All posts by Rachel Owens

Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties

by Tony Pandiscia

The Internal Revenue Service “IRS” has recently been issuing “226J Letters” to businesses to conduct inquiry into whether compliance was properly maintained under the Affordable Care Act [“ACA”] for the 2016 Tax Year.  While the IRS has been authorized to issue this correspondence in the past, the 2016 Tax Year is significant because it marks the first year following the sunset of favorable “transitional relief” rules that had been available in prior years for businesses that were not in compliance with the ACA.  When a business is not in compliance with the ACA healthcare mandate, the result is exposure to the “employer shared responsibility penalty” [or “ESRP”].

A business may incur the “ESRP” under the ACA when it is an applicable large employer [“ALEs”] whom fails to offer:

  • “minimum essential” health insurance coverage to its full-time employees and their children, or
  •  insurance coverage that is “considered affordable”.

Technical rules help determine exactly whom is an ALE [i.e. how to properly count the “full-time equivalent” employees], what would be considered “minimum essential” [health insurance coverage], as well as whether the premiums charged employees were “considered affordable”.  Most businesses confronted the myriad of health insurance options designed to meet ACA compliance beginning back in 2013 when the law was initially announced, although various provisions of the law effectively delayed the assessment of penalties until after January 1, 2015 to give businesses ample time to implement suitable health insurance programs and permit the IRS opportunity to develop adequate record keeping and tracking mechanisms.

It is important to understand that receipt of a the 226J Letter is not the actual assessment of the liability.  Instead it is a notification from the IRS that based on certain records in its database, the business may be subject to the ESRP and the business now has the responsibility to formally contest or confirm the assertion.  [Typically the records the IRS has analyzed include Forms 1094, 1095, W-2 along with the Premium Tax Credit database that is populated through the “Exchange” where individuals obtained coverage through “Healthcare.gov”.]  The formal response to the 226J Letter must be submitted to the IRS using Form 14764, plus attachments.  Included in the 226J Letter will be a “response deadline” [generally 30 days from the date of the letter] for which a business owner must submit the response or by default the IRS will assume no additional evidence is available to refute the ESRP assertion.

Due to the complexity and time-constraints involved, upon receipt of a 226J Letter a business owner should immediately contact a Tax Professional to assist with the response process.  The format of the Form 14764 allows for submission of explanations and substantive documentation that may help update or correct the IRS’ records, as well as counter (if applicable) the government’s ESRP assertion.  As with other IRS dispute resolution matters, reliance on a qualified Tax Professional will permit the business owner to avail him/herself of all applicable ESRP response strategies (including extensions of time, available exemptions, review of formula computations and ratios, and even installment payment plan negotiation attempts, as necessary).  Langdon & Company LLP is well-versed in ESRP issues, so feel free to connect with us if you have any questions.

Adult Care News

Adult Care Homes (ACH) and other types of Group Homes in North Carolina have compliance requirements under the General Assembly’s Statute 131 D-4.1-4.3.  In May, DHHS sent out letters to all affected providers to remind them of this obligation.  These legislative changes mandate that cost reports be filed for these facilities every two years.  2019 is an on year for facilities licensed as an Adult Care Home (131D), Nursing Home with Adult Care beds (131E), or Mental Health living facility (122C).  Facilities that do not receive State/County Special Assistance revenue can file an exemption.

Along with the cost report, facilities with over 7 beds are additionally required to have Agreed-Upon-Procedures (AUPs) performed.  Depending on the type of facility, determines the extent of the procedures.  The Office of the Controller just released the procedures required for 2018-2019 which can be found here.

Langdon & Company has an extensive history with these requirements and we keep a great rapport with the acceptance bodies to ensure that our reports are filed correctly and timely.  We would love the opportunity to discuss the obligations of your facility and assume the responsibility of this mandate.  If you have additional questions, please contact us.

NC Medicaid Compliance Update

by Rachel Owens

North Carolina requires program-specific reporting of facilities/homes based on their license. For many facilities this is not a new requirement, however, for adult care, mental health and dual-licensed facilities this is only required every other year.  This year is an on year.  Compliance with these state requirements fulfill the mandate enforced by the North Carolina General Assembly under General Statute 131 D-4.1-4.3 through the Office of the Controller.  Facilities that do not receive funds through State/County Special Assistance are exempt, but all others must complete a cost report.  The deadline for which, is just a few short months away – September 30, 2019!

What report is my facility required to file?

Requirements of the statute vary depending on the license and the number of beds in the facility.  Facilities with 6 beds or less are required to prepare a cost report only.  Facilities with 7 or more beds must complete a cost report and have agreed-upon-procedures performed by an independent CPA.  The larger facilities with 31 beds or more have additional requirements for their cost report this year.

There are many factors to consider to determine exactly what is expected of each facility and what period is to be reported.  The repercussions of non-compliance of these requirements are suspended admissions or worse!  The OOC office anticipates releasing updated cost report information and agreed-upon-procedures in the next few weeks.  The healthcare industry continues to be an ever-changing environment and we continue to be on the look out for additional information as the deadline approaches.  We would be happy to answer any questions you have and would appreciate the opportunity to serve your organization.

 

Financial statements tell your business’s story, inside and out

Ask many entrepreneurs and small business owners to show you their financial statements and they’ll likely open a laptop and show you their bookkeeping software. Although tracking financial transactions is critical, spreadsheets aren’t financial statements.

In short, financial statements are detailed and carefully organized reports about the financial activities and overall position of a business. As any company evolves, it will likely encounter an increasing need to properly generate these reports to build credibility with outside parties, such as investors and lenders, and to make well-informed strategic decisions.

These are the typical components of financial statements:

Income statement. Also known as a profit and loss statement, the income statement shows revenues and expenses for a specified period. To help show which parts of the business are profitable (or not), it should carefully match revenues and expenses.

Balance sheet. This provides a snapshot of a company’s assets and liabilities. Assets are items of value, such as cash, accounts receivable, equipment and intellectual property. Liabilities are debts, such as accounts payable, payroll and lines of credit. The balance sheet also states the company’s net worth, which is calculated by subtracting total liabilities from total assets.

Cash flow statement. This shows how much cash a company generates for a particular period, which is a good indicator of how easily it can pay its bills. The statement details the net increase or decrease in cash as a result of operations, investment activities (such as property or equipment sales or purchases) and financing activities (such as taking out or repaying a loan).

Retained earnings/equity statement. Not always included, this statement shows how much a company’s net worth grew during a specified period. If the business is a corporation, the statement details what percentage of profits for that period the company distributed as dividends to its shareholders and what percentage it retained internally.

Notes to financial statements. Many if not most financial statements contain a supplementary report to provide additional details about the other sections. Some of these notes may take the form of disclosures that are required under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — the most widely used set of accounting rules and standards. Others might include supporting calculations or written clarifications.

Financial statements tell the ongoing narrative of your company’s finances and profitability. Without them, you really can’t tell anyone — including yourself — precisely how well you’re doing. We can help you generate these reports to the highest standards and then use them to your best advantage.

© 2019

Nonprofits should be prepared for sudden outpouring of support

Americans gave unprecedented sums to charity in response to the devastating hurricanes last year. Large organizations, such as the American Red Cross, were equipped to handle the huge influxes of donations. However, some smaller charities were overwhelmed. Although it may seem like an unlikely problem, your not-for-profit needs a plan to handle a potential outpouring of support.

Know what’s normal

Perhaps the biggest lesson to learn from recent disasters is to always have an expansion plan in place. When the influx of online giving reached critical mass, many organizations found that their websites overloaded and went offline. Their sites had to be moved to more powerful servers to handle the increased traffic.

Keep track of “normal” website hits, as well as the numbers of calls and email inquiries received, so you won’t be caught off guard when you start to surpass that amount. Also, know your systems’ ultimate capacity so you can enact a contingency plan should you approach critical mass.

Mobilize your troops

Having an “early warning system” is only one part of being prepared. You also need to be able to mobilize your troops in a hurry. Do you know how to reach all of your board members at any time? Can you efficiently organize volunteers when you need extra hands quickly? Be sure you have:

• An up-to-date contact list of board members that includes home, office and mobile phone numbers,
• A process, such as a phone tree, so you can communicate with the board quickly and efficiently, and
• One or more emergency volunteer coordinators who can call and quickly train people when you need them.

Also conduct a mock emergency with staff and volunteers to learn where you’re prepared to ramp up and where you’re not.

Build relationships

A surge in donor interest may mean a surge in media attention. While it might be tempting to say, “not now, we’re busy,” don’t pass up the opportunity to publicize your organization’s mission and the work that’s garnering all the attention.

In most cases, the immediate surge of interest eventually wanes. Before that happens, start to build lasting relationships with new donors and media contacts. Inform them about the work your organization does under “normal” circumstances and suggest ways to get them involved.

© 2018

Why employers are taking another look at life insurance as a fringe benefit

In their continuing effort to assemble the most enticing employee benefits package possible, some employers are showing renewed interest in an old favorite: group term life insurance. Although such life insurance coverage had fallen off the radar screens of some employers, it remains an affordable benefit that can pay off for employer and employees alike.

Employer upside

For you, the employer, the upside is considerable. Premiums you pay for group term life insurance are generally tax-deductible and, because claims occur so infrequently, the coverage is typically simple and inexpensive to administer compared with other fringe benefits. When covered employees do pass away, the paperwork is fairly straightforward.

But perhaps the most important reason to consider offering life insurance as a fringe benefit is that employees want it. In fact, almost half of those who responded to MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, published in 2017, called life insurance a “must-have” benefit.

With the mounting concern among workers about financial wellness, life insurance is especially appealing to those with children or other dependents. Having it can reduce stress, strengthen organizational loyalty and increase productivity.

Employee costs

For employees, group term life insurance usually isn’t a taxable benefit. More specifically, the cost of the first $50,000 of coverage you provide generally is tax-exempt for the covered employee if you meet certain conditions. But you must include in the employee’s income the cost of coverage exceeding $50,000, less any amounts the employee paid toward the coverage. The amount included in income is also subject to payroll taxes (Medicare and Social Security, or FICA).

What if you provide coverage for an employee’s spouse or dependent? The cost of such group term life insurance coverage is tax-exempt to the employee if the coverage doesn’t exceed $2,000. If it does, the entire cost of coverage generally is taxable.

Note: The cost of coverage for tax purposes is calculated according to an IRS table, not the actual premiums paid.

Eligible participants

Once you decide to offer life insurance, you’ll have to determine which employees will be eligible. The more insured employees, the lower the rates you’ll pay.

Bear in mind that, if you offer the benefit only to key employees or in a way that favors key employees, it probably will be taxable to them because you’ll have trouble satisfying the IRS nondiscrimination requirements. The cost also would be subject to payroll taxes, and you’ll risk alienating the rank and file.

A valuable tool

All in all, group term life insurance is a worthwhile benefit to consider adding to the mix. Structured properly and combined with other desirable benefits, it can prove a valuable tool to boost recruitment and retention. We can provide you with more information on the tax impact and advantages of life insurance, as well as other fringe benefits to consider.

© 2018

6 ways to get more value from an IT consultant

IT consultants are many things — experts in their field, champions of the workaround and, generally, the “people persons” of the tech field. But they’re not magicians who, with the wave of a smartphone, can solve any dilemma you throw at them. Here are six ways to get more value from your company’s next IT consulting relationship:

1. Spell out your needs. Define your desired outcome in as much detail as possible up front, so that both you and the consultant know what’s expected of each party. To do so, create a project scope document that clearly delineates the job’s purpose, timeframe, resources, personnel, reporting requirements, critical success factors and conflict resolution methods.

2. Appoint an internal contact. Assign someone within your organization as the internal project manager as early in the process as possible. He or she will be the go-to person for the consultant and, therefore, needs to have a thorough knowledge of the job’s requirements and be able to fairly assess the consultant’s performance.

3. Put in some prep time. Before the consultant arrives, prepare his or her workstation, ensuring that any equipment you’re providing works and allows appropriate access to the required systems — including email. Don’t forget to set up the phone, too, and add the consultant to your company phone list. Also, alert your staff that you have engaged a consultant and, to alleviate potential concerns, explain why.

4. Roll out the welcome wagon. Try to arrange an orientation on the Friday before the start date (assuming it’s a Monday). That way, you can give the consultant the project scope document as well as a written company overview (perhaps your employee procedures manual) that includes policies, safety protocols, office hours and tips on company culture to review over the weekend.

5. Keep in touch. Conduct regular project status meetings with the consultant to assess progress and provide feedback. Notify the consultant or the internal project manager immediately if you suspect the job is off track.

6. Conclude courteously. If you need to end the consulting engagement earlier than expected (for reasons other than poor performance) or extend it beyond the agreed-on timeframe, give as much notice as possible.

Act toward a good consultant as you would any valued vendor with whom you’d like to work again. After all, establishing a positive relationship with someone who knows your business could provide even greater return on investment in the future. Our firm would be happy to explain further or explore other ideas.

Holding a fundraising auction? Make sure your nonprofit is tax-compliant

Auctions have long been lucrative fundraising events for not-for-profits. But these events come with some tax compliance responsibilities.

Acknowledging item donations

If you auction off merchandise or services donated to your charity, you should provide written acknowledgments to the donors of the auctioned items valued at $250 or more. You won’t incur a penalty for failing to acknowledge the donation, but the donor can’t claim a deduction without substantiation, which could hurt your ability to obtain donations in the future.

Written statements should include your organization’s name and a description — but not the value — of the donated item. (It’s the donor’s responsibility to substantiate the donated auction item’s value.) Also indicate the value of any goods or services provided to the donor in return.

Other rules

Donors of services or the use of property may be surprised to learn that their donations aren’t tax-deductible. Alert these donors before they make their pledges. Also inform donors of property such as artwork that tax law generally limits their deduction to their tax basis in the property (typically what they paid for it).

If you receive an auction item valued at greater than $500 — and within three years sell the property — you must file Form 8282, “Donee Information Return,” and provide a copy to the original donor. Form 8282 must be filed within 125 days of the sale.

Substantiation for winning bidders

A contribution made by a donor who also receives substantial goods and services in exchange — such as the item won in the auction — is known as a quid pro quo contribution. To take a charitable deduction, winning bidders at a charitable auction must be able to show that they knew the value of the item was less than the amount paid. So provide bidders with a good faith estimate of the fair market value of each available item before the auction and state that only the amount paid in excess is deductible as a charitable donation.

In addition, your nonprofit is required to provide a written disclosure statement to any donor who makes a payment of more than $75 that’s partly a contribution and partly for goods and services received. The failure to provide the disclosures can result in penalties of $10 per contribution, not to exceed $5,000 per auction.

Plan ahead

If you plan to hold a fundraising auction, don’t wait until the last minute to think about tax compliance. Contact us: We can help.

© 2018

A midyear review should go beyond financials


Every year is a journey for a business. You begin with a set of objectives for the months ahead, probably encounter a few bumps along the way and, hopefully, reach your destination with some success and a few lessons learned.

The middle of the year is the perfect time to stop for a breather. A midyear review can help you and your management team determine which objectives are still “meetable” and which one’s may need tweaking or perhaps even elimination.

Naturally, this will involve looking at your financials. There are various metrics that can tell you whether your cash flow is strong and debt load manageable, and if your profitability goals are within reach. But don’t stop there.

3 key areas

Here are three other key areas of your business to review at midyear:

1. HR. Your people are your most valuable asset. So, how is your employee turnover rate trending compared with last year or previous years? High employee turnover could be a sign of underlying problems, such as poor training, lax management or low employee morale.

2. Sales and marketing. Are you meeting your monthly goals for new sales, in terms of both sales volume and number of new customers? Are you generating an adequate return on investment (ROI) for your marketing dollars? If you can’t answer this last question, enhance your tracking of existing marketing efforts so you can gauge marketing ROI going forward.

3. Production. If you manufacture products, what’s your unit reject rate so far this year? Or if yours is a service business, how satisfied are your customers with the level of service being provided? Again, you may need to tighten up your methods of tracking product quality or measuring customer satisfaction to meet this year’s strategic goals.

Necessary adjustments

Don’t wait to the end of the year to assess the progress of your 2018 strategic plan. Conduct a midyear review and get the information you need to make any adjustments necessary to help ensure success. Let us know how we can help.

©2018

Audit Manager Announcement


Langdon & Company LLP is pleased to announce the promotion of Rebecca Lunn to audit manager.  Rebecca joined Langdon & Company LLP in 2014 and has over seven years of public accounting experience including work for Cherry Bekaert LLP in their Raleigh, NC office.  She is a graduate of Elon University with a Bachelor of Science and North Carolina State University with a Masters of Science in Accounting. 

Rebecca provides audit and attest services to clients primarily in the nonprofit, healthcare and small business industries.  She is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the Young Professional Network of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Join us in congratulating Rebecca!