Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often referred to as a “silent killer” since it is a toxic gas that is odorless and tasteless.  In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated there were over 500 fatalities and 15,000 emergency room visits resulting from CO poisoning.  CO is produced as a by-product from the burning of fossil fuels such as propane, natural gas, oil, kerosene and wood.  At low levels, CO exposure can cause nausea or flu-like symptoms.  People with certain medical conditions can suffer greater impact at lower exposure levels.  Higher levels of exposure will cause unconsciousness and death.

Many businesses and homes have exposure to CO.  Examples include:

  • Leaking vents from furnace, gas fired hot water heater or gas fireplace
  • Portable generators and other gas powered construction equipment used outside but vented too close to a residence or building
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Swimming pool heaters
  • Gas dryers
  • Vents blocked by snow or other obstructions

CO detectors are mandatory in many jurisdictions for residences and certain types of commercial operations such as schools, nursing homes, lodging and apartment operations.  For example, Massachusetts requires that CO detectors be installed in any single or multifamily residence that has fossil fuel burning equipment or an attached enclosed garage.  This MA law requires detectors be installed on each level and must be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door.  Additional specifics can be found at

Numerous resources are available to learn more about the dangers of CO poisoning and loss prevention. Your insurance carrier or local fire departments are good sources for information.  The CDC has published a number of different resources which are available at

At Cleary, we will evaluate your business exposures and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to safeguard your business. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700.

What is Commercial Surety?

Presented by Michael Regan

Contract surety refers to bonds that guarantee the performance of a contractor according to the terms & conditions of a contract. It includes the payment of all bills to suppliers, subcontractors and laborers on the project the bond is written for. Commercial surety is an umbrella term referring to all other types of bonds.

Commercial surety falls into a number of categories including the following examples:

  • License & Permit (ex. – street opening and real estate broker bonds)
  • Court & Fiduciary (ex. – release of lien and guardian bonds)
  • Public Official (ex. – treasurer and tax collection bonds)
  • Federal (ex. – customer bonds)
  • Crime (ex. – employee dishonesty bonds)
  • Miscellaneous (ex. – self-insured workers compensation bonds)

Here are a few types of industries and jobs that will require surety bonds:

  • Trucking and bus companies
  • Importers
  • Plaintiffs appealing judgments
  • Banks
  • Bankruptcy trustees
  • IT Consultants
  • Alcoholic beverage distillers and distributors
  • Collection Agents
  • And many more!

Contact Cleary Insurance with any questions about commercial bonds. We can offer you business advise and technical expertise.

At Cleary, we will evaluate your business exposures and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to safeguard your business. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700.

DOL Investigations and New Minimum Wage – 2015

Presented by Al Corvigno

DOL Investigations

According to the Government Contracts Enforcement Department at the US Labor Wage and Hour Division, over eight hundred investigations took place in fiscal year 2013. Seventy five percent of those resulted in violations which included retroactive wage fines totaling over thirty four million dollars and twenty three contractor debarments. Overtime violations (not paying time and one half when employees work more than 40 hours each week) and OSHA violations for unsafe practices including fatalities were at the top of the list.

Maintaining copious records is the cornerstone for violation prevention. One way to ensure your employees fully understand Service Contract Act (SCA) procedures and Fair Labor Standards (FLSA) is to have all personnel properly trained.

Al Corvigno offers a one day SCA course which covers practical training that will teach you how to apply the laws and remain in compliance. If you are interested in his course he can be reached by email at

Minimum Wage – 2015

Executive Order 13658 was signed on February 12, 2014, establishing a minimum wage for contractors. Effective January 1, 2015, the order raised the hourly minimum wage paid by contractors to workers performing on or in connection with covered federal contracts to $10.10 per hour.  The amount of the Executive Order minimum wage will be determined by the Secretary beginning January 1, 2016 and annually thereafter.

This amount will be published by the Secretary at least 90 days before the new minimum wage is to take effect and will include the following:

  • No less than the amount in effect on the date of such determination
  • Increased from such amount by the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index

As required by this Executive Order, the Departments final rule incorporates existing definitions, procedures, remedies, and enforcement procedures under the FLSA, SCA, and Davis-Bacon Act.

At Cleary, we know how important a comprehensive benefits package can be to your continued success. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700 and we will work with you to create a plan that meets your fringe-benefit obligations and provides your employees with valuable benefits.

2015 Tax Tips

The year 2015 brings a number of important changes to personal and small business tax laws and regulations. It’s important that you be aware of them in order to minimize your tax bill and keep more of what you earn on an after-tax basis. Here are some of the most common tax moves you can make that may make a difference in your wallet for 2015.

1. Don’t forget your last-minute 2014 retirement plan contributions. For 401(k) plans, you’ll need to make your last minute contributions before the end of the year. Otherwise you’ll have to wait a year before you get the tax benefit of having contributed (though even if you don’t make the contribution until January you’ll still have the benefit of a year’s worth of tax-deferred growth).

For IRAs, on the other hand, you can still make your tax year 2014 contribution until April 15th, 2015 – your normal filing deadline. If you haven’t contributed the maximum allowable amount for 2014, prioritize that over 2015 contributions. You may well be able to catch up on 2015 contributions later in the year.

2. Try to bunch deductions. Do you have a lot of miscellaneous itemized deductions so far this year? Try to commit to planned deductible expenses before the New Year. If you don’t have a lot of itemized deductions for 2014, or you expect to have a lot of them in 2015, then try to put as many as you can in the same year. This allows you to get the maximum tax benefit out of your miscellaneous itemized deductions, which have to exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent for medical expenses) in order for you to take the deduction. You may be able to pay local and property taxes early, for example, to secure them for this year’s miscellaneous itemized deductions.

3. Did you have capital gains during the year? Try to sell some losing positions and reinvest the proceeds somewhere more productive. This may help you in three ways: You can cancel out your capital gains taxes with capital losses. If you have more losses than gains, and you sell your losing position(s), you can deduct up to $3,000 of those losses against ordinary income. Any additional losses over $3,000 can be carried forward to future years.

Another technique to minimize capital gains taxes is to structure the sale as an installment sale. This spreads the gains out over several years, giving you more time to cancel them out with losses, and also potentially lowering the amount of capital gains exposed to the 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on higher income individuals.

Are you near the threshold for having to pay the 3.8 percent Medicare surtax? Consider moving some IRA contributions from Roth IRAs to traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. This increases your current year deductions and lowers your AGI – potentially keeping you below the income threshold that exposes you to this tax.

4. Be alert for the alternative minimum tax. This tax is increasingly snagging even middle-income families – especially those who have large families, houses, lots of deductions, and who live in high-tax states.

5. Assess whether it may make sense to increase contributions to these plans:

College/Education Savings

Coverdell ESAs
Section 529 Plans
Prepaid tuition programs
Deductible professional education courses (subject to certain restrictions

Retirement savings plans

Traditional deductible IRAs
Non-deductible IRAs
Roth IRAs
Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP IRA
401(k) Plans, including Solo 401(k)s for self-employed individuals and couples

Health care-related plans and deductions

Health Savings Accounts (must be in conjunction with a qualified high-deductible health plan)
Employer FSAs
Deductions for medical insurance and expenses

6. Take the home office tax deduction. The IRS recently established a ‘safe harbor’ removing some of the more onerous record-keeping requirements for the business use of a home. Click here to learn more about the new simplified method for calculating the home office deduction. For more information, see IRS Publication 587 – Business Use of Your Home.

7. Go over your employee benefits. Ensure you are taking full advantage of any flexible savings accounts your employer offers that may be of use for you. Examples include health care FSAs, dependent care FSAs or commuting/transportation FSAs.

At Cleary, we know how important a comprehensive benefits package can be to your continued success. Give us a call today at 617-723-0700 and we will work with you to create a plan that meets your business objectives, takes into account state and federal laws, and capitalizes on incentives and innovative solutions now being offered.

Long Term Care: Make Sure You and Your Team are Covered

Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure you have a complete financial strategy in place. Does your plan for retirement consider individual long term care insurance?

It should.

An individual long term care insurance policy may provide you and your employees with:

  • relief from paying large long term care bills
  • options that fit a variety of budgets
  • savings on Federal income taxes

Now is the time to learn more.

Douglas W. Greene CFP® CLU®
101 Federal Street, Suite 800 | Boston, MA 02110
Phone 617-305-0360 | Cell 781-640-5718 | Fax 617-723-7275

Schernecker Property Services, Inc.

This winter we are delighted to spotlight one of our clients Schernecker Property Services, Inc. (SPS). They are committed to delivering outstanding customer service and exceptional value.
SPS is a full-service contractor that focuses on large-scale building envelope projects for condominium and multi-residential communities across New England.
For more than 25 years, SPS has built a reputation for doing the job right and standing behind its work -providing peace of mind for their clients.
 Click hear to read about their success stories!