All posts by Pam Williams

NC Adult Care Home Update

by Rachel Owens

The NC Department of Health and Human Services sent out a memo dated July 15, 2015 with the latest information regarding General Statute 131D-4.2 – the Adult Care Home providers and their reporting requirements.  To comply with these requirements ALL facilities that receive State/County Special Assistance funds are required to file a cost report.  Those facilities that have 7 beds or more are additionally expected to have Agreed-Upon-Procedures performed.  dhhs

For facilities licensed under Chapter 122C (mental health supervised living facilities) the reporting period is July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015.  All other facilities are required to use the year end September 30, 2015 regardless of their fiscal year end.  These cost reports are due December 31, 2015.

More information is forthcoming about AUP instructions, and software.  Please continue to check our website and blog for additional information.

Langdon & Company LLP has extensive history working with the long-term healthcare industry. We offer a high degree of expertise and experience with the needs of Adult Care Home providers and would be happy to assist you in the timely filing of the Cost Report.  If you have questions, we will be happy to help you.  Contact [email protected] or [email protected]!

When Should I Start Receiving My Social Security Benefits?

by Leonora Bowman

Like all financial questions, the answer to this question is, “it depends.” social security

You can start drawing social security benefits based on your own work history as early as 62 and as late as 70. Currently, those of us, who are baby boomers, born between 1943 and 1954, 66 is our full retirement age.  The full retirement age increases 2 months each year until it reached 67.

There are several factors, which will help to determine when you should start drawing social security, the most important being if you and your family can financially afford to delay drawing social security until a later date.  For each month, after you reach your full retirement age, you will earn 2/3 of 1% delayed retirement credits, or 8% per year. You can only earn delayed retirement credits based on your work history.  By suspending receipt of your social security between 66 and 70, your monthly benefit will increase by 32%.  Obviously, if you can afford to do so, this is your best option.  Spouses and widows do not earn delayed retirement credits.

If you are married and the family can financially afford to do so, there are some choices you can make to optimize your family’s social security monthly benefit.

The first choice that can be made, once full retirement age is reached, is for the higher earning partner to file and suspend collection of his/her benefit.  This will allow two things to happen.  1) the spouse filing and suspending collection will begin to earn delayed retirement credits and 2) the lower earning spouse can begin drawing a spouse benefit, which may be higher than the amount he/she may have received based on his/her own work history.

File and restrict your benefit is another option that married couples can do if they are both over 62 and one is already drawing benefits.  The partner not already receiving benefits can file and restrict the benefit he/she receives to 50% of the spousal benefit to which he/she is entitled and allow his/her own benefit to continue to earn delayed retirement credits until he/she reach 70.  The partner choosing to file and restrict must have reached his or her full retirement age to choose this option.

Those who are divorced and were married to their former spouse for at least 10 years, are at least 62 and have not remarried, can elect to receive the divorced spouse benefit provided it is greater than the amount he/she would have received based on their own work history.

The Social Security Administration is a great resource if you have specific questions.  To determine which social security benefit path is best for you and your family, please contact Langdon & Company LLP or your financial advisor.

Leonora “Lee” Bowman ([email protected]) is a Manager in our Accounting Services practice.  She has over 25 years of experience in taxation and also specializes in multi-dimensional corporate accounting across various states.

Planning for College? Benefits of a 529 Plan

by Kendall Tyson

Most parents and many grandparents often worry about the increasing college costs for their children and grandchildren.  According to a recent article in USA Today, college tuition and fees have increased 1,120% since 1978.  Edvisors reports 70% of students borrow to go to college and take on an average $33,000 in student loans.

One way to help plan for upcoming college costs is to open a 529 plan.  A 529 plan is a qualified tuition program operated by a state or educational institution designed to help set aside funds for future college costs.  Under IRC Section 529, a qualified tuition program is exempt from income tax.  The earnings grow tax-free, and as long as the contributions and earnings are used for qualified educational expenses then the beneficiary does not report or pay tax on any distributions.

Almost every state now offers a 529 plan and the plan’s fund can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide.  A North Carolina resident can invest in a Virginia plan for a beneficiary who attends a Tennessee college, as long as the college is an eligible institution.  (Eligible institutions have been assigned a federal school code by the Department of Education).

Anyone can contribute to a 529 plan; the plan just needs a beneficiary.  While the contributions are not deductible for federal tax, the contributor is not subject to AGI limitations and contributions are considered a completed gift, which is excluded from the contributor’s estates.  The IRS even allows for contributors can elect to take contributions larger than the annual gift exclusion into account ratably over five years.

All distributions from the 529 plan must be used for qualified higher education expenses.  Qualified higher education expenses include the following:

  • Tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance of a designated beneficiary at an eligible educational institution;
  • Expenses for special needs services incurred in connection with enrollment or attendance
  • Room and board included for students who are at least half-time
  • Internet access or related services used by the beneficiary while enrolled at an eligible educational institution

Distributions from the plan will be reported a Form 1099-Q, Payments from Qualified Education Programs, showing the earnings and basis related to the distribution.  Any distributions not used for qualified expenses are included in income and subject to a 10% penalty.  Many individuals confuse the idea of using 529 funds to repay student loans.  Unfortunately, the repayment of prior year student loans does not meet the IRS definition of “qualified education expenses”.  Any distributions used to repay student loans are included in income and subject to the 10% penalty.

529 plans can also be rolled into another qualified tuition program for the same beneficiary or transferred to another beneficiary within the same family with no adverse tax consequences.

With the proper planning, a 529 plan can help ease the burden of increasing college costs with relatively low maintenance for the contributor.  For more information or help in finding a 529 manager or financial adviser, please contact our office.

Kendall Tyson ([email protected]), a Tax Manager at Langdon & Company LLP.  She specializes in physician/dentist practices, multi-state and nonprofit returns.

How Will the IRS and the States Handle Virtual Currency?

by Cody Taylor

bitcoinOver the last decade the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been faced with a brand new subject courtesy of our interconnected world: virtual currency.  Bitcoin is the most well-known but there are over 150 virtual currencies worldwide with some of the other larger ones being Litecoin, Darkcoin and Peercoin.  As these currencies have popped up and have become more popular the IRS needed to decide how to handle transactions conducted in these new currencies.  Bitcoin for instance is accepted at mainstream retailers such as Overstock.com, Dish Network and Expedia, among others.

The IRS issued guidance in the form of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  This setup tries to provide an overview for how transactions in virtual currencies will be handled for federal tax purposes.  What follows is an excerpt of the FAQs from IRS Notice 2014-21:

Q-1: How is virtual currency treated for federal tax purposes?

A-1: For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.

Q-2: Is virtual currency treated as currency for purposes of determining whether a transaction results in foreign currency gain or loss under U.S. federal tax laws?

A-2: No. Under currently applicable law, virtual currency is not treated as currency that could generate foreign currency gain or loss for U.S. federal tax purposes.

Q-3: Must a taxpayer who receives virtual currency as payment for goods or services include in computing gross income the fair market value of the virtual currency?

A-3: Yes. A taxpayer who receives virtual currency as payment for goods or services must, in computing gross income, include the fair market value of the virtual currency, 3 measured in U.S. dollars, as of the date that the virtual currency was received. See Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, for more information on miscellaneous income from exchanges involving property or services.

Q-4: What is the basis of virtual currency received as payment for goods or services in Q&A-3?

A-4: The basis of virtual currency that a taxpayer receives as payment for goods or services in Q&A-3 is the fair market value of the virtual currency in U.S. dollars as of the date of receipt. See Publication 551, Basis of Assets, for more information on the computation of basis when property is received for goods or services.

Q-5: How is the fair market value of virtual currency determined?

A-5: For U.S. tax purposes, transactions using virtual currency must be reported in U.S. dollars. Therefore, taxpayers will be required to determine the fair market value of virtual currency in U.S. dollars as of the date of payment or receipt. If a virtual currency is listed on an exchange and the exchange rate is established by market supply and demand, the fair market value of the virtual currency is determined by converting the virtual currency into U.S. dollars (or into another real currency which in turn can be converted into U.S. dollars) at the exchange rate, in a reasonable manner that is consistently applied.

Q-6: Does a taxpayer have gain or loss upon an exchange of virtual currency for other property?

A-6: Yes. If the fair market value of property received in exchange for virtual currency exceeds the taxpayer’s adjusted basis of the virtual currency, the taxpayer has taxable gain. The taxpayer has a loss if the fair market value of the property received is less than the adjusted basis of the virtual currency. See Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets, for information about the tax treatment of sales and exchanges, such as whether a loss is deductible.

The rest of IRS Notice 2014-21 and the remaining FAQs can be found at IRS Notice 2014-21 – Federal Taxation for Virtual Currencies.  At the state level the details of how virtual currency will be handled is still being worked out.  North Carolina currently has a bill in the state congress that addresses how the state wants to handle a number of issues associated with virtual currencies.  They even have a Virtual Currency Corner on the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks website dedicated to current virtual currency news and legislation.

If you have any dealings with virtual currency or might in the future, we would be happy to help answer any questions you may have.  Please contact our office for additional information.

Cody ([email protected]) is part of our tax staff at Langdon & Company LLP.  He focuses on high-net wealth individuals, and other various types of tax projects.

Time Management

by Brittany Spragins

As a working mother, I set out on a quest to find a better method of time management.  Trying to balance cooking, cleaning, child rearing, work, time with my husband, and some alone time has proven difficult; especially when the nagging voice in the back of my head tells me to keep pushing for career advancement.  I was about to resign myself to the thought that I would have to choose one, either wife and mother, or a career woman, when I stumbled across a book by Laura Vanderkam entitled “I Know How She Does It.”

This book looks at the lives of 143 women who make at least $100,000 a year and have at least 1 child under the age of 18 living at home.  The biggest secret for them is their ability to manage time.  Ms. Vanderkam explains that when you look at life a week at a time, rather than day by day, you can plan better.  For example, most women want the same routine every day, but cannot make time for working out 7 days a week.  What about having the same weekly routine where you work out 4 days a week, but different times of the day depending on the schedule of other activities?  To enable you to mentally change and accept this life changing structure, she recommends keeping a time log.  On it, you have your week broken down into 168 hours and you record your time in 30 minute increments.  After a week or two of collecting data, look at your time log and decide if this is how you would like to spend your time.  Prioritize the time with the essentials and then plan around that accordingly. She recommends looking for areas that you can combine, like working out and watching TV, or engaging in “functional fitness” where you exercise in your everyday activities like taking a brisk walk to your business meeting instead of driving to it.

As you start to learn your tendencies and consolidate overlapping activities, you can plan a week that will enable you to maximize your time with family, be more productive at work, and still enjoy some time for yourself.  Once you have a handle on your average week, start dreaming big to see where you can go with all of your extra time.

Think this sounds interesting?  Call Langdon & Company LLP today for additional perspective on how to better manage your time and other planning suggestions.  Check out more at Laura Vanderkam’s website http://lauravanderkam.com/.

Brittany ([email protected]) is an staff accountant serving in both our tax and audit departments.  She focuses on a variety of specific projects that are beneficial to the firm.

Opportunities for Tax Savings Using a Section 1031 Exchange

by Morgan Norris

What is a Section 1031 exchange? exchange-money

An exchange using Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code occurs when you sell an investment property and subsequently purchase another similar property within a certain amount of time.  This exchange is also known as a “like-kind” exchange, and can be used to postpone paying tax on the gain from the property sale if all the IRC requirements surrounding the exchange are met.  A Section 1031 exchange is reported on Form 8824, Like-Kind Exchanges.

Who qualifies?

Owners of investment and business property; including individuals, C corporations, S corporations, Partnerships, LLC’s and trusts can all qualify to take part in the Section 1031 exchange.

What are the requirements?

There must be an exchange of properties.  Examples of property exchanges include:  a simultaneous swap of one property for another or a deferred property exchange.  A deferred exchange allows you to dispose of a property, and then identify and purchase another property within a certain window of time.  Two time limits must be met in order to avoid a taxable event during a deferred exchange.  The first time limit requires you to identify potential replacement properties within 45 days from the date of the original property sale.  Your identification of the potential property must be in writing and must follow certain additional rules in order to be valid.  The second time limit requires that the replacement property be received and the exchange completed no later than 180 days subsequent to the sale of the original property or the extended due date of the income tax return for the tax year in which the relinquished property was sold, whichever is earlier.  The replacement property must be substantially the same as the property identified in the original paperwork issued.  There is no limit on how many times, or how frequently you can participate in a Section 1031 exchange.

Ways in which taxable gain may result

The exchange can include like-kind property exclusively, or a combination of like-kind property and cash, liabilities and/or non-like-kind property.  Exchanges consisting of cash, debt relief or non-like-kind property may trigger some taxable gain in the year of the exchange.  Taxable gain may also be generated from taking possession of cash from the sale of the relinquished property.  A Section 1031 exchange requires that a third party, such as a qualified intermediary, hold the proceeds from the original sale until the full exchange is complete.  Your real estate agent, broker, accountant or attorney may not act as your qualified intermediary.  Additional stipulations are also placed on the qualified intermediary.

Depreciation recapture may also be the result of certain exchanges.  This is taxed as ordinary income, and is usually the result of swapping items that are not necessarily of like-kind, such as improved land with a building for unimproved land without a building.

The fine print

A properly constructed Section 1031 exchange allows one to defer; but not forgive, taxable gain.  It is pertinent that the basis in each additional property purchased be tracked until the last replacement property is eventually sold.  Once this occurs, taxable gain will be calculated using the basis schedule.

Morgan ([email protected]) is a tax senior at Langdon & Company LLP.  She has experience with individual and corporate tax preparation.  Please contact our office if we can provide additional information.

Are YOU a Victim of Tax Identity Theft?

by Susan Dean

If you have received a 5071C letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you may indeed be a victim of tax identity theft. The purpose of the 5071C letter is to inform you that the IRS has received a tax return with your name and/or social security number and need to verify your identity. In an effort to protect the taxpayer, the letter provides two options to contact the IRS and confirm whether or not you filed your return. Taxpayers may use the idverify.irs.gov site or call a toll-free number on the letter. Due to the high-volume of calls, the IRS-sponsored website is the safest, fastest option for taxpayers with web access.

Below is a Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft posted by the IRS.

ID theftWhat is tax-related identity theft?

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

Generally, an identity thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.

Know the warning signs

Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states that:

  • More than one tax return was filed using your SSN;
  • You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

Steps to take if you become a victim

  • File a report with law enforcement.
  • Report identity theft at gov/complaint and learn how to respond to it at identitytheft.gov.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
  • Contact your financial institutions, and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
  • Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually. You can create an account online at ssa.gov.

If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, take these additional steps:

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to instructions.
  • Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. We have teams available to assist.

How to reduce your risk

  • Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or any document with your SSN on it.
  • Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask – only when absolutely necessary.
  • Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer.
  • Check your credit report annually.
  • Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or the Internet unless you have either initiated the contact or are sure you know who is asking.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Report suspicious online or emailed phishing scams to:[email protected] For phishing scams by phone, fax or mail, call: 1-800-366-4484. Report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting.

This excerpt and additional Q&A information on Identity Theft can be found on the IRS website.

Financial Considerations Before Tying the Knot

by Dwayne Murphymarriage

There are a number of things to consider when getting married among them are various financial considerations. Below are just a few items to discuss with financial implications:

  • Discuss past financial issues and future goals such as:
    • Current income, debt and spending habits.
    • Career paths and goals – such as are there plans in going back to school, career changes or job relocations.
    • Children, how many, and if they will be in day care or if one parent will stay home and if they plan or want to go back to work at some point.
    • Whether you might have an older parent living with you in the future and all the financial costs that would be involved.
    • Retirement planning and goals – as in your current situation, what your end goal is and how you plan to get there. Then determine if you want to start a combined retirement account or keep your individual retirement accounts separate.
  • Discuss who will handle the finances:
    • While you may want to designate one of you to handle the finances, both of you should be aware of your goals, spending habits and investments. This will make both of you feel responsible for saving and want to help contribute.
  • Joint or separate accounts?
    • Joint Accounts
      • Trust is the key here as this is probably the most convenient as all the money goes in and comes out of one account. However, if one of you makes more money or has more debt than the other then it could seem unfair to share everything.
      • Another option is to share a common account as well as keep separate accounts. The common account would be for common bills and to save for common goals such as a house. The separate accounts would be for individual spending habits. The issue here is how much each of you will contribute to the joint accounts, especially if one of you makes considerably more than the other.
    • Separate Accounts
      • This could be the easiest solutions for people with large balances in accounts that would be a hassle to move and not having to worry about opening another credit card in both names. The issue here is who is responsible for what bills and for saving towards common goals.
    • Tax considerations
      • First, understand the tax brackets and how your new income will be affected. Then update your withholding form W-4 and applicable state form to adjust the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck. This hopefully should keep you from getting a shock come tax time.

In conclusion there are a number of things to consider when getting married and lot of them have financial implications. Hopefully by discussing some of the items above it will help to achieve a healthy financial marriage.  Contact our office for additional tax advice.

Dwayne ([email protected]) is an Audit Senior with Langdon & Company LLP.  He mainly works with various types of non-profit associations.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself and Organization Against Cyber Threats

by Meagan Bulloch

In light of recent data breaches at major retailers in the US, the public have been reminded just how vulnerable both their personal and organization’s data is to cyber-attacks.  This has left many companies scrambling to make sure the data they are entrusted with does not become the target of another round of headlines and lawsuits.identity_theft

While you are never 100% protected from hackers, here are five ways you can reduce your risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack:

  1. Strong Complex Passwords – It seems this advice has been given year after year and almost seems trite, however, for many; passwords are the first level of defense against a cyber-attack.  As such, it is ever more critical that passwords be lengthy, complex and changed often.  According to the SANS Institute’s sample password policy available at https://www.sans.org/security-resources/policies/general/pdf/password-protection-policy  a strong password is at least 15 characters in length.  For many, the deterrent to having a complex password or changing it often is the issue of remembering the complex password.  If this is a concern for you or your organization, you should consider implementing a password management tool such as RoboForm, Password Depot, and LastPass to assist in creating, storing and recalling passwords.
  2. Alternative Authentication Measures – If you have already tackled your passwords what else can you do?  As an additional layer of protection many are considering the use of alternative authentication measures such as fingerprint readers and key fobs.  Basic fingerprint readers can be purchased for only $35 in today’s market.  Using such devices can eliminate the need for a password to log in to a computer.  If the objective is to protect extremely sensitive data then the use of a multifactor authentication may be the best option.  This would involve an employee using both a password and something held in their possession – such as a code generated by a key fob- to log into a computer, application or website.   By requiring two forms of authentication you can greatly reduce the access a hacker could have to your system.
  3. Develop a formal policy for “BYOD.”  Often referred to today as “bring your own device” has created a new level of vulnerability for organizations.  In today’s environment it can be very beneficial for employees to be connected to an organization’s email and other network data through a mobile device.  The issue comes when this access is obtained informally by employees and not managed by the organization.  Often the organization has no way of knowing which devices are attached to their network and therefore, cannot take the necessary security measures to protect sensitive organizational data.  To protect your organization it is imperative to develop a formal BYOD policy that address security issues before an employee can connect their personal device to your network.  If devices have already been connected, you should implement a BYOD policy retroactively.  Regardless, each employee should agree to the policy and indicate so through a signature before they can access the organization’s network.  The BYOD policy should at a minimum include the following: the fact that the organization owns the data the employees will access, the procedure for erasing the organization’s data from the device in the event the employees leaves the organization, which type of websites and applications can be accessed, security measures the end user must implement as a condition of accessing the organization’s network, and the process for notifying appropriate organizational personnel in the vent a device is lost or stolen.  See sample policy template at http://www.itmanagerdaily.com/byod-policy-template/.

While each of these tools is important independently, a layered approach is truly the best defense against a cyber-attack for you or your organization.

Meagan Bulloch ([email protected]) is an audit manager at Langdon & Company LLP focused primarily on non-profit clients.

The Importance of Separation of Duties

by Katie Anthony

It is important to have levels of separation of duties in your business. You may say that you are a very small business and cannot afford to have many employees. That may be true, in which case you can add approval and double sign-offs on items of significance as well as review of certain processes. You may be in a situation where you do not even have enough employees to do this. In such a case, it might benefit your company to set up a monthly or quarterly review by an outside accounting firm.

You may be asking why separation of duties is so important. A big reason is that although a greater number of frauds are perpetrated by employees low on the ladder, greater amounts are stolen by employees at the management level. The ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse: 2014 Global Fraud Study reports that employees committed 42% of occupational frauds but caused a median loss of $75,000, while executives committed 19% of occupational frauds with a median loss of $500,000. These high level employees are trusted and intelligent, so they are able to get away with the fraudulent activities for a longer period of time, enabling them to steal larger amounts of money.fraud triangle

There are three elements to occupational fraud, which are opportunity, rationalization, and pressure, as credited to Donald Cressey. He believed that these three elements must all be present for an ordinary person to commit fraud (Fraud Examiners Manual: 2014 US Edition).

Let’s start with rationalization. You may not think you are able to influence someone else’s rationalization. However, some people rationalize fraudulent actions by saying that they are owed what they are stealing from the organization because they feel underappreciated. You need to take steps to make sure that you pay your employees appropriately for their roles and that you do things occasionally to show your employees that you appreciate them. Employees sometimes even rationalize their behavior based on what they see employees higher than themselves doing. That means you! Keep in mind that your employees are watching you to set the tone of the business.

While you cannot remove pressures employees feel from those outside of your organization, you can make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on them from within. This means doing evaluations that are not only one-sided, but rather structured so that your employees can give feedback about their workloads and stress levels. If you overwork your employees they may feel pressure to take shortcuts that eventually lead to fraudulent actions.

Last but not least, is opportunity. Separation of duties and reviews can really help with this element. If employees feel that no one looks at their work, they may take that opportunity to begin stealing, especially if the other two elements of the fraud triangle are present. By adding separation of duties and reviews, you are filling a gap that will help keep your business healthy. If, despite all your precautions, one of your employees IS stealing, separation of duties and reviews will help catch them. The ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse: 2014 Global Fraud Study goes on to show that review is second only to a tip in discovering frauds in small businesses.

While no plan to prevent and detect fraud is perfect, each step you take will help. Langdon and Company LLP knows that you want to keep your business healthy and thriving. L&C can help you define the duties in your processes that need separation as well as provide review services for your organization. Contact our office today with any questions or concerns you have.

Katie ([email protected]) is an Audit Staff at L&C and works with a variety of clients.