Category Archives: Accounting Services

3 under-the-radar aspects of payroll recordkeeping

The phrase “payroll recordkeeping” may conjure images of paystubs and W-4s. But there are other aspects that often fly under the radar and lead to administrative slip-ups. Here are three examples.

1. Fringe benefit records

The tax code provides an explicit recordkeeping requirement for employers with enumerated fringe benefit plans, such as:

  • Health insurance,
  • Cafeteria plans,
  • Educational assistance,
  • Adoption assistance, and
  • Dependent care assistance.

You’re required to keep whatever records are needed to determine whether the plan meets the requirements for excluding the benefit amounts from employees’ taxable income.

Tax code provisions regarding fringe benefit records don’t specify how long records pertaining to fringe benefits should be kept. Presumably, they’re subject to the four-year rule that’s widely applicable to payroll recordkeeping. Thus, you should retain them for at least four years after the due date of any federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for the return period to which the records relate or the date such tax is paid, whichever is later.

Caution: To the extent that any fringe benefit records must also comply with ERISA Title I, a longer retention period of six years applies.

2. Unemployment tax records

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) requires employers to retain records relating to compensation earned and unemployment contributions made. Such records must be retained for four years after the due date of the Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return,” or the date the required FUTA tax was paid, whichever is later.

In addition, be sure to retain records substantiating:

  • The total amount of employee compensation paid during the calendar year,
  • The amount of compensation subject to FUTA tax,
  • State unemployment contributions made, with separate totals for amounts paid by the employer and amounts withheld from employees’ wages,
  • All information shown on Form 940 (with Schedule A and/or R as applicable), and
  • If applicable, the reason why total compensation and the taxable amounts are different.

Remember, record retention requirements are also set by the federal Department of Labor and state wage-hour and unemployment insurance agencies.

3. IRS informational returns

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires certain employers to file informational returns with the IRS — namely, Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C.

The B Forms are filed by minimum essential coverage providers (some self-insuring employers) to report coverage information. Meanwhile, the C Forms are filed by applicable large employers to provide information that the IRS needs to administer employer shared responsibility under the ACA, as well as receipt of premium tax credits. (Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are also furnished to individuals.) Retain these forms for at least three years from the reporting due date.

Also retain information returns and employer statements to employees on tip allocations for at least three years after the due date of the return or statement to which they relate.

Complex task

Paying employees is a complex task on its own; naturally, the recordkeeping involved can be challenging as well. Our firm can offer further assistance.

© 2018

How to boost the potential of your nonprofit’s special event

Not-for-profits use special events to raise large amounts in a short period of time. Most often, the donor receives a direct benefit from the event — such as dinner or participation in a gaming activity. But special events don’t always meet their fundraising goals. In fact, organizations can lose money on them. Following these steps can help boost your event’s potential and enable you to decide whether to hold it again in the future.

Step 1: Make a budget

Planning and holding a successful event is a process that should start with a budget. Estimate what you anticipate revenue to be. If costs are likely to be greater than revenue, consider forgoing the event. Of course, you can also come up with a less costly event or look for sponsors to help defray expenses.

Step 2: Develop a marketing plan

Determine the target audience for your event and the best way to reach that audience. For example, bingo nights are often popular with seniors. And they may be more likely to read about the event in the local newspaper than on your nonprofit’s blog.

Step 3: Account for everything

Track all of your event’s costs to arrive at an accurate net profit amount. For example, a gala’s costs could include:

• Amounts paid to market the event, such as printed invitations and paid advertisements,
• Amounts paid related to the direct benefit that the participant receives, such as food, drinks and giveaways, and
• Other actual event costs, such as rental space and wait staff.

Step 4: Evaluate the event

After the event, review a detailed statement of its revenue and expenses, and compare them to what was budgeted. Take a look at ticket sales: Did you bring in the amount you had anticipated? Was the attendance worth the amount of planning and organizing that went into the event? Next, evaluate money raised at the event itself. How much did your silent auction or raffle raise? Did you make more than the fair market value of the items donated?

Also review unexpected expenses. Were these “one-time” or “special” costs that aren’t likely to occur yearly, or are they recurring? The answers to these questions can help you determine if the event was a true success.

Crunching the numbers

Consider these results — along with changes in your organization and evolving economic conditions that could affect profitability — when determining whether your event is likely to be successful in the future. If you’re unsure, contact us. We can help you crunch the numbers.

© 2018

What Can We Do For You?

By Lee Byrd

Small business owners and nonprofit executives often wear many hats while managing their organization. Whether it’s day-to-day accounting or oversight of an internal accounting department, an accounting firm offers many services that will allow you to focus on the core strategies of your business. Here at Langdon & Company LLP, we offer a wide range of services from basic bookkeeping to acting in a CFO role to financial statement audits and tax return preparation. Often times you will find that the cost of hiring an accounting firm to perform these services is less than hiring an employee.

Bookkeeping Services

Many small organizations do not have the need or financial resources to hire a full-time employee to perform the day-to-day bookkeeping tasks. In such caserviceses, it may be helpful to seek the aid of an accounting firm that can provide services such as accounts payable and receivable, billing, payroll, bank reconciliations, general ledger entries and monthly financial reports. You will gain the knowledge of an experienced bookkeeper with access to CPAs within the firm at a cost effective rate.

CFO Services

Do you need the expertise of a Chief Financial Officer but can’t bear to add such a salary to your already tight budget? A CPA firm can offer the expertise of a CFO in tasks such as creating budgets, preparing financial statements, analysis of financial data, or review of your organization’s internal accounting personnel offering a greater segregation of duties. These services can be provided on a periodic basis, such as monthly or quarterly, or on a project by project basis, as needed throughout the year.

Audit and Attest Services

Whether it is at the request of a lender or required by the organization’s by-laws, many organizations feel the need for a higher level of review of the financial statements. CPA firms offer attest services that will provide the level of assurance needed. An Audit provides the highest level of assurance that the finaauditncial statements are free from material misstatement and includes the auditor obtaining an understanding of the client’s internal controls and assessing fraud risks. An audit is also the most costly level of attest service. While less costly, a Review is substantially narrower in scope than an audit and provides only limited assurance. A review consists mostly of inquiry and analytical procedures. If the audit or review services do not meet the needs of the organization, CPA firms also offer Agreed Upon Procedure (AUP) services. An AUP is an engagement in which an auditor is engaged to carry out procedures of an audit nature to which the auditor, the client, and any appropriate third party have agreed and to report on factual findings.

Tax and Consulting

In addition to day-to-day booking or more extensive oversight services, accounting firms also advise clients on financial strategies, such as lowering tax burdens, providing suggestions on a business plan, or suggestions on the most effective way to comply with third party regulations. CPAs can also assist with the preparation of state and federal tax returns.

Langdon & Company LLP is a full-service CPA firm committed to providing quality customer service in the highest professional manner. Contact us to see how we can help you!

Lee (lbyrd@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Manager with Langdon & Company LLP. She works with many not-for-profit and healthcare organizations.

Due Dates for Federal Payroll Taxes

by Eric Murphy

If you’re a Sole Proprietor, a Partner in a partnership, a member of an LLC, or an officer in a corporation, it’s likely you have employees and yourself on payroll.  Due to this fact, it’s necessary for you to pay payroll taxes for Federal Withholding, Social Security, Medicare, as well as North Carolina Withholding taxes.

The frequency in which you pay the taxes is determined by the payroll tax liability incurred in any given Quarter in the Calendar year as follows:

  • Liability under $2,500: If you are required to file Form 941 and your employment tax liability for the preceding quarter or current quarter is less than $2,500, you may pay the taxes for the current quarter with your timely filed return instead of making deposits. These would be filed the final days of the months following the end of the quarters on January 31st, April 30th, July 31st, and October 31st.  The NC withholding taxes paid in with Form NC-5 should be filed at the same time.
  • Liability of $2,500 or more: Unless you are eligible to make payments with your return, you must deposit your taxes. If you are a Form 941 filer and you are not sure your total tax liability for the current quarter will be less than $2,500, (and your liability for the preceding quarter was not less than $2,500), make deposits using the semiweekly or monthly rules so you won’t be subject to failure-to-deposit penalties.

Per IRS Tax Topic 757, if you reported taxes of $50,000 or less during the previous quarter, you are a monthly schedule depositor, and you generally must deposit your employment taxes on payments made during a given month on or before the 15th day of the following month. For example, you must deposit taxes on payments made in January by February 15. If the 15th of any calendar month falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the deposit is due by the next banking day.  This same schedule applies to paying NC withholding taxes with Form NC-5.

Per IRS Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide for use in 2015, the following payment schedule must be used for semi-weekly filers (Entities with over $50,000 of tax liability in the previous quarter):

  • Deposit Federal Withholding and FICA employment taxes for payroll payments made on us flagWednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday by the following Wednesday.
  • Deposit taxes for payroll payments made on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and/or Tuesday by the following Friday.
  • Per IRS Tax Topic 757, if any of the 3 days following the date of the payroll payments is a holiday, you have an additional day for each day that’s a holiday to make the payment. For example:  If payroll was paid on Friday, September 4th the payroll tax deposits won’t be due until the following Thursday, given that Monday, September 7th, was a holiday.

You will make your deposits online through www.EFTPS.gov and report your deposits quarterly by filing Form 941 or annually by filing Form 944, it all depends on what the IRS instructs you to file based on the payroll thresholds you report in your initial 941 report.

It’s also essential that NC unemployment taxes are paid in for the quarter in the month following the end of the quarter to the NC Division of Employment Security.  These are paid in with Form NCUI-101 and must be prepared with the proper SUI rate assigned to your entity from the NC Division of Employment Security at the beginning of the year.  If you need the rate, an operator at the Division can provide it for you as long you provide either your Employer Identification Number or Account ID number assigned by the Division.  This should be filed at the same time as Form 941 is filed with the IRS.

If you have questions about your payroll taxes and withholdings, contact our office and speak to our payroll specialists.  Langdon & Company LLP has experienced professionals that would be glad to assist you in these matters.

Eric (emurphy@langdoncpa.com) is a senior in our tax practice.  He prepares and reviews a combination of both corporate and individual tax returns.

Year-end filing of 1099-MISC

by Russell Barker

You might think 1099-MISC filing is a year-end job and does not need attention before that.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  You should always gather W-9 forms from applicable vendors whom you have paid year round.  A W-9 form is an IRS form in which the vendor provides name, address and tax identification number.  This number can either be a social security number or Taxpayor Identification Number (“TIN”). year-end-review-300x225

Generally, a 1099-MISC should be filed if the vendor is unincorporated AND amounts paid are:

  • at least $10 in royalties or broker payments in lieu of dividends or tax-exempt interest
  • at least $600 in rents, services (including parts and materials), prizes and awards, other income payments, medical and health care payments, crop insurance proceeds, cash payments for fish (or other aquatic life) you purchase from anyone engaged in the trade or business of catching fish, or, generally, the cash paid from a notional principal contract to an individual, partnership, or estate
  • any fishing boat proceeds
  • gross proceeds of $600, or more paid to an attorney during the year, or
  • withheld any federal income tax under the backup withholding rules regardless of the amount of the payment.

The reason to start gathering this information is because at year end, you may not have contact with a vendor or cannot reach them.

What are the ramifications if you do not get this information and you should have?  The expense that you are trying to claim may not be valid and you might not have a credit on your books for the expense.  In some cases, this can cause an increase to your net income and more taxes you will have to pay at year end.

The old saying of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  By obtaining and filing all W-9 forms, you will avoid a lot of unnecessary stress at year end. Langdon & Company LLP has a team of accounting service professional who are available to help with any of your Form 1099 questions.  Please contact our office for more information.

Russel Barker (rbarker@langdoncpa.com) is a Quickbooks ProAdvisor in our Accounting Services Department.  He works primarily with physician’s practices and other small businesses.

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 (kanthony@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Staff at L&C and works with a variety of clients.

SSARS 21: Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services: Clarification and Recodification

by Lee Byrd

Representing the most significant changes to the compilation and review literature in decades, the AICPA Accounting and Review Services Committee recently issued Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) No. 21. The guidance aids in drawing a definitive line between preparation and reporting services and is composed of four sections as follows:

  • Section 60 – General Principles for Engagements Performed in Accordance With Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services, provides a foundation for the other three sections and guides professionals on their responsibilities related to engagements performed in accordance with SSARS.
  • Section 70 – Preparation of Financial Statements, applies when an accountant is engaged to prepare financial statements but is not engaged to perform an audit, review or a compliation on those financial statements. Professional judgment should be used in determining the type of engagement requested by the client (i.e. whether the CPA is engaged to prepare financial statements or simply assist in their preparation). A report is not required for a preparation engagement but the CPA should include a legend on each page of the financial statements stating, “no assurance is provided.”
  • Section 80 – Compilation Engagements, applies when an accountant is engaged to perform a compilation engagement. The guidance provides new compilation report language, distinguishing this report from an assurance engagement report for audit or review services. CPAs may add additional paragraphs for explanatory purposes.
  • Section 90 – Review of Financial Statements, applies when an accountant is engaged to perform a review of financial statements. The accountants’ review report has been updated to require the use of headings in the report and the name of the city and state of the CPA’s issuing office.

Successful business group.CPAs are required to begin using SSARS 21 for financial statements with periods ending December 15, 2015 and thereafter; however, the standard allows for early implementation. The standard also requires a signed engagement letter for all SSARSs engagements, signed by both the CPA and management or those charged with governance. Additionally, while audit, review and compilation engagements require participation in a peer review program, preparation services do not fall within any of the aforementioned categories and therefore, are not subject to peer review.

Langdon & Company LLP‘s accountants are very familiar with this new standard and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.  Please contact our office for additional information.

Lee Byrd (lbyrd@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Manager at our Firm and has over 7 years of experience with a variety of clients.

Accounting Services Requirements

by Russell Barker

The accounting services department at Langdon and Company LLP utilizes a customized approach to serve many companies by providing varied aspects of a “backoffice” accounting department.  We can perform the following functions: accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, payroll and financial reporting.  We communicate with the client to ensure that we have the needed documentation to properly record transactions.  We process transactions on a monthly or quarterly basis for general ledger processing based on the clients’ needs.  We also provide payroll services and offer direct deposit.  To efficiently and effectively perform these functions, great communication is required.  There is supporting information and documentation that is needed.

Typically, for a small business items such as bank statements, invoices, billing records, loan records, amortization schedules, credit card statements, etc. are required in order post to the general ledger.  For payroll, employee information, hours and pay rate is needed.  In order to properly maintain fixed asset records, invoices and applicable financing records are needed.

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With the client providing all appropriate documentation on a monthly basis and L&C recording proper transactions, this will enable our year end process to be more efficient, precise and timely in order for the tax department prepare the clients tax returns in a timely fashion.

 

Russell Barker is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor in the Accounting Services department at Langdon & Company LLP.  He specializes in periodic reviews for a variety of physician’s practices.

 

IRS Unveils New Form for Organizations Applying for 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status

by Taylor Elliott

On July 1, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Form 1023-EZ as part of its efforts to streamline the application process for organizations seeking tax-exempt status.  The form is specifically designed for charities who wish to be classified as exempt under section 501(c)(3).  An organization must meet several criteria in order to be eligible to apply using the form, including a gross receipts test of $50,000 or less as well as an assets test of $250,000 or less. The form instructions outline additional criteria, including an eligibility worksheet that helps charities determine whether the form is right for them through a series of yes and no questions.

The IRS has indicated that the overall goal in developing Form 1023-EZ is to reduce the time and paperwork associated with providing a charity a determination as to its tax-exempt status. Previously, the IRS has been intensely criticized for a lengthy and cumbersome 1023 application process that includes an application backlog that is many months behind. Until now, all organizations, regardless of size, have been subject to the same 23-page form filled with a seemingly endless list of tedious questions, many of which are not relevant to smaller, simpler charities. After soliciting feedback from impacted parties, the IRS was able to whittle down to Form 1023-EZ, a three-page form containing only the most essential questions pertaining to determination of tax-exempt status of smaller organizations. According to IR-2014-77, as many as 70% of applicants are expected to be eligible to use this form, not only slashing the time spent by those charities in completing the application but also minimizing the time spent by the IRS in reviewing their files. The electronic filing requirement  is  also expected to increase the efficiency of the process. An application fee of $400 must be electronically submitted with the application as well.

For questions about this form or the tax-exempt application process in general, please contact our office.  We would love to discuss with you the ways that Langdon and Company LLP can help your organization obtain and maintain a tax-exempt status.

Taylor Elliott is a tax manager with Langdon & Company LLP. She specializes in tax compliance and planning, working with several not-for-profit organizations in the Triangle area.