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SECURE Act: Implications for Plan Sponsors in 2020

The SECURE Act is the first comprehensive legislation effecting retirement plans in over a decade. Plan sponsors should start assessing the consequences of the Act now, especially as many provisions are effective in 2020.

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Auditor Spotlight: Yvonne Wu

A spotlight on Yvonne Wu, CPA, Audit Manager at Shea Labagh Dobberstein, as published in the firm’s January 2020 Employee Benefit Plans newsletter.

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75 Years and Counting…

Shea Labagh Dobberstein is proud to be part of the Bay Area’s history as it marks its 75th year in business in 2019.

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Employee Spotlight: Tina Lin

A spotlight on Tina Lin, CPA, Audit Manager at Shea Labagh Dobberstein, as published in the firm’s May 2019 Employee Benefit Plans newsletter.

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Employee Benefit Plan Newsletter – October 2017

Target-Date Funds (TDFs) have become the Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) of choice for most 401(k) plans. Read more about the positive impact that TDFs have had for participants, plan sponsors and DC plans in general…

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Target-Date Funds: A Simpler Investment Choice

Target-Date Funds (TDFs) have become the Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) of choice for most 401(k) plans. Read more about the positive impact that TDFs have had for participants, plan sponsors and DC plans in general…

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SLD Walks in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

SLD was one of the top 25 fundraisers for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in San Francisco as it celebrated its 25th Anniversary! Together, we raised over $5,000 to support Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

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Why should my organization consider outsourced accounting?

If you’re not an accountant, it’s time to stop struggling with issues and concepts that aren’t a part of your core business. Working with an expert on an outsourced basis can not only make your life easier, but bring visible improvements to your business.

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Employee Benefit Plan Newsletter – May 2017

Employees depend on plan sponsors to manage the plan in the best interest of all participants. A poorly designed investment menu can cripple participant outcomes and investment performance. Behavioral finance research suggests that participants are overwhelmed when offered too many investment options. The negative impacts of this are discussed on Page 3.

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Real Estate Newsletter – March 2017

Over the past several months, Congress and the IRS promulgated tax provisions, extending tax savings opportunities that benefit real property owners and clarifying new rules regarding the Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act (“FIRPTA”). Some of these provisions allow taxpayers to accelerate deductions or claim tax credits. In this newsletter, you will learn about some of the provisions affecting real property, as well as recent trends in multi-family housing within the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Restaurant Newsletter – Fall 2016

In this newsletter, discover the top three strategies that yield sales tax savings, and how significant savings can often be achieved by a simple inventory of assets.

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Real Estate Newsletter – July 2016

The real estate industry in the Bay Area continues its upward trend—although there is talk about a plateau being reached or at least being in sight. The increase in construction activity and valuations have been very strong. Only time will tell if the future holds a correction or merely a pause in the upward trajectory.

The main focus of this issue will be on depreciation. On Page 2, we discuss depreciation in the context of cost segregation—from the §1031 exchange vantage point and from a “repair vs. capitalize” vantage point. On Page 3, we explain the newly enacted PATH Act provisions as they affect the real estate industry. In combination, these articles explore the intersection of bonus depreciation with cost segregation and like-kind exchange (an exercise in three-dimensional chess).

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Employee Spotlight: Mike Stephens

A spotlight on Michael A. Stephens, CPA, MBA, Senior Audit Manager at Shea Labagh Dobberstein, as published in the firm’s July 2016 Employee Benefit Plans newsletter.

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Employee Benefit Plan Newsletter – July 2016

In previous articles, we have discussed the positive impact that 401(k) plan design features such as auto enrollment and auto escalation have had on both participation and savings rates. A less well-known and relatively new feature, auto portability, is the subject of this article. This feature not only makes it easy for both employees and plan sponsors to move retirement account balances when they change jobs, but can help increase overall retirement savings. Turn to Page 3 for more information about the potential of this feature and why you should be aware of it.

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Real Estate Newsletter – April 2016

Welcome to the first issue of SLD’s Real Estate newsletter providing important news and advice for real estate professionals.

In today’s challenging economy, where real estate holdings are subject to shifting dynamics in the market, SLD’s real estate experts can provide clients peace of mind and stability.

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Designing Employer Contributions to Encourage Greater Participant Savings

While matching contributions provide added incentive for employees to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan, tailoring employer contributions can help maximize participant contribution rates. For instance, plan sponsors may want to reduce the matching percentage and increase the cap to see if the savings rate would increase without negatively impacting the participation rate.

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Employee Benefit Plan Newsletter – March 2016

Our last two newsletters featured articles about two common “auto” features used by defined contribution (DC) plans to improve participation and savings rates. Numerous studies have documented the positive impact these features have had. Beyond such auto features, there are a number of other practices that should be explored to help drive successful retirement outcomes. A plan’s approach to employer contributions, for instance, can be designed to maximize the employee’s contributions. Turn to Page 3 for a discussion of how this could be accomplished.

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Tax Extenders Made Permanent

This change will significantly decrease the after-tax cash flow cost of leasehold improvements and should provide a boost for all aspects of the real estate industry – from development through design, construction and occupancy.

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How to Help Increase Your Participants’ Retirement Savings: Auto Escalation

Numerous studies have found that in order to accrue adequate money to achieve a secure retirement, the average plan participant needs to contribute between 10–15% of their annual salary. Considering that default contribution rates for plans utilizing automatic enrollment are generally in the 3% to 6% range, it is a marked gap, and one that plan sponsors can help remedy.

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Employee Benefit Plan Newsletter – January 2016

Over the past thirty-plus years, defined contribution (DC) plans have become the primary means for the average worker to accumulate wealth to provide for a financially secure retirement. With longer life expectancies and increased health care costs, it is more important than ever for employees to adequately save for retirement. Accordingly, it is crucial that employees effectively utilize DC plans to achieve this objective. Unfortunately, several surveys and studies have concluded that this may not be happening.

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Employee Spotlight: Liza Belale

A spotlight on Liza T. Belale, CPA, Director at Shea Labagh Dobberstein, as published in the firm’s January 2016 Employee Benefit Plans newsletter.

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New EBSA Report Finds Deficiencies in Audit Quality

According to a U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Report issued May 2015, 39% of 400 audits reviewed by EBSA contained major deficiencies. This latest report indicates that the quality of employee benefit plan audits has not improved, but has, in fact, been worsening over previous studies.

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Recent Supreme Court Ruling Puts Onus on Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors…

A ruling by the Supreme Court in the case Tibble vs. Edison International last month makes it clear that plan sponsors have an ongoing fiduciary duty to monitor the investments in 401(k) plans. Although the Supreme Court decision was narrowly focused on the statute of limitations issue, there are broader implications that plan sponsors will need to consider.

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2015 Year-End Tax Planning

Businesses seeking to maximize tax benefits through 2015 year-end tax planning may want to consider several general strategies, such as use of traditional timing techniques for income and deductions, and the role of the tax extenders which were just renewed over the weekend.

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Yvonne Wu Promoted to Audit Senior

The firm is pleased to announce the promotion of Yvonne Wu to Audit Senior Staff Accountant. Yvonne joined SLD nearly three years ago and has been a key Audit Staff Accountant providing outstanding service to our clients. This experience, in conjunction with her overall strong skill set, will enable her to take on the greater leadership responsibilities of an Audit Senior Staff Accountant.

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Validity of “Swap and Drop” Transactions Confirmed by BOE

The California Board of Equalization has held that a “Swap and Drop” transaction has qualified for tax-deferred treatment under Section 1031. This decision counters the Franchise Tax Board’s longstanding view that such transactions preclude taxpayers from the requisite holding of the replacement property for use in a trade or business. While not precedential, the ruling should provide some comfort to real estate investors engaging in these types of transactions.

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The Key Benefits to “On‐Shoring” Your Production Process

The United States manufacturing industry’s employment levels peaked in the late 1970’s; however, since that time period off shoring of jobs has dominated and the manufacturing industry and employment levels as a whole have declined.  In the past few years, though, there has been a significant move to “Re‐Shore” jobs within the manufacturing industry. We’re finding that some of the main reasons companies initially chose to offshore their production process are the same reasons why companies are bringing these jobs back to the United States. 

Written By: Adam Buttery, Director – Accounting and Auditing Services
(with Tax input by Karen Souza, Director – Tax Services)

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Increase Participation Rates in Your Plan: Auto Enrollment

Automatic enrollment features have proven to be an effective means of increasing plan participation. In addition to helping to improve participant outcomes, the increased participation can help plans comply with the non-discrimination requirements.

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Will Your Employees Be Prepared for Retirement? Increase Participation Rates in Your Plan

Beginning in the 1980s, US corporations began transitioning from traditional defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) plans (what are more commonly known as “401(k) plans”) as the primary retirement plan offered to their employees. This transition shifted the primary responsibility for an employee’s retirement readiness from the employer to the employee.

Many have suggested that this transition has had a negative impact on the US retirement system. To determine if this claim is valid or not requires a look at whether DC plans are effective in helping employees accumulate enough to enjoy a financially secure retirement.

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