Industry News

4 Tips for Claiming Higher Education Credits

The Internal Revenue Code offers two federal income tax credits for post-secondary education expenses: the American Opportunity credit, and the Lifetime Learning credit.

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True or False: Tax Returns Have Always Been Due on April 15th

The answer is FALSE!

Until 1955, returns were due on March 15. From 1913 to 1918, they were due even earlier, with taxpayers scrambling to meet a March 1 deadline.

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Employers: You Are Now Required to Use the New Form I-9

Employers must now use the new version of Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued the new version on November 14, 2016. Employers had until January 22, 2017, to begin using the new version of Form I-9. Through January 21, 2017, employers could still use the version of Form I-9 dated March 8, 2013.

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Don’t Overlook Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions

Many people itemize deductions on Schedule A of their tax returns, rather than taking the standard deduction. Your tax preparer will generally advise you to do so if your allowable itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction.

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IRS: Watch Out for a W-2 Scam Targeting Payroll and HR Departments

The IRS, along with state tax agencies, renewed their warning about an email scam that uses a corporate officer’s name to request employee W-2 forms from company payroll or human resources departments.

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Valuation of Business Assets in Divorce: One Case Provides Insight

Sometimes estranged spouses can remain fair, rational and civil during divorce proceedings. But in other cases, a divorce can turn ugly. When the couple’s assets involve a business interest, the situation can be extremely complex.

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Defaulting on Retirement Plan Loans May Cause Taxable Distributions

In one decision, the U.S. Tax Court concluded that the IRS was correct in determining that a taxpayer who failed to make timely payments on loans from her employer’s qualified retirement plan defaulted on the loans and received deemed taxable distributions from the plan. As a result, the taxpayer owed federal income tax and the 10% penalty tax on early retirement plan distributions. (Dora Martinez, TC Memo 2016-182.)

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Train Employees to Avoid Cybercrime

In an era of hyper-connectedness and a burgeoning global cybercrime industry, you can’t afford to hope you’ll just be lucky and avoid a successful attack. It’s essential to establish policies and procedures to minimize risk and train employees on how to protect your company.

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Factoring Uncertainty into the Value of Your Business

Businesses currently face numerous uncertainties in the marketplace. As President Trump and Republican congressional leaders work toward fulfilling their campaign promises, tax laws could substantially change, the estate tax could be repealed, and various laws and regulations (including the Dodd-Frank and Affordable Care Acts) could be repealed or revised. Interest rates and inflation could both rise. Economic relationships with other countries could also change. Some of these changes could be good for your business, while others could have negative effects on the value of your business.

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MBA Costs Can Be Deductible, But Don’t Get Carried Away

As an employee or self-employed individual, can you deduct the cost of getting an MBA? What about expenses incurred to improve your general knowledge? Two recent U.S. Tax Court decisions provide answers to these questions. But, first, here’s some background on when education costs can be deducted as business expenses.

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IRS Updates FAQs on Certain ACA Provisions

The Trump Administration and the Republican majority in Congress plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the coming months. In the meantime, however, employers must continue to comply with the existing rules for 2016, including the information reporting requirements and shared responsibility provisions.

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Tax Fraud Awareness: How to Protect Your Identity and Assets

The IRS, taxpayers and tax preparers share a common enemy: identity thieves. We all have a part to play in the fight against tax-related identity theft. Your role starts by learning the mechanics and warning signs. From there, taxpayers can take proactive steps to protect their data online and at home.

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Consider State Taxes When Deciding Where to Live in Retirement

When you retire, you may consider moving to another state — say, for the weather or to be closer to loved ones. State taxes also may factor into the equation. Here’s what you need to know about establishing residency for state tax purposes — and why the process may be more complicated than it initially appears to be.

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Important Tax Figures for 2017

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2017, as compared with 2016. Many of the dollar amounts are unchanged or have changed only slightly due to low inflation. Other amounts are changing due to legislation.

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Cures Act Approves HRAs for Small Employers

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act. In addition to funding medical research, accelerating cutting-edge treatments for rare diseases and adding significant reforms to the mental health system, the new legislation allows small employers to provide standalone Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees without paying penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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What Happens if a Trustee Commits Fraud?

If you are beneficiary of a trust, it is sometimes practically impossible to obtain information about the trust or the trustee’s activities. This may not be because of the trust’s terms or statutory requirements, but because the trustee believes it is unnecessary to respond to every beneficiary request. Trustees are given discretion in handling the assets and may not receive much oversight. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to the trustee committing malfeasance and/or fraud.

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Court: Student Athletes Aren’t Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Courts have consistently found that student athletes aren’t employees who are required to be paid under federal law — and a U.S. Appeals Court came to the same conclusion in a new case.

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Year-End Reminder: Don’t Forget FSAs

The holidays can be a joyous — but hectic — time of year. While you’re juggling shopping for gifts, decorating your home and planning get-togethers with friends and family, it’s easy to forget to spend any remaining funds in your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) before New Year’s Day. However, if you fail to observe the “use-it-or-lose-it rule,” you could forfeit any money left over in your accounts, unless a special provision applies.

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FBI Case Exposes Massive Telefraud Scheme

Do you dread getting phone calls from unfamiliar sources? It seems that callers are more likely to be aggressive solicitors, pushy telemarketers or even devious con artists than legitimate business people. Criminals typically target the elderly, disabled people or immigrants, threatening them with fines, penalties or deportation if they don’t make payments to the callers. In some cases, unsuspecting victims lose their entire life savings.

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Franchisor Agrees to Settle Dispute Between Franchisee and Workers

McDonald’s Corp. has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a 2014 class action lawsuit filed by workers alleging wage and hour violations at one of its franchises in California, even though the company issued a statement after the proposed settlement that said the company wasn’t a joint employer of the franchise workers.

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Debt or Equity? New Guidance Helps You Decide

Corporations can generally deduct interest on debts for federal tax purposes. A valid obligation exists if the parties intended to create a debt, and the debt is enforceable and unconditional. In contrast, a capital contribution is a direct or indirect contribution of cash or other property to the capital of a business entity. Generally, a contribution to the capital of a corporation isn’t treated as taxable income to the corporation, and the contributor can’t deduct the payment for tax purposes.

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Spotlight On Business Tax Trends

The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) is a nonpartisan Congressional committee that, among other things, assists in the analysis and drafting of proposed federal tax legislation and prepares reports that interpret newly enacted federal tax legislation. The JCT recently issued the Overview of the Federal Tax System as in Effect for 2016. Here are the details of that report, including some interesting trends about business taxes.

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IRS Extends Deadline to Provide 2016 ACA Forms to Recipients

The IRS announced that it is extending one of the deadlines for providing 2016 Affordable Care Act (ACA) information statements to recipients.

Specifically, the due date for furnishing to individuals the 2016 Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) and the 2016 Form 1095-C, (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) is extended from January 31, 2017, to March 2, 2017.

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New Overtime Rules Suspended for Now

Many employers have been wrestling with plans to comply with new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rules since last May. That’s when the rules were finalized, with a December 1 compliance deadline. Those new rules included raising the minimum salary overtime exemption to $913 per week from $455. A little more than a week before the deadline for the rules was to take effect, a federal court has issued an injunction, at least temporarily blocking implementation of the changes.

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Lessons from Tax Court – Retired Cop’s Cash for Unused Leave Wasn’t Excludable

The U.S. Tax Court has held that payments received by a police detective on his retirement — for unused sick and vacation time — were includable in income. Based on that conclusion, the court rejected the taxpayer’s argument that a portion of the vacation time and sick leave should be excludable. That portion of the payments, said the taxpayer, was accrued while he was on temporary disability leave and therefore was received under a workers’ compensation law for personal injuries or sickness.

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How Should You File Your Tax Return?

A divorced or divorcing couple’s tax filing status is determined as of the last day of a tax year. A couple in the process of divorce may find that they are still considered married for tax purposes even though they do not live in the same household.

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Report Predicts Record Contributions on Giving Tuesday 2016

November 29, 2016, is Giving Tuesday. Never heard of it? Known on social media as #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has grown into one of the biggest fundraising drives for the not-for-profit industry.

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It’s Time for Individuals to Plan for Taxes in 2016 and Beyond

Year end is rapidly approaching. It’s now time to consider making some moves that will lower your 2016 tax bill and get you into position for tax savings in future years. This article offers some year-end planning tips for individuals — while keeping the results of the recent election in mind.

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TAX QUIZ on the Annual Exclusion for Gifts

Q. How much money can you give to one person without triggering a gift tax return in 2017?

a. $14,000
b.
$15,000
c.
It depends on your income
d.
Any amount

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How to Make the Most of Medical Expense Deductions

With the ever-increasing cost of health insurance and medical care, you should be vigilant in finding ways to claim tax breaks related to health care. Unfortunately, that’s now harder than before because a change included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased the income-based threshold for deducting itemized medical expenses.

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Start Date of the New Federal Overtime Rule Faces Opposition

The U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would delay the start of new federal overtime pay rules from December 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017. However, President Obama has indicated he will veto the bill if it hits his desk.

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Follow the Rules When Hiring Holiday Season Workers

The rush is already on to line up seasonal help. Seasonal job postings on one recruiting website started to hit peak demand levels from prior years in early October, about a month earlier than usual. The projected total number of seasonal jobs this holiday season — between 640,000 and 690,000 — is expected by the National Retail Federation to be about the same as last year.

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The President-Elect’s Tax Plan: What the Future Could Look Like

With Donald Trump as the president elect and Republicans holding a majority in the U.S. House and Senate, GOP tax reform appears likely in 2017. While campaigning, Mr. Trump promised big tax changes. Here’s a digest of his proposals, according to his website.

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Year-End Tax Strategies for Small Businesses

It’s not too late to take steps to significantly reduce your 2016 business income tax bill and lay the groundwork for tax savings in future years. Here’s a summary of some of the most effective year-end tax-saving moves for small businesses under the existing Internal Revenue Code. After President Obama hands over the baton to his successor and new members of Congress are sworn into office in January, the tax laws could change. But here’s what we know now.

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Update on Home Mortgage Interest Deductions

The federal income tax rules on qualified residence interest have been around for many years, but there’s always a steady flow of disagreements between the IRS and taxpayers on these rules. Here are some background materials and recent developments on qualified residence interest that may affect you.

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Get Ready Businesses: Some Filing Due Dates Are Changing

Thanks to recent legislation, the due dates have been changed for some information returns and related statements and for some business tax returns. Here’s what you need to know.

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Fraud Alert: The ACFE Puts a Spotlight on White Collar Crime

The average organization loses 5% of its annual revenues to fraud, according to the 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Bear in mind, that’s the top line of your income statement, not the bottom. So, for every $1 million in annual revenue, your company is expected to lose an average of $50,000 to thieves.

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Managing the Ups and Downs of Seasonal Businesses

What do pumpkin patches, ski resorts, ice cream shops and accounting firms have in common? They’re all seasonal businesses that experience a surge in revenues during their busy seasons that tapers off in the slow season. Seasonal peaks and troughs present challenges that require creative planning and fiscal prudence.

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Follow Detailed Recordkeeping Rules for Vehicle Expense Deductions

Many business owners fail to follow the strict tax rules for substantiating vehicle expenses. But if your business is audited, the IRS will most likely ask for mileage logs if you deducted vehicle expenses — and it tends to be especially critical of the amount deducted if you’re self employed or you employ relatives. While the basics seem simple, there are numerous exceptions.

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Relief from Student Loan Debt: What Are the Tax Implications?

Today’s college students often leave school with an overwhelming amount of debt. In some cases, student loans are discharged (also known as being cancelled or forgiven). In other cases, these loans are paid off by an employer. Both actions have tax consequences for the student loan borrowers. We’ll explain the tax implications, but first, let’s cover some necessary background information.

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New Warning: Watch Out for Fake ACA-Related Tax Bill E-mails

In a new alert, the IRS warned taxpayers to be on guard against bogus emails telling recipients that they owe money for taxes related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IRS has received numerous reports from around the country about scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. The scam usually includes a fake CP2000 as an attachment to the email.

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New IRS Regs on Disguised Sales Affect Partnerships and LLCs

In October, the IRS issued new guidance targeting strategies that are used to exploit the tax benefits associated with partnerships and limited liability companies (LLCs) that are treated as partnerships for tax purposes. In a nutshell, under the new guidance, property transactions between partners and partnerships are more likely to be classified as disguised sales and, therefore, subject to taxes. Here’s a summary of the most important aspects of the new temporary and final regulations on disguised sales that apply to these entities.

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IRS Issues New Regs on Allocating Debt to Partners and LLC Members

On October 5, 2016, the IRS released new temporary and final Section 752 regulations. Sec. 752 of the Internal Revenue Code and related regulations explain how to allocate partnership debt among partners for purposes of calculating the basis of their partnership interests. This calculation determines what’s often referred to as the partners’ “outside basis” in the partnership (their basis for deducting losses and receiving tax-free distributions). In some situations, the new regulations make it more difficult for partnerships to manipulate the rules to increase the outside basis of certain partners for tax planning purposes. In most situations, however, the effects of the new regulations are neutral.

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IRS: We Disagree with Court Decision Involving Customer Loyalty Discounts

The IRS recently announced its “nonacquiesence” with a federal appeals court decision that held a retailer that issued loyalty discounts to its customers was entitled to deduct its liabilities attributable to discounts, which were accrued but hadn’t yet been redeemed. (IRS Action on Decision 2016-03)

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Consider Hosting a Family Meeting about Your Estate Plan

If you’re a business owner and a high-net-worth individual, you may want to gather your family members together to discuss the details of your estate plan. This can be especially important if you own a business that employs family members. These meetings are a little like the Scottish clan gatherings held hundreds of years ago by clan chiefs to discuss their succession and inheritance plans.

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Special Needs Trusts: What Expenses Can They Pay For?

A special needs trust or a supplemental needs trust can be established to help a disabled individual who is receiving assistance from the government — or is eligible to receive it. Disabled people, who cannot support themselves and rely on government assistance, are not allowed to have more than a certain amount of personal assets, so family members can’t just give them money to pay for just any expenses. The use of a trust can pay for some expenses and keep the disabled person from being disqualified from receiving public assistance, including Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security, because he or she has acquired too much money.

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IRS Publishes Travel Per Diem Rates for Fiscal Year 2017

Tired of preparing all the documentation needed to support business travel expenses? If your business reimburses employees for actual travel expenses, employees are required to collect receipts as they travel, noting the time, place and business purpose of each expenditure. Then, monthly expense reports must be reviewed and approved by management. Processing delays sometimes happen if documentation is incomplete or a supervisor questions the business purpose (or reasonableness) of an item. Employers must hold on to all of this documentation for several years in case the IRS questions business travel deductions. The per-diem and high-low methods are an alternative that can simplify your policies and procedures for reimbursing travel expenses.

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Compare and Contrast the Republican and Democratic Tax Platforms

With both major political party conventions finally behind us, it’s time to focus on the upcoming national election. Among their many differences, the Republicans and Democrats have widely divergent tax platforms. While platforms are always relatively nonspecific and not necessarily synced with what the presidential candidates have in mind, it’s still good to know what tax positions the two parties and their presidential candidates have staked out. Here’s a quick summary.

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3 Taxes People Love to Hate

Few people enjoy giving money to the IRS, but some types of taxes are viewed more unfavorably than others. Here are three worthy candidates vying for the title of most-hated tax.

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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Protect Valuable and Vulnerable Assets

Our world is more interconnected than ever before. The Internet has become an integral part of everyone’s business and personal lives. But along with Web-based opportunities come risks of breaches and associated losses. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has launched a series of education seminars this October as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The goals are to raise awareness about cybersecurity and to increase the U.S. resiliency against the threat of a cyber incident. Here, we reveal findings from two recent studies that underscore the importance of protecting your business against data breaches.

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New IRS Guidance for Designated Roth Accounts

Does your employer offer a 401(k), 403(b) or governmental 457 plan? If so, you may be able to set up a designated Roth account through your company’s plan. Then your Roth account will be allowed to receive designated Roth contributions that are taken out of your salary through so-called “salary-reduction contributions.” Here’s more on how this strategy works, why it may be advantageous for certain taxpayers and how new IRS regulations add greater flexibility to allocating distributed after- and pretax amounts.

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Industry News Archive