Employee Benefit Plans

THINKING HOLISTICALLY…

As far as Ted is concerned, business still relies on “picking up the phone,” even in an industry that has become increasingly global. As CFO for a regional timber and wood products firm, one that does business throughout the U.S. and Asia Pacific, he was disappointed in the outside firms that were auditing the company’s employee benefits plan (EBP). Mainly, he’d been made to feel like a number, only hearing from the auditors come “auditing season,” while too many of his calls went either unanswered or unreturned. Between 2005 and 2010, he’d gone through four different auditing firms before bringing us in.

We’re happy to say we broke the “here today, gone tomorrow” string, in large part because of what Ted sees as our greater commitment to the success of his company. He likes our multi-faceted approach that involves staying in touch throughout the year, even if it’s just a phone check-in, or an email reply to help make sense of paperwork.

As Ted’s responsibilities have shifted into more of a supervisory role, we work closely with the staff members that have taken over his previous day-to-day responsibilities, including the internal management of the company’s EBP. As far as they’re concerned, we’re always just a call or email away.

The Benefits of Partnering with a Full-Service CPA Firm

There are many puzzle pieces that help fill out the complete picture of any business, regardless of industry, service area and focus. In serving businesses across an array of industries, Geffen Mesher applies our deep knowledge of essential compliance issues that help support all business activities, including employee benefit plans.

Since the 1980s, when employee benefits plans began to gain a great deal of focus, we have built this area of our practice in much the same way we have built the rest: through diligence, expertise, and trust. Today we serve our clients (including those involved in manufacturing, dealer services, real estate, construction, and professional services) with a systematic, focused and detail-oriented approach that helps ensure all policies and procedures line up with the mandates of the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

When auditing employee benefits plans, we help our clients steer clear of compliance-related investigations and potential fines, which can quickly cost a business upwards of $50,000.

“We’ve tailored our services to make sure clients stay compliant with the DOL and IRS. It’s an important role for any business, and we often catch things that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks, leading to scrutiny, fines, and penalties a company would rather avoid.” Tony Pizzuti, Shareholder

A central hub for your benefits plan

In a perfect world, the administration of an employee benefit plan would function smoothly, without any additional need for oversight. We’ve seen plenty of situations over the years where this isn’t the case, a fact that points back to the nature of how plans are designed.

Many businesses believe that simply knowing they have a plan is information enough, expecting that a third-party partner is providing the needed oversight to be sure the plan is in compliance. While a number of parties—including controllers, investors and plan administrators—have their hands in how a benefits plan operates, the job of oversight often gets bounced between a company’s human resources and accounting teams.

When you factor in the normal workloads of these two departments, it’s easy to see why issues such as whether a deposit was made on the correct date, or if it was made too early or too late in a pay cycle, can get overlooked.

“There’s a lot of stress involved, especially when a client isn’t sure if they’ve done everything perfectly. Issues pop up all the time, not just during auditing season. Our clients appreciate having us at the ready when they need us.” Dave Adams, Shareholder

The DOL and IRS actually have greater confidence in a business when they see that they’re partnering with an experienced tax and auditing team to be a hub for the company’s benefits plan.

Beyond compliance

Making sure our clients are compliant with the DOL and IRS is at the core of our employee benefit plan services, and is just one example of our holistic approach to serving businesses.

One of the lasting benefits of partnering with Geffen Mesher for auditing employee benefits plans is that the work is an invitation for clients to engage with an experienced tax and auditing team with a proven track record of diligence and results. They appreciate our meticulous nature, our care for details, and our understanding of all levels of tax laws and compliance issues. They also see that what really drives our firm is our commitment to building and maintaining long-standing relationships.

“When you catch an issue during an audit that should have been caught months ago, the DOL and IRS can still come down on you. That’s why we do more than just show up once a year to perform the audit. We support our clients throughout the year, even if it means walking them through how to fill out specific tax forms.” Kathy Haines, Senior Manager

Working toward greater benefits

While other firms may see compliance work as just another chunk of business, we see it as one more way to improve outcomes for the people we’re serving. It’s also an opportunity to get to know businesses and their company culture from another level.

At the end of the day, when employees opt into a benefits plan, they’re doing so in order to improve their way of life, create contingencies, and plan for the future. They expect and trust that the plan will function correctly for their benefit.

We bring this level of awareness into our work, and allow it to inform our process in support of businesses and people.