Category Archives: Raleigh CPA Firm

NC Adult Care Home Update

by Rachel Owens

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

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

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

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

When Should I Start Receiving My Social Security Benefits?

by Leonora Bowman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planning for College? Benefits of a 529 Plan

by Kendall Tyson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Will the IRS and the States Handle Virtual Currency?

by Cody Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cody (ctaylor@langdoncpa.com) is part of our tax staff at Langdon & Company LLP.  He focuses on high-net wealth individuals, and other various types of tax projects.

Opportunities for Tax Savings Using a Section 1031 Exchange

by Morgan Norris

What is a Section 1031 exchange? exchange-money

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

Who qualifies?

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

What are the requirements?

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

Ways in which taxable gain may result

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

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

The fine print

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

Morgan (mnorris@langdoncpa.com) is a tax senior at Langdon & Company LLP.  She has experience with individual and corporate tax preparation.  Please contact our office if we can provide additional information.

Are YOU a Victim of Tax Identity Theft?

by Susan Dean

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

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

ID theftWhat is tax-related identity theft?

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

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

Know the warning signs

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

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

Steps to take if you become a victim

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

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

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

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

How to reduce your risk

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

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

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

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

Financial Considerations Before Tying the Knot

by Dwayne Murphymarriage

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

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

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

Dwayne (dmurphy@langdoncpa.com) is an Audit Senior with Langdon & Company LLP.  He mainly works with various types of non-profit associations.

Spring Cleaning: Document Retention Policies for Non-Profits

by Brittany Powell spring-cleaning-office

Determining what documents and files you need to keep can be a daunting task and all too often turns into a case of “I’ll keep this…just in case.”  Establishing a formal document retention and destruction policy for your non-profit organization can help prevent clutter from piles of unneeded documents.  In fact, a document retention policy is one of several policies that the IRS Form 990 asks specifically if a nonprofit organization has.

The IRS Form 990 instructions define a document retention and destruction policy as a policy that “identifies the record retention responsibilities of staff, volunteers, board members, and outsiders for maintaining and documenting the storage and destruction of the organization’s documents and records.”  As the National Council of Nonprofits points out in its article, “Document Retention Policies for Nonprofits,” a written document retention policy provides consistency in the document retention/destruction habits of both staff and volunteers.

So, as your organization is spring cleaning, what documents should you keep and what can be tossed?  The following categories are derived from the AICPA’s sample document retention policy and provide a guideline for how long certain documents should be kept.

Documents that should be kept permanently:

–          Audit reports

–          Correspondence regarding legal and important matters

–          Deeds, mortgages, and bills of sale

–          Determination letter from the IRS

–          Tax returns

–          Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, etc.

–          Minutes of board meetings and resolutions made by the board

–          Retirement and pension records

–          Trademark registrations and copyrights

Documents that should be kept for 7 years:

–          Expired contracts, mortgages, notes, and leases

–          Payroll records and summaries

–          Personnel files for terminated employees

–          Timesheets

–          Withholding tax statements

–          Invoices (to customers and from vendors)

Documents that should be kept for 2-3 years:

–          Bank reconciliations and statements

–          General correspondence

–          Duplicate deposit slips

–          Employment applications

–          Inventory records

–          Correspondence with customers and vendors

These guidelines can help your organization begin establishing its own document retention policy and guidelines.  However, as we become a more technologically-driven society, it is important to be consider documents stored in the cloud or on a server and to have a back-up plan in place for your electronic documents.  Additionally, the National Council of Nonprofits points out in its article that organizations should give consideration to email records and how they fit into the procedures defined in the document retention policy.

If you have additional questions or would like additional information, please contact our office.

Brittany Powell (bpowell@langdoncpa.com) is an audit senior at Langdon & Company LLP and has experience with a broad range of non-profit clients.

The Interaction of Pell Grants and Tax Credits

by Rebecca Lunnpell grant

Federally funded Pell Grants assist millions of students annually. However, for students with these scholarships, the process of claiming tax credits is complex and often confusing. As a result, students with the greatest financial need may be foregoing additional tax benefits available.

Based on an IRS publication (see link below), under current law a Pell Grant student can choose to allocate his or her Pell Grant funds either to qualified tuition and related expenses (QTRE) or to living expenses (up to the amount of actual living expenses), which constitutes taxable income. Most students and parents do not understand this option, so often families allocate all QTRE to the Pell Grant funds, leaving little or no QTRE to allocate to an educational tax credit.

For 2014, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) provides a 100% credit for the first $2,000 of QTRE and a 25% credit for the next $2,000, for a total credit up to $2,500. As noted in the IRS publication, if a student’s QTRE exceeds scholarships by $4,000, the student would still qualify for the maximum AOTC credit. However, if the QTRE exceeds scholarships by less than $4,000, the student may benefit from including some of the Pell Grant in taxable income in order to claim a larger AOTC. It is important to note that any scholarship that is allocated to living expenses must be included in taxable income on the student’s (not the parent’s) tax return.

If you need additional assistance in understanding how to obtain the maximum tax benefit with a Pell Grant scholarship, the tax department at Langdon & Company LLP is pleased to assist.

Please click here for detailed examples of the interaction of Pell Grants and tax credits.

Rebecca Lunn (rlunn@langdoncpa.com) is a Senior in our Audit Department working primarily with the non profit, and health care industries.

college diploma

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act – A new way to save for children with disabilities

by Meagan Bulloch

The ABLE Act amends Section 529 of the IRS Code of 1986 to create tax-advantage savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.  The ABLE Act will provide individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other American have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts and individual retirement accounts.  Most importantly this Act will prevent money saved through 529-ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s eligibility for federal benefits programs.

As of December 19, 2014 this was signed into law by President Barack Obama. o-SAVINGS-ACCOUNT-facebook

What you should know (Adapted from NDSS):

  1. 529-ABLE accounts are “tax-advantage” savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families.  Income earned by these accounts will not be taxed.  Also the money will not be considered an asset when determining eligibility for government supported benefits.
  2. Who is eligible – Any individual with significant disabilities with an age of onset before 26 years of age is eligible.  Eligible individuals can be over the age of 26, but must have documentation of disability that indicates age of onset before the age of 26.  
  3. How much money can be saved – Under current tax law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $14,000 into an ABLE account and not be subject to gift taxes.  The total limit over time that can be made into an ABLE account will be subject to the individual state and their limit for education-related 529 savings accounts.  The first $100,000 in ABLE accounts will be exempt from the SSI $2,000 individual resource limit.  If the ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the beneficiary would be suspended from eligibility for SSI benefits, but would continue to be eligible for Medicaid.    
  4. What expenses qualify – A “qualified disability expense” is considered an expense incurred as a result of the beneficiary living with their disability.  These would include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services and other expenses which will be developed in 2015 by the Treasury Department.   
  5. Can I have more than one ABLE account – No, the Act limits the opportunity to one ABLE account per eligible individual. 
  6. How is an ABLE account different from other options – ABLE accounts allow more choice and control for the beneficiary and their families.  The cost of opening an account will be considerably less than setting up either a Special Needs Trust or Pooled Income Trust.  The ABLE account will also be less complicated to set up and owners will have the ability to control their funds.  This new approach also offers individuals living with a disability the ability to work and contribute to their own support and save for their own future with fear of losing necessary support and services.

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