Do You Know How to Access All the Savings Under the New Federal Tax Law?

Read on below for savings available to businesses under the new federal tax law that you might not have known about.

You know that working with the GCP Energy Team to complete an assessment of your facility—can help you uncover savings of up to 20%. And you know that energy efficiency is an economic engine, supporting 2.2 million jobs nationwide in manufacturing, construction and other fields, most of which cannot be outsourced overseas.

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    BUT. Did you know there’s another reason why being more energy friendly should be a high priority for you and your business this year? I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with something that’s probably been on your mind given this time of year. Give up? It’s taxes. Specifically, it’s new tax savings (Code Section 179) for building owners under the recently passed federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Retroactive to Oct. 2, 2017, the Tax Act now allows for immediate expensing of certain building components and systems involved in an energy project, namely the replacement of HVAC, roof, fire suppression or security systems valued at up to $1 million.

    Prior to the new Tax Act, Section 179 expensing was not available for HVAC, roofs, fire suppression, and other structural building components.  Building owners should consult with their tax advisor if also purchasing new  machinery, vehicles, equipment, etc. The tax deduction annual cap is $1 million. The deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar if total expenditures for all qualifying improvements and new personal property exceed $2.5 million in a tax year.

    Below is a table showing what the tax savings and after-tax cost of a $50,000 HVAC replacement project would be in 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is when compared to the prior year (before the new tax law.)

    2017

    2018

    HVAC replacement

    $50,000

    $50,000

    First-year write off

    -

    $50,000

    Bonus depreciation

    -

    -

    Normal year 1 depreciation

    $641

    -

    Total year 1 deduction

    $641

    $50,000

    Cash(Tax) savings

    $250

    $14,500

    After tax cost

    $49,750

    $35,500

    As you can see, the difference between the two years is striking. This table also shows how a project that you might have initially believed was cost-prohibitive is well within your reach. Even better, in addition to the tax-related savings, such a project could reduce your building’s energy usage by 20% to 30%. That, of course, brings along its own savings in the way of lower energy bills.

    I know it sounds like a lot of moving parts here, but it’s quite simple: If you’re willing to take steps to make your building more energy efficient, there are savings waiting for you. It’s that easy.

    To make things even easier, the GCP Energy Team is more than happy to walk you through all the steps you need to take to ensure you’re saving as much money as possible. You can email the Team at energy@gcpartnership.com or contact us by phone at 216-592-2205.

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    Next up: DocuSign Email Scam: How to Identify it and Protect Your Business
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  • DocuSign Email Scam: How to Identify it and Protect Your Business

    The DocuSign email scam is causing a lot of problems out there for businesses. Here's how to identify it and take steps to safeguard your business.

    As a small business owner, it is crucial that you stay on top of all scams that could potentially target your business. While we are focusing on many of these types of specific scams in a series from the Federal Trade Commission, we wanted to draw your attention today to a phishing email scam that is on the rise.

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    With this particular scam, hackers are posing as someone you know. You receive an email from a trusted source when in fact, the email is coming from the hacker. You will be asked to verify documents via email and from there the scammers capture your email address and email password to hack into your account.

    How does this scam play out?

    The following five steps outline the usual progression a hacker will most likely follow in regard to this type of scam:

    Step No. 1: You and/or members of your organization receive an email from a trusted source—someone who you have previously done business with or have corresponded with. The email states you have received documents that need to be signed or reviewed or something similar. The subject line of the body or the email will reference Docu Sign or some other document storage application.

    Step No. 2: You are asked to click on a link in order to sign in, open and view the documents.

    Step No. 3: The link opens another page and you are asked to sign in with your Microsoft account information or your email address and password.

    Step No. 4: If you click on the link and sign in, your email address and password are immediately sent to the hacker.

    Step No. 5: Once they have your email address and password, they will be able to log into your email account or spoof your email and send/receive email as if they were you. Recipients will see the incoming email coming from your address. Or, the hacker can set up your email account in their local Outlook program on their computer and send/receive email as if they were you.

    It is not unusual for the hacker to do nothing for several days. They will log in and out of your email account just to see if you have changed your password. After several days, when they see they still have access to your account, they will begin sending malicious emails to individuals in your contact list.

    We have also seen an incident where the hacker logged into a user’s account and configured email Rules on the Exchange server that diverted incoming email.

    What to do if you are targeted?

    If you receive one of these DocuSign emails or a similar type of email request, call the sender and make sure the email was actually sent by the person. If not, delete the email. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK OR SUPPLY YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR PASSWORD. If you have a situation where someone clicked through and signed in, you should change your email passwords right away.

    How can you protect your company from this type of scam?

    • Communicate with your staff on a regular basis of the potential threats out there and the steps to take against them. Make sure everyone in your company is well-versed on what to look out for when it comes to email scams. Anytime you hear of a particular scam, send an immediate notification out to everyone on your staff and any outsiders who also use your network. Security issues should not be tacked with a one-and-done approach; there should be a constant drip of information.
    • Advise all employees to verify a suspicious and unexpected email by calling the actual sender.

    Steve Giordano is president of TeamLogic IT. Learn more about the company by clicking here.


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    Next up: Don't Get Locked into the Wrong Contract
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  • Don't Get Locked into the Wrong Contract

    Perhaps, like many of our members, you are confused by the numerous postcards and calls you are receiving about your energy rates, and not sure which provider to choose? We hear your frustration and hope to simplify it for you.

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    As you receive postcards in the mail, or a suspicious call, or even someone who stops by your office with an appointment, please call us to clarify and confirm before agreeing to a rate/plan with another supplier or broker that may not be ideal. We strongly urge you not to auto renew without the COSE Energy team first reviewing all offers to ensure you are renewing and/or enrolling in the COSE program.

    We have been notified by many of our members that they are turning away solicitors at their door or on the phone claiming they can lower their rate. Beware.

    We are always closely monitoring the state of affairs with our energy consulting partner, OnDemand Energy, to ensure rate stability and a broad array of energy choices for our members.  One call handles both natural gas and electric, for your office, residence and employees.  

    If you have an immediate question or concern regarding your natural gas or electric contract, please contact our partners at OnDemand Energy at (855) 267-3688.

    We look forward to providing you more options than anywhere else and providing a no-cost consultative review of your bills.  For general questions, please feel free to reach Nicole Stika, our Vice President, Energy Services (216) 592-2338. 

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    Next up: Don't Leave Money on the Table
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  • Don't Leave Money on the Table

    End of year estimations for budgets is upon us – that hurried time of the year where books close and you may be left grumbling. So, how do you make sure you don’t miss out and leave money on the table?

    End of year estimations for budgets is upon us – that hurried time of the year where books close and you may be left grumbling. So, how do you make sure you don’t miss out and leave money on the table? 

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    The reality is that most energy efficiency projects aren’t budgeted. Why?  Maybe the project was more opportunistic than planned (who budgets to replace lights that aren’t broken?). Or, maybe the equipment that you thought could make it through summer with maintenance Band-Aids and Duct Tape now needs to be replaced. And you definitely don’t want to get into the frost bite of winter and be left without adequate heating.  Financing lets you do the project without a pre-determined budget.

    Financing isn’t new. It’s an everyday occurrence.  From buying a new vehicle to purchasing office equipment, we all have experience with it. The irony is while over 80% of CFOs and finance guru’s use financing to purchase capital equipment, very few think to use financing for building equipment, like lights, chillers, controls, and boilers. May not be as appealing, but they are necessary to properly run your business.  

    Until recently, financing for this equipment was difficult to secure. Now, it’s simple. No longer do you as the building owner and/or tenant have to hope money falls from the sky and pads your non-existent energy budget. You can now take advantage of attractive financing solutions, even when you don’t have the budget.  

    It just makes sense to shift dollars in your bottom line from energy savings to other areas of your business. Now, in partnership with our friends at KeyBank, we will structure a plan that illustrates positive cash flow to your business. Don’t let the cost of waiting (or not knowing what to do, and when) get in your way; it is never too early to map out your energy savings strategy.

    So as the year starts to come to an end, it’s time to make your cash flow more positively to end the year strong. Let us show you how!

    Contact us today at 216-592-2205 or email us at energy@cose.org

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    Next up: RNC: Don’t Let Security Concerns Trump Your Week
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  • RNC: Don’t Let Security Concerns Trump Your Week

    The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be hosted in Cleveland from July 18-21, with secondary events planned for the days immediately leading up to and following. It’s no secret this will be a huge event for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, as it will bring the focus of the national and international media, millions of dollars from thousands of visitors and, of course, protestors. Regardless if your headquarters is five or 25 miles from downtown, there are added risks you should prepare for.

    The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be hosted in Cleveland from July 18-21, with secondary events planned for the days immediately leading up to and following.  It’s no secret this will be a huge event for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, as it will bring the focus of the national and international media, millions of dollars from thousands of visitors and, of course, protestors.  Regardless if your headquarters is five or 25 miles from downtown, there are added risks you should prepare for.

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    There have been various security meetings for the security industry as well as the business community alike over the last year, and the message is very clear - every business, not just businesses downtown, need to raise their security posture during this time.  Most of the businesses downtown are either already working on plans to secure their places of work or have already made the necessary accommodations to best prepare them for the increased risk that will be present.  

    Here are some facts to consider that have been discussed as real possibilities by the FBI, Secret Service and local police:

    The RNC will bring about 50,000 in media and event attendees alone.  Expect the actual number of tourists to reach upwards of 100,000+ when you factor in Republican supporters and protestors. 

    • These visitors will venture out to various restaurants and events and attend RNC-related activities throughout the area. 

    To fortify security around the Convention, Cleveland is looking to bring in 1,500 – 2,500 more law enforcement officers from around the country.

    • Many have questioned if that is enough as there is much more going on besides the convention.
    • Will the Cleveland law enforcement, or those police officers being brought in - who don’t normally deal with large events and their inherent problems - be properly trained in time?
    • Several suburbs are sending officers and other resources to assist downtown.  This is a calculated risk each suburb makes, weighing the safety of their own city - some have already backed out.

    Hotels and homes for the event have been rented out as far as Toledo, Mentor, Medina and other areas heading south.  This is not just a Cleveland event.

    Thousands more people means everything gets more crowded, especially transportation.  The highways, ‘Ubers’/taxis and RTA will all be experiencing increased use.

    • A threat to your business doesn’t necessarily come from violence, but rather the availability of your workforce or customers, and their ability to get to your place of business.

    With any national event, there will be demonstrations.  Anti-Donald Trump groups, Resist 2016 and Black Lives Matters have already planned rallies.  While the peaceful protests are well within their constitutional rights and should be respected as such, many demonstrations can turn disruptive.

    • What if a march shuts down a normally busy street or highway?  What if a protest turns violent?

    For those who cannot attend but want to make their voice heard around the country and around the globe, cyber-attacks are a real threat.  Those who supply the convention, government or military may see an uptick in attacks during this period in an effort to disrupt the convention electronically.

    The many risks associated with an event like this range from congested streets to acts of terrorism. Taking all the possibilities into consideration before the RNC is the best way to be prepared to handle the unthinkable.  Preparation is key.  Plan now for how to respond to an incident.  In the event of an incident escalating, be aware of simple things like who to contact, what your priorities are and strategies to minimize the financial effect on your business.  Stay alert, keep up to date with what is taking place during the week and always be planning on how you will respond in the event of a threat unfolding.

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    Next up: Don't let your Natural Gas Contract Auto Renew under a Different Supplier!
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  • Don't let your Natural Gas Contract Auto Renew under a Different Supplier!

    Review your options for natural gas (and electric) through COSE before it’s too late. Thank you for trusting COSE as your energy advisor for your natural gas. You may have (or soon will) received a postcard in the mail from Constellation Energy (formerly Integrys Energy) as a preliminary notification or a second one with a renewal offer (product/rate/term). We urge you to call us first before letting your account auto-renew and getting locked into a non-COSE rate.

    Review your options for natural gas (and electric) through COSE before it’s too late.

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    Thank you for trusting COSE as your energy advisor for your natural gas. You may have (or soon will) received a postcard in the mail from Constellation Energy (formerly Integrys Energy) as a preliminary notification or a second one with a renewal offer (product/rate/term). We urge you to call us first before letting your account auto-renew and getting locked into a non-COSE rate.

    COSE and our consulting partner, OnDemand Energy want to make sure you are getting the most competitive rate, so let us shop that rate against 20+ suppliers to provide you the best rate.

    If you have an immediate question or concern regarding your natural gas or electric contract, please contact our partners at OnDemand Energy at (855) 267-3688. They will however, reach out to you in advance of your contract renewal to discuss your options. This is also the time to lock in electric rates, since one call now handles both your utilities, making it simpler and more convenient for you.  

    COSE and OnDemand Energy partner to offer you choices for your office, residence and employees. 

    We look forward to providing you more options than anywhere else and providing a no-cost consultative review of your bills.  For general questions, please feel free to reach me at (216) 592-2338.  Let us help you reduce and manage energy expenses.

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