Category Archives: Raleigh CPA Firm

The Scoop on Educational Tax Credits

by Taylor Elliott

booksThere are several educational tax credits and deductions available, but how and when do they apply? The IRS recently published the article “IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2014-23” to help taxpayers understand the tax benefits that are available when educational expenses have been incurred during the year. The following excerpt from that article outlines some key factors:

  • American Opportunity Tax Credit.  The AOTC can be up to $2,500 annually for an eligible student. This credit applies for the first four years of higher education. Forty percent of the AOTC is refundable. That means that you may be able to get up to $1,000 of the credit as a refund, even if you don’t owe any taxes.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit.  With the LLC, you may be able to claim a tax credit of up to $2,000 on your federal tax return. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim this credit for an eligible student.
  • One credit per student.  You can claim only one type of education credit per student on your federal tax return each year. If more than one student qualifies for a credit in the same year, you can claim a different credit for each student.  For example, you can claim the AOTC for one student and claim the LLC for the other student.
  • Qualified expenses.  You may include qualified expenses to figure your credit.  This may include amounts you pay for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Refer to IRS.gov for more about the additional rules that apply to each credit.
  • Eligible educational institutions.  Eligible schools are those that offer education beyond high school. This includes most colleges and universities. Vocational schools or other postsecondary schools may also qualify.
  • Form 1098-T.  In most cases, you should receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from your school. This form reports your qualified expenses to the IRS and to you. You may notice that the amount shown on the form is different than the amount you actually paid. That’s because some of your related costs may not appear on Form 1098-T. For example, the cost of your textbooks may not appear on the form, but you still may be able to claim your textbook costs as part of the credit. Remember, you can only claim an education credit for the qualified expenses that you paid in that same tax year.

The article also points out that income limitations as well as residence status must be considered. If you, a family member, or dependent has recently started college or gone back to school, please contact our office so that our dedicated tax professionals can help you navigate your particular facts and circumstances to determine what educational benefits are best for you.

Taylor Elliott is a tax manager with Langdon & Company LLP. She specializes in tax compliance and planning.

Tax Exempt Status Does Not Imply Freedom from All Taxes and Related Filing Requirements

by Tony Pandiscia,

As a CPA firm, we often encounter new or existing organizations inquiring about becoming tax exempt under a misconception that “tax exempt status” provides a broad immunity from all taxes and tax return filings.  As a refresher, Tax Exempt Organizations (or “TEOs”) attain a legal existence under the province of state law (such as North Carolina’s “Nonprofit Incorporation Statutes”) before applying for “tax exempt status” with our Federal Government.   Once the Internal Revenue Service grants a TEO Federal exempt status, a key benefit is the exclusion from income tax on all program service related revenue (i.e. revenues generated from activities directly related to a TEO’s exempt purpose).   However the following represent other tax-related filings and liabilities that nevertheless apply to TEO:

INCOME TAX FILINGS AND UNRELATED INCOME.  Although enjoying an exemption from income tax liability on “program service revenue”, to preserve its tax exempt status a TEO must annually file Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax and disclose all relevant financial information and exempt function policies and procedures.  In addition, whenever income is generated via activities that are not related to an organization’s stated exempt purpose, “Unrelated Business Income Tax” (or “UBIT”) is earned.  A UBIT tax return must be filed with both the Internal Revenue Service and North Carolina Department of Revenue and corresponding UBIT tax payments remitted.

SALES TAXES.  Apart from the income tax reporting requirements, TEOs are put on a nearly level playing field with all businesses and consumers with respect to North Carolina Sales & Use Tax.  North Carolina’s “Sales & Use Tax” is an ad valorem tax typically levied at the point of purchase, although a TEO may later recoup (via filing of a refund claim form) any taxes paid for purchases used directly in furtherance of its exempt purpose.

Beginning in 2015, TEOs who charge admission to attend a live function will be subject to Sales & Use Tax on the admission charge levied on attendees.  Only TEOs that rely entirely on volunteer workforce and do not compensate any of the performers in the entertainment event will qualify for exemption.   In addition, TEOs should properly designate those amounts that do not strictly represent a charge for admission (including membership fees, specific charitable donations, and payment for amenities such as parking or merchandise discounts) as they may excluded from the sales tax base.

SOLICTATION LICENSES.  All TEOs that solicit contributions in North Carolina must register with the Secretary of State and obtain a “Charitable Solicitation License” [“CSL”].  Once obtained, the organization must annually renew the CSL with the filing of a renewal form, payment of a fee, and submission of financial data.  A very narrow exemption from the licensing requirements applies for TEOs that solicit less than $25,000 of contributions per year and which are run entirely by volunteer labor.  Upon request, the Secretary of State does permit affiliate organizations to request a “consolidated” license that covers all organizations in the group.

In summary, as a sound tax policy designed to incentivize organizations to engage in charitable activities, tax exempt status grants to a TEO a valuable freedom from income tax on program service revenue. However organizations must remember that the exemption from income tax is not a blanket exemption from all manner of taxes and filing requirements.  Tax Exempt Organizations must plan accordingly to meet the filing and tax payment obligations, and avoid subjecting themselves to excessive penalties and exemption jeopardy.

Langdon & Company ADTony lead’s our tax department as an attorney and Certified Public Accountant with over twenty years of experience.  Tony consults regularly with exempt organizations on matters related to recognition and preservation of tax status, unrelated business income tax, executive compensation, and internal policy matters.  His expertise includes additional industries such as healthcare, real estate, research & development, manufacturing, and professional services.  Tony is a frequent seminar instructor for the North Carolina Association of CPAs, for local trade groups and is regularly called upon by litigation counsel to provide expert witness testimony.

Please feel free to contact our office for more information.  Tony and our highly qualified tax department are available to answer your tax questions and provide any assistance you may need.


Affordable Care Act: Additional Taxes – Effective 2013

by Lee Bowman 

In addition to the healthcare mandates that become effective in 2013, there are two new taxes within the Act that begin in 2013 to help offset the costs of the healthcare act.  They are the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and the .9% Medicare Tax on wages and self-employment income.

Net Investment Income Tax:  The 3.8% net investment income tax will only affect taxpayers when their modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $250,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers and surviving spouses; $200,000 for single taxpayers and head of household filers, and $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately.  If you claim the foreign earned income exclusion, the excluded amount will be added back to your AGI to arrive at your modified adjusted gross income.

Net investment income includes interest, dividends, royalties, annuities, rents and net gains from property sales.  Wages and net income from an active trade or business are not included in net investment income. Tax-exempt bond interest is excluded from the 3.8%  net investment income tax.  If your modified AGI exceeds the above amounts, you will be subject to the 3.8% tax which will be applied to the lesser of 1) your net investment income for the year or 2) the excess of your modified AGI for the tax year over your threshold amount.  This tax will be in addition to the income tax that applies to that same income.

When selling your primary residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of net gain or up to $500,000 for MFJ taxpayers.  This excluded gain will not be taxed.  Gain in excess of those exclusions may be taxed.  Distributions from Roth IRAs are excluded, however distributions from regular IRAs will be included in your modified AGI but is not subject to the 3.8% net investment tax, ut could cause other income to be subject to the 3.8% tax.  When making estimated income tax payments, taxpayers must include the 3.8% net investment income tax in their estimated payments in order to avoid a penalty.

Please note that the modified AGI amounts listed above will NOT be adjusted for inflation.

tax balance0.9% Tax on Wage and Self-employment Income:  The 0.9% additional Medicare Tax applies only to employees and self-employed individuals, not employers.  The tax applies to wages in excess of $250,000 for MFJ taxpayers; $125,000 for MFS, and $200,000 for all other filers.

Once an employee’s wages exceed $200,000, employers must withhold the additional 0.9% tax from their wages.  This may not be enough if the employee has another job, or if his spouse has wage or self-employment income.  The taxpayer may file a new Form W-4 with his employer to have additional taxes withheld.

Self-employed taxpayers will pay the additional 0.9% tax on their self-employment income using the same wage brackets listed above.  The 0.9% tax is in addition to the 2.9% Medicare tax on self-employment income; however, the taxpayer will not be allowed to deduct 50% of this additional Medicare tax on the front page of their return.

Because these new taxes are not inflation adjusted, more taxpayers will pay these taxes in the future.  The current Federal tax schedules can be found here.  2013 NC Income tax rate is 5.7% on all NC taxable income.

Langdon & Company LLP is full of knowledgeable tax staff that would be happy to assist you with your tax needs.    Please contact our office to get more information.

Lee Bowman (lbowman@langdoncpa.com) is a Manager in our Accounting Services practice at Langdon & Company LLP.  She has over 25 years of experience in taxation and also specializes in multi-dimensional corporate accounting across various states.

Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction

by Kendall Tyson

Many individuals who have a home office will be happy to know that taxpayers may use a simplified option when figuring their home office deduction.  Under the regular method, taxpayers must track their actual expenses, including mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation.  The taxpayer is then allowed a percentage of those deductions based on percentage of the taxpayer’s home devoted to business use.home office2

However, under the simplified option, the taxpayer’s deduction is $5 per square foot of home used for business, with a maximum of 300 square feet.  Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are then claimed in full on Schedule A.  There is no deduction for depreciation expense, but there is also no recapture of depreciation upon the sale of the home.

The taxpayer’s record keeping is greatly reduced under the simplified option, but the criteria for who may claim the home office deduction has not changed.  The two basic requirements for your home to qualify as a deduction still include:

  1. Regular and Exclusive Use – You must regularly use part of your home exclusively for conducting business.
  2. Principal Place of Your Business – You must use your home as your principal place of business. If you use both your home office and another location outside of your home, but your home office is substantially and regularly used to conduct business, you may still qualify for the deduction.

The IRS began allowing the simplified option in tax year 2013 (returns filed in 2014).  A taxpayer may use the simplified option for one year and then use the regular option the next year, but once a taxpayer has chosen a method for a taxable year, the taxpayer cannot later change to the other method for that same year.

Langdon & Company LLP has helped several clients determine which home office deduction method is most tax advantageous for them.  For questions about which method would be best for you, please contact our office.

Kendall (ktyson@langdoncpa.com) is a Tax Manager at Langdon & Company LLP.  She specializes in physician/dentist practices, multi-state and nonprofit returns.

The Fine Line: Debt vs. Equity

by Bennett Strickland

Distinguishing between debt and equity has long been debated in the accounting world and is one of the most complex issues in practice today.  Take an instrument like mandatorily redeemable preferred stock for example.  Is it classified as a liability or as equity?  This clearly affects reported amounts of liabilities and equity, and also things such as the debt-to-equity ratio and the asset-to-equity ratio.

debt equityThe line between liabilities and equity is also critical in measuring income.  So companies began to take advantage of manipulating their debt and equity and therefore manipulating their net income.  Neither changes in the values of a company’s outstanding equity instruments or transactions between a company and its owners, affect reported income.  Whereas, interest payments and at least some changes in the values of liabilities actually do affect reported income.

A lot of companies will try and classify their equity as debt and some may get away with it.  However, the consequences can be substantial if the IRS deems that the company needs to reclassify.  In Laidlow Transportation Inc. v. commissioner (TC Memo 1998-332), the taxpayer’s tax liability was increased by more than $55 million after the IRS made the company reclassify their debt as equity.  So when companies are walking the fine line of debt versus equity they must ask themselves, is it worth it?

The staff at Langdon & Company LLP are all too familiar with such an issue and would be happy to help your company decide which classification is proper.  Please contact our office for more information.

Bennett (bstrickland@langdoncpa.com) is an auditor at Langdon & Company LLP.  He primarily focuses on healthcare and nonprofit organizations.

Accounting Changes for Goodwill

by Dwayne Murphy

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-02 is giving private companies another option when it comes to accounting for goodwill. Effective for new goodwill recognized in annual periods beginning after December 31, 2014 (early adoption is permitted).  Private companies will be able to subsequently amortize goodwill on a straight-line basis over a period of ten years, or less if the company is able to demonstrate that a lower useful life is better suited.  Before this update U.S. GAAP did not allow any amortization of goodwill.Goodwill

FASB Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-02 also permits private companies to use a simplified impairment model, which allows them to test for impairment only when a triggering event occurs that would indicate that the fair value of a company (or a reporting unit) may have fallen below its carrying amount.  If the accounting alternative election is made, an additional election of whether to test goodwill for impairment at either the company level or the reporting unit level must be made.  Before this update U.S. GAAP required that testing of impairment be done at least annually and in some cases more frequently if certain conditions were met.

These changes should be beneficial to private companies as it allows for amortization expense and it lessens the burden of not having to test for impairment every year.

For public companies and not-for-profit companies the FASB is still considering the following alternatives for goodwill accounting at their last meeting on March 26, 2014:

  1. Same alternative as listed above for private companies.
  2. Amortize goodwill with impairment tests over its useful life, not to exceed a maximum number of years.
  3. The direct write-off of goodwill at the acquisition date.
  4. A nonamortization approach that uses a simplified impairment test.

Dwayne Murphy (dmurphy@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior Accountant with Langdon & Company LLP.  He specializes in audit, serving a wide variety of nonprofit organizations.

Adult Care Provider News

dhhsNorth Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 744, section 12H.11 mandating the submission of Adult Care Cost Report under General Statute 131D-4.2.  The deadline is December 31, 2014.  Providers that do not receive State/County Special Assistance or Medicaid personal care are exempt from the reporting requirements of this section.  However, these providers must file the Exemption Form, also due December 31.  According to the Controller’s website the information for the 2013-2014 Cost Report, Instructions, and 2013-2014 Chart of Accounts are all “Coming Soon.”

Langdon & Company LLP will continue to stay current on the latest developments as well.  Please call our office if we can provide any assistance in the submission process!

 

Nonprofit Organizations – Sales and Use tax refund Q&A

by Meagan Bullochsales tax

Q:  Do nonprofit organizations have to pay sales or use tax on items they purchase?

A:  Yes.  NC does not exempt nonprofit organizations from paying sales or use tax on items they purchase for use.

 

Q:  Are all nonprofit organizations eligible for refunds of the sales and use taxes paid?

A:  No.  The following entities may file for semiannual refunds of the sales and use taxes paid on purchases of tangible personal property for use in carrying on their nonprofit work:

  1. Hospitals not operated for profit
  2. Educational institutions not operated for profit
  3. Churches, Orphanages, and Other charitable or religious institutions and organizations not operated for profit

 

Q:  What information does the Department of Revenue need to determine whether an organization qualifies for sales and use tax refunds?

A:  A nonprofit organization must furnish the Department of Revenue with a copy of the documents used to create the organization (Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Amendment and Bylaws).

 

Q:  An organization has a Section 501(c)(3) Federal exempt status.  Does the organization automatically qualify to receive sales and use tax refunds?

A:  No.  The Department must review the documents used to create the nonprofit organization to determine whether it qualifies for refunds of sales and use taxes paid.

 

Q:  How does an organization file a claim for refund?

A:  The organization should complete Form E-585, Nonprofit and Governmental Entity Claim for Refund State and County Sales and Use Taxes.

 

Q:  How often do I file the Form E-585?

A: Claims for refund are filed semiannually.  The claim for refund of sales and use taxes paid during the period January 1 through June 30 is due to be filed by October 15th of the same year.  The claim for refund for the period July 1 through December 31 is due to be filed by April 15th of the following year.

 

Q:  What is the organization’s claim for refund is filed late?

A:  Claims can be filed up to three years after the due date.  Any filed later than three years will be denied.

 

Q:  Should the receipts or invoices be mailed with the organization’s claim for refund?

A:  No.  Receipts and invoices should be kept by the organization for a period of three years beyond the date the refund claim id due to be filed or three years beyond the date the claim is filed, whichever is later.

 This article is an excerpt from a bulletin from the Department of Revenue for North Carolina called “State Taxation and Nonprofit Organizations”  For more information, please visit, hereor call our office for additional details.

Meagan Bulloch (mbulloch@langdoncpa.com) is an audit manager at Langdon & Company LLP.  She is focused primarily on non-profit clients.

Small Actions with Big Impacts: Internal Controls for Nonprofits

by Rebecca Lunn

Given the small size or small budget of many nonprofits, some organizations may find it tempting to skimp on the internal controls of the entity. However, there are many controls that are inexpensive or easy to implement that can create a big impact in your organization.balance pai

For example, although your organization may lack employees, you can involve individuals outside the accounting function, such as the receptionist, in tasks such as opening the mail or logging invoices, to increase segregation of duties. Limiting the number of people with access to checks, limiting check signers, and simply marking invoices “paid” can also strengthen controls around cash disbursements. Developing written policies, such as a code of conduct or capitalization policy, can provide a guideline for employees to follow, creating consistency across the organization. Also, even though it may seem like an unnecessary expense, often using a payroll service to process regular payroll and prepare tax filings is often the most efficient and cost-effective manner for ensuring all laws and regulations are met. Lastly, if your nonprofit has a board of directors, it is important to report the financial position to the board on a periodic basis. This will allow the board to take any necessary actions when things are not operating as planned. Also, keeping detailed board minutes will ensure that formal approval is documented for important decisions affecting the organization. These steps are just a few of the numerous ways implementing simple controls can strengthen your organization.

If your nonprofit needs assistance in developing stronger internal controls, or improving upon existing controls, please contact our firm for more information on how we can help.

Rebecca Lunn (rlunn@langdoncpa.com) is an Senior Accountant at Langdon & Company LLP.  She specializes in financial and compliance auditing for governments and nonprofit organizations.

Identifying Identity Theft

by Susan Dean

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). At the end of fiscal 2013, the IRS had almost 600,000 identity theft cases in its inventory. With more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases, the IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft issues as soon as possible.identity_theft

There are several ways taxpayers can experience identity theft involving their tax returns. One of the most frequent encounters occur when identity thieves trying to file fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, such as their name and social security number. By filing early in the tax-filing season, thieves have a lower chance of being detected and a higher chance of receiving fraudulent refunds. More often than not, taxpayers are unaware identity theft has even occurred until they try to file their own personal income tax return. A rejection from an attempt to electronically file or a notice from the IRS stating that “more than one tax return was filed” may be a good indicator that the taxpayer has been a victim of identity theft.

A delay in receiving an expected tax refund is also an indicator of possible identity theft. Tax return identity theft delays legitimate taxpayer refunds because the return appears to be a duplicate return and therefore may be a sign of other fraud or identity problems. If a duplicate return has been filed, the taxpayer may receive notice from the IRS. A notice received from the IRS may indicate a duplicate filing, assess the taxpayer for additional tax due or indicate that an expected refund was used to offset a prior tax liability. If a taxpayer receives a notice from the IRS and suspects the possibility of identity theft they should contact the IRS Identity Protections Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. It is also recommended that you contact a tax professional for assistance in resolving the matter as soon as possible.

Langdon & Company LLP has helped several clients in the Triangle with identity theft matters relating to filing their tax returns and receiving their income tax refunds. For questions about identity theft or assistance with resolving an identity theft issue, please contact our office.

Susan is a tax manager at Langdon & Company LLP.  As an Enrolled Agent, she focuses primarily on the non-profit industry, trust income tax reporting and multi-state filings.