Category Archives: Raleigh CPA Firm

2017 Tax Season Update/Reminders

by Tony Pandiscia

Updates to Important 2016 Income Tax Return Filing Deadlines:

  • Individuals                  Tuesday, April 18, 2017
  • C Corporations           Tuesday, April 18, 2017
  • Trust/Estates              Tuesday, April 18, 2017
  • Partnerships       Wednesday, March 15, 2017
  • S-Corporations   Wednesday, March 15, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF FEDERAL TAX CHANGES

  • The Standard Deduction amount for Married Filing Joint couples has increased by $100 for 2017 to $12,700; all other filing status standard deductions have increased by $50.
  • The maximum annual “profit sharing” contribution limit for certain retirement plans has increased to $54,000 for 2017.
  • The annual compensation limit for certain retirement plans has increased to $270,000 for 2017.
  • The Social Security maximum earnings base for application of FICA tax has increased to $127,200 for 2017.
  • The thresholds for each of the Individual Income Tax Brackets for 2017 have been increased slightly due to annual Cost of Living Adjustments.
  • The gross income levels for which a 2017 income tax return is required have been increased to $ $20,800 (Married Filing Joint filers) and $10,400 (Single filers).
  • Effective January 1, 2017, Business-related travel expense “standard mileage rate” has been revised to 53.5 cent per mile for business miles driven. The “standard mileage rates” for medical or moving expense purposes is now 17 cents per mile, but the rate for charitable activities remains unchanged at 14 cents per mile.
  • Tax Exempt Organizations can now receive an automatic six-month extension of time to file using Form 8868 prior to the initial due date for their 2016 tax returns.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NORTH CAROLINA TAX CHANGES

  • The standard deduction has been increased by $1,000 for married individuals who file jointly (or as “head of household”) and $500 for all other individuals.
  • Effective January 1, 2017, many service businesses will now be subject to Sales & Use Tax collection and reporting when providing “repair, maintenance, or installation” services that are not “Capital Improvements.” In addition, a new exemption form has been issued for service businesses to qualify for a “Capital Improvement” exemption.

HELPFUL REMINDERS

  • Charitable Contribution:
    • Tax deductible contributions can be made in the form of cash or noncash but not “service” to a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. Out-of-pocket costs and travel expenses incurred may be subject to deduction.
  • Any single donation larger than $250 to a “qualified organization” requires acknowledgement (or receipt). For noncash donations, fair market value assessment is the responsibility of the donor and if over $5,000, a certified appraisal is required.
  • Reporting of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR):
    • If you have a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account with overall value exceeding $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, you are required to file an FBAR. (As a protective measure, many of our clients file this report regardless of the threshold in order to run the statute of limitations for audit.)
    • The annual due date for filing has been revised to April 18, 2017. All taxpayers will be granted an automatic six-month extension to October 15.

This is a summary of 2017 tax changes.  If you have any questions regarding the details of the changes and how they may affect your specific situation, please feel free to contact us to discuss.

Tony (tpandiscia@langdoncpa.com) is the Tax Partner with Langdon & Company LLP.  He is a CPA and also an attorney, advocating for clients on many levels-including with the State and the IRS.

Nonprofits: Choosing or Changing the Fiscal Year-End

by Lee Byrd

What is a fiscal year? A fiscal year is the period used for calculating annual (“yearly”) financial statements in businesses and other organizations. Many nonprofits have a fiscal year-end of June 30th. However, this is not a requirement and the organization’s fiscal year can end whenever the nonprofit should chose, as long as the end date is specified in the organizational documents.

So how should a nonprofit chose the best fiscal year-end for the organization? Some things to consider include:

  • Program year – the organization’s fiscal year should coincide with its program year so that one year’s program activities should not fall into two fiscal years. For example, if the majority of the nonprofit’s programs fall during the summer months, June 30th is most likely not the best option for that nonprofit’s fiscal year-end.
  • Grant cycles – Some organizations may find it helpful to align their fiscal year-end with the terms of the organization’s major grants and/or funders. This enables the organization to develop a clean cut-off for grant reporting and simplifies the grants process.
  • Audit evidence – Nonprofits who require an audit generally need time subsequent to year-end to close out the books and gather audit evidence in preparation for the audit. Having a year-end that falls during the organization’s busiest time of year may impact the availability and timeliness of sufficient audit evidence.
  • Debt covenants – For organizations with significant debt covenants, the cyclical nature of the organization’s operations and the impact on the calculation of those covenants should be considered when choosing a year-end.

Once the above factors have been considered and a year-end has been chosen, many nonprofits question the audit and reporting impact of a fiscal year-end change. A year-end change will affect how the nonprofit presents its audited financial statements in the year of change and in the subsequent fiscal year. An organization can chose to extend the period under audit in the year of change or undergo an audit for the short period, plus the original fiscal year. For this reason, it is often common for single year financial statements to be presented rather than comparative statements in the year of change. The need for a comparative financial statement presentation and the costs of an extended or additional audit period should be considered in the year of change.

Lastly, in order to change the organization’s year-end with the IRS, Form 1128 “Application to Adopt, Change, or Retain a Tax Year” will need to be filed along with Form 990 for the short period to bridge the gap between the original year-end and the new year-end. A copy of the nonprofit’s tax exempt ruling letter from the IRS will need to be submitted with along with Form 1128. If an extension is needed for the short-period Form 990, the extension must be filed prior to the initial due date of the new fiscal year. Additionally, the nonprofit will want to review and amend any organizational documents (such as bylaws) that refer to the fiscal year-end.

If you are considering a change to your nonprofit’s year-end, contact Landon & Company LLP for further guidance on your specific situation.

Lee (lbyrd@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Manager with Langdon & Company LLP.  She works with many healthcare nonprofit organizations.

Two NC Budgets Passed!

by Rachel Owens

It’s the beginning of summer in NC.  That means that the two chambers of our General Assembly are hard at work trying to agree on a state-wide budget.

The House of Representatives passed the Health and Human ServicesNC health news budget a few weeks ago.  The Senate just passed theirs.  As always there are similarities and differences in each department; each of which, have very “hot topics” that are addressed.  Thanks to NC Health News for a comparison chart to show the differences between the two.

If you have additional questions about the budget decisions and how they affect your organization, contact our office.  We’ll be happy to give you some insight on what these choices mean for you.

Rachel (rowens@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior in the Cost Report department at Langdon & Company LLP.  She works with various healthcare companies, several of which, from the audit all the way through their state reporting compliance.

The Big Impact of Big Data

by Rebecca LunnSmall Business Accounting

In recent years, there has been a buzz around the term “big data.” As SAS describes, “big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis.” With the influx of technology and increasingly complex ways to collect and analyze data, understanding big data is becoming essential to business.

We see examples of big data every day, such as personalized coupons at the checkout counter or ad placement on social media. However, it is much easier to visualize how a financial or retail business can use big data, as compared to a nonprofit. Nonprofits may not have the same volume of data as corporations, but these organizations can still take advantage of the big impact of big data.

Marketing: With the introduction of new technology, the marketing strategy of organizations has transformed. By collecting data about website visits, email subscribers and social media likes, nonprofits can analyze their audience. Using this data, the organization can tailor posts to include topics which interest their audience, leading to increased sharing of information and awareness of the organization’s mission.

Development: In addition to marketing uses, social media can also be used to encourage donations. With the increased sharing of information mentioned above, comes the possibility of increased support. Similar to email subscribers, organizations should maintain a database of donor demographics. This information can be used to make an appeal for funds on a more personal level. In addition, the organization can send individual donors information about events or fundraisers that might specifically interest them, rather than a mass mailing with higher costs.

Programs: The primary focus of most nonprofits is their programs, which have a direct impact on the community. On a periodic basis, organizations should collect data related to program growth and clients served. This can assist the organization in allocating sometimes scarce resources, such as funds and employees, for maximum impact.

Langdon & Company LLP has in place a team of professionals that specialize in working with nonprofit organizations.  Please contact our office for additional information on how we can assist you.

Rebecca (rlunn@langdoncpa.com) is an audit senior in our firm.  She works closely with the audit staff in the areas of healthcare and nonprofits.

Changes in NC Behavioral Healthcare

by Rachel Owens

Consolidation of the state-funded management organizations has been officially declared!

Currently, there are eight LME/MCOs across North Carolina.  The consolidation will reduce the number of LME/MCOs down to four, by combining the catchment areas into contiguous regions.  The LME/MCO’s that are merging are: Smoky Mountain + Partners, Cardinal + CenterPoint, Trillium + Eastpointe, and Alliance + Sandhills. LME_MCO_ConsolidationMap

No timeline has been established for the transition, but the hope is that it will not take more than two years to implement.  The first merger will be between CenterPoint and Cardinal Innovations – somewhere between May 1 and June 30. This change affects each county from “Murphy to Manteo.”  Read more about the consolidation in Rose Hoban’s recent article in NC Health News .

Langdon & Company LLP is committed to assisting the mental health provider population in any way we can.  Please contact our office if you have questions on how these changes will affect your organization.

 

Have you received all of the tax forms you expected?

by Cody Taylor

As we’re into February you should have received most if not all of the tax documents related to preparing your 2015 tax returns.  This article in Forbes explains when various tax forms are due to you.  What if you are missing some forms you were expecting?

It’s important to note that some forms may not be received in time to prepare your tax returns on time and you may require an extension as a result.  The most common scenario is if you receive a Schedule K-1 from a pass-through entity.  These entities have to file their tax returns before issuing you a Schedule K-1 which may not happen right away.  As the article also says- your best course of action is to contact the K-1 issuer and find out when they expect the tax returns to be completed so you can plan your own tax filings accordingly.tax forms

If you haven’t received expected W-2s, 1099s or other forms that should have been received by now you have a few options available.  The first and most obvious is to look back through any mail you have sitting around and to check your emails to see if you missed anything.  We’ve all missed something the first time through only to have to document be sitting right there the whole time.  However if the forms really are missing here are a few steps you can take as outlined here and summarized below.

  1. Contact the issuer – They may have simply mailed it to the wrong address, maybe you moved or your form got lost in the mail. Most issuers will be happy to send you a new copy, but keep in mind if they tell you it was sent and you did not receive it make sure to check that they have the correct address on file for you.
  2. Employer or Issuer has moved or closed – Still try to contact them. The income they paid you still should be reported on your tax returns and if they issued W-2s or 1099s in your Social Security number that are not reported on your tax returns the IRS will almost assuredly contact you about it.
  3. Still no forms by February 14th – If you are unable to resolve the missing information through the previous steps you can contact the IRS starting February 15th regarding missing forms. Try to have your address, phone number, Social Security Number, dates of employment, earnings estimate and federal withholdings amount on hand when you call the IRS.  Your most recent pay stub is a good place to get this information.  The IRS phone number is 1-800-829-1040 and I recommend trying to call first thing in the morning when the wait times are often shorter.
  4. Patience – The IRS will then contact the issuer to send you replacement forms but this is done through the mail and is usually not a fast process.

The good news is most of the time the issue of missing forms can be resolved rather painlessly, but if you find yourself missing important tax documents as it gets closer to filing time follow the above steps and contact the IRS, if necessary.

Cody (ctaylor@langdoncpa.com) is a member of our tax staff at Langdon & Company LLP.  He works with various types of clients on tax matters year-round.  Please contact us to get more information on how we can help make your 2015 tax season, a smooth one.

 

NC Senate Bill 424 “Fostering Success,” an analysis of the current proposal and how it will affect the Foster Care Benefits Program in North Carolina

by Josh Bryant

Under current State law, foster children stop receiving benefits on their 18th birthday, unless they are a full-time student, up until the age of 21. However, North Carolina legislators have been working to extend the age limit for foster care benefits from 18 to 21 under a wider swath of requirements that will undoubtedly benefit thousands who are currently cared for in the Foster Care Program.

In order to receive foster care benefits until the age of 21, under the current law a child must be a full-time student. With the passage of NC Senate Bill 424, effective August 1, 2016, under Section 1 a foster child may fulfill one of following five requirements and remain eligible to receive benefits until 21:

  • completing high school or a GED,family
  • being enrolled in a college or a vocational program,
  • participating in an employment program,
  • being employed for at least 80 hours per month,
  • or, incapable of completing one of these requirements due to a medical condition or disability.

Additionally, “Fostering Success” also expands the ability of foster parents and children to succeed in life by allowing more “wiggle room” for decisions to be made on part of the child. For example, under the proposed law, a foster child who is a full-time student over age 18 may now be approved to live outside a foster care facility in a college dormitory or a partially-supervised residential agreement. Furthermore, the Bill will make it easier for foster children who are eligible for guardianship but are unlikely to find a permanent residence in the formation of the Guardianship Assistance Program or GAP.

In summary, “Fostering Success” lends a hand to individuals who are otherwise deemed an adult the necessary assistance they need to supplement their life without having to endure additional hardship in order to receive such help.

Funding for the bill has been set aside for implementation in the coming year and will be fully implemented August 1, 2016.

Josh (jbryant@langdoncpa.com) is a staff Auditor with Langdon & Company, LLP.  He works on a variety of clients in the non-profit sector.  Please contact our office if we can help your organization better understand the latest legislation and how it affects your constituents.

Thanking Donors – What’s required by the IRS?

by Meagan Bulloch

As year-end fundraising drives have now ended, the development departments of many non-profits are busy preparing contribution acknowledgements or “thank you” letters.  So, how can these non-profits ensure they give the donors what they expect and what the IRS requires?

If a monetary contribution was made for which the organization did not provide any good or service in return, the donor is required to have a bank record or written acknowledgement of the gift before they can claim a charitable contribution deduction on their federal tax return.  It is acceptable if the acknowledgement is provided electronically to the donor but many organizations still find value in mailing personalized thank you letters.

If the donation received is greater than $250, a basic thank you note not will not suffice as adequate support for the IRS.  To aid your donors the organization should provide the following information in the acknowledgement/thank you letter:

  • Name of your organization
  • Statement that the non-profit is a recognized tax-exempt entity under IRS under Section 501(c)(3)
  • Amount of cash contribution or description of non-cash donation (but NOT the value)
  • Date the donation was received
  • A statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization in return for the contribution

Separate acknowledgements can be provided for each contribution exceeding $250, or an annual acknowledgement can be provided if more practical. Best practice is that acknowledgement(s) should be provided to donors no later than January 31 of the year following the donation.

If your organization received a quid pro quo contribution, when a donor makes a payment exceeding $75 that is comprised of both a contribution and a good or service provided by the organization, the organization is required to provide a written disclosure.

Example – The organization holds a dinner valued at $40 and charges a ticket price of $100, the donor’s tax deduction is limited to $60.  However, because the total amount paid was greater than $75, the organization must provide a disclosure statement to the donor even though the value of the contribution is less than $75.  The disclosure statement provided to donors should include:

  • A statement informing the donor of the amount of the contribution that is tax deductible – limited to the excess of the contribution less than fair market value of the goods or services received
  • A good faith estimate of the fair market value of the goods and services

A penalty is imposed on charities that do not meet the written disclosure requirement. The penalty is $10 per contribution, not to exceed $5,000 per fundraising event or mailing. An organization may avoid the penalty if it can show that failure to meet the requirements was due to reasonable cause.

But what if…

Gifts in-kind with a market value in excess of $5,000 may require an appraisal (that the donor can be required to pay for)

The above guidelines are detailed in the IRS Publication 1771, these rules do not apply to a donated motor vehicle, boat or airplane if the claimed value exceeds $500.  (See IRS Publication 4302, A Charity’s Guide to Vehicle Donations and IRS Publication 4303, A Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donations).

Meagan (mbulloch@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Manager at Langdon & Company LLP.  She works primarily with non-profits in various industries.

Update on Increase of Deduction for Purchase of Tangible Property

by Eric Murphy

For several years, the IRS has deemed that tangible assets used in business such as equipment and computers with a purchase price of more than $500 must be capitalized and depreciated based on the Assets’ useful life.  Any money spent below $500 on an asset that would have traditionally be capitalized, could be expensed in the year of purchase instead.  The IRS made this rule under the Tangible Property Regulations, specifically Reg. 1.263(a)-1(f)(1)(ii)(D).  This deduction was allowed for businesses that didn’t have annual financial statements subjected to annual audits.

Under IRS Notice 2015-82,  the lower tier safe harbor amount was increased from $500 to $2,500 of costs per tangible item and can now be expensed instead of being capitalized for small businesses that don’t have audited annual financial statements.  This ruling will take effect for the tax year beginning January 1, 2016 all future years unless a modification is made at a future date.  The IRS will also not challenge amounts between $500 and $2500 that were expensed in prior years between December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2015 that should have been capitalized.book stack

If you’re a business owner who wants to make sure their purchases are properly recorded and reported in their financial statements and tax returns, contact Langdon & Company LLP.  Our team of highly skilled tax and bookkeeping professionals will assist you in making sure your company’s financial activity is reported properly and in conformity with all legally mandated requirements.  We will also analyze your statements and make suggestions on ways you can become more profitable and efficient to the best of our ability.

Eric (emurphy@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior in the Langdon & Company LLP tax practice. He works with a variety of clients in preparation of tax returns and other projects.

 

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.