or performing work without a permit, call 941-861-5000. For more information visit www.scgov.net/DevelopmentServices/Pages/ContractorLicensing.aspx.


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