Tag Archives: raleigh tax services

Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties

by Tony Pandiscia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ([email protected]), 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 ([email protected]) 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 ([email protected]) 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.

Overview of Possible FASB Changes in Non-Profit Reporting Rules

Non ProfitThe Financial Accounting Standards Board recently evaluated the way in which non-profit organizations record and report their financial information and is seeking to make changes that would enable charities to provide more accurate financial information to the general public.

To start with, FASB board members have created a draft document that can be used as a formal operating measure to evaluate any organization that is set up to serve the public good.

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Understanding Estate Tax and Gift Tax

When it comes to paying taxes, the government has several areas in which they take a portion of your assets. You pay taxes on what you earn and then you also have to pay taxes when you give money away.

Taxes can be taken out of gifts regardless of whether you give them when you’re alive or after you pass away as part of your estate. Langdon & Company LLP, a Raleigh CPA firm, will review clients documents to determine whether their stated planning objectives have been met. Below are the basics on how the estate tax and the gift tax work together.

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IRS Start Processing 2012 Tax Returns January 30

Langdon & Company LLP, provides tax services in the Raleigh area.  We provide consultation and tax services to business owners by helping to interpret tax law, raise tax related issues and provide solutions to tax problems.

Just recently The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that it will open the 2012 tax season beginning January 30, 2013. This announcement comes following the changes made by Congress on January 2, 2013 to the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

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Tax Services and Consulting

Langdon & Company LLP,  provides tax services in the Raleigh area.  We provide consultation and tax services to business owners by helping to interpret tax law, raise tax related issues and provide solutions to tax problems. Our professionals are experienced and knowledgeable in Federal, Multi-State and International tax laws. Langdon & Company LLP keeps clients up to date with insight on breaking legislation as well as providing innovative strategies.

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