Corporations and Pass-Through Entities:  Entity Selection: Fifth in a Series

Corporations and Pass-Through Entities: Entity Selection: Fifth in a Series

The current tax reform has made business entity selection for new and existing businesses quite complicated for C corporations, and other pass-through businesses (think K1’s and Schedule C)  There are tremendous factors based on your industry, size and structure of your organization.

C Corps which have been out of vogue in recent years to most businesses (and CPA entity choice) have gotten some new light,   the new tax law reduces the maximum tax rate from 35% to now 21% flat.    Remember that “distributions” in these entities are dividends, with a maximum tax of 23.8%, so hovering around 40% with the double tax.

Pass-Through Entities (S Corps and Partnerships) which now include Schedule C sole proprietors receive a new 20% deduction off qualified activity income, substantially reducing tax marginal levels near 31-32%.

Under prior law, most businesses benefited from the pass-through entity as it resulted in a lower tax rate.  However, under the new code, special analysis must be conducted as major deductions have been eliminated or capped under the new individual code for 2018 going forward

The deduction for “qualified business income” appears to be straight forward at 20% of the income earned, however there are phase-outs, and how this is calculated based on your income and industry.

We often quote that simplicity can be expensive.    It might be time to change your entity structure or break your business into new entities.

 

2018 Tax Cuts-   Personal Exemptions and Child Credits-   4th In a Series

2018 Tax Cuts- Personal Exemptions and Child Credits- 4th In a Series

One of the big changes under the new code and candidly not spoken about in the press as much as the change in the “standard deduction” is the elimination of all personal exemptions under the new code.    This has a potential substantial impact on larger, middle class families.    These are worth $4,050 in 2017 per exemption and might offset the doubling of the standard deduction.

The child credit will now be $2,000 per qualifying child and up to $1,400 will be refundable – there are substantially higher thresholds for eligibility- good news for the middle and upper class.   These amounts are now $400,000 ($200,000 single) up from $110,000 ($75,000) under 2017 law.      This impacts children under age 17

The Act also provides a $500 nonrefundable credit for qualifying dependents other than children, and  the dependent care credit, adoption credit and the ability to exclude up to $5,000 of gross income annually for employer-provided dependent care remains on the tax code books for 2018

We move to business matters in our next blog.   We will start with an overview on business tax rates and important changes

2018 Tax Cuts- Third in a Series: You Itemize and File Schedule A

The substantial increase in the standard deduction for 2018, as previously posted, means that a larger number of taxpayers will now take the standard deduction in lieu of itemizing.    Factoring in the limit on state and local property taxes and new reduced mortgage interest limits, lets see what else could cause an increase in standard deduction usage for 2018 and beyond.

Casualty and Theft Losses 

No longer deductible unless they are related to a loss in a federally declared disaster area.  (such as major storms such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods)

Medical Expenses

One of the few items that affects 2017 returns and for 2018 only,  the threshold is reduced to 7.5% of AGI – for taxpayers planning surgery and can bunch these expenses its time to consider this before this reverts to 10% of AGI effective 2019 tax year

State and Local Taxes

These taxes are now capped at $10,000.   Same regardless if you are single or married.  (substantial reduction to many taxpayers)

Miscellaneous Deductions

Completely eliminated under the code.   This includes all reimbursed business expenses (meals, mileage etc), tax prep, fees, investment management fees.   Sales people with substantial business miles need to factor this change immediately in their compensation packages

Employees and business owners heed:   The ability to deduct business meals and entertainment has now been eliminated starting this year as this was previously 50% deductible.

Child Tax Credits/Personal Exemptions will be our next blog topic.

2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act- Individual and Business Tax Forum Series- “You’re Buying (or Selling) a Home

For taxpayers with existing mortgages you can currently deduct mortgage interest of up to 1,000,000 (500,000 married separate) of incurred debt.    Under the new Code, mortgages taken out between December 15,2017 and December 31, 2025  are now only eligible for an interest deduction on their mortgage of up to $750,000 ($375,000 married separate).   Note:  If you have a binding contract signed before December 15, 2017 and close on the home no later than April 1, 2018 the old rules apply to you.

Prior to the new Code,  interest on Home Equity loans of up to $100,000 has been fully deductible.     The new rules have eliminated this deduction on all HELOC loans,  including existing loans already in place.

The impact on home sales is unclear at this point,  we anticipate that the potential decline in pricing in urban areas could be offset by the reduction of sellers who keep their homes to avoid the new rules

The tax free sale of primary homes is a great benefit in the current code, married couples can exclude up to $500,000 ($250,000 single) from their income taxes as long as the home is their residence for at least two of the last five years.    There was much debate about changing this to five of the last eight years but this was not passed.   This benefit remains in place.

Next blog will talk about the impact on itemized deductions overall on your form Schedule A

2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-   Individual and Business Tax Forum Series-  “You Own a Home”

2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act- Individual and Business Tax Forum Series- “You Own a Home”

The new tax law that President Donald Trump signed into law late December 2017 will have massive, sweeping impacts on both the individual and business taxpayer.     We are beginning to digest the new code.    The changes involve so many parts of the code that the tax affect for each taxpayer has the potential to be profoundly different based on children, types of income, local taxes and more.       We will highlight highly impact areas over a series of blog posts to help explain specifics to our clients and readers.

You Own a Home

If you live in a high-tax area you will be especially affected by a new $10,000 limit on local and state taxes you can deduct on your Schedule A.

For our clients in FL, unless you are in a very expensive area you potentially will not feel any pain in this area, but our Atlanta clients in high-taxed areas of Decatur, along with large homes in Fulton County plus 6% GA state income taxes will feel the pinch.

This blog is about currently owning a home, so your current primary mortgage interest deductions won’t be affected, but if you are considering a move, that will be changes that you need to consider (another blog).    Note that fewer people will itemize, though since the new standard deduction has been increased substantially.

Taxpayers that are single (and married separately) will see this rise from $6,350 to $12,000,  head of household jumps from 9,350 to 18,000, and married filing jointly folks go from $12,700 to now $24,000.

Homeowners, starting with tax year 2018, will also lose their ability to deduct the interest on home-equity loans .

Our next blog will talk about the changes in buying and selling a home and the impact on new mortgages and holding periods on sales of your primary residence

The New Role of Today’s CFO: We’re way past numbers now!

The New Role of Today’s CFO: We’re way past numbers now!

By Richard T. Balog, CPA\CFF, CIA, CGFM, DACFE, and Rob Tamburri, CPA\PFS

April 22, 2017

The CFO is the financial “partner in strategy,” along with the CEO, COO, CIO and other Senior Managers. Today’s CFO needs the ability to not only manage the financial accounting and reporting aspects of the organization, but to also focus on the multiple and often conflicting roles. Today’s CFO needs skills far different from those of a typical CPA or Corporate Controller. Today’s CFO needs to be both a strategic and tactical thinker. Their basic communication skills need to be far beyond the financial aspects of the company. Today’s CFOs have the responsibility of sharpening and further-developing their “people skills” as well as their management skills to effectively work with your CEO, line executives, shareholders, Boards of Directors, regulatory agencies, employees and the financial community; what some folks define as their “Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Some psychologists suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic. Peter Salovey is the 23rd president of Yale University, and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology. John D. Mayer is a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire. These gentlemen coined the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1990 describing it as a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.

Salovey and Mayer also initiated a research program intended to develop valid measures of emotional intelligence and to explore its significance. There is little doubt that our emotions have a direct impact on our behaviors. As such our emptions can influence people positively and negatively. The ability to manage our emotions and the emptions of others especially has become a key attribute of today’s CFO. This is especially true in times of high workplace pressure, like year-end close!

For some people, the ability to manage emotions may come naturally, but for others, not so much. However, since the CFO needs to effect change through others, it has become a critical skill set in today’s “politically correct” culture. It is something of which every CFO needs to be aware and develop.

Many “Big Box” seminar companies offer programs that promise to teach you how to “manage your emotion in the workplace”, but as the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water….The Virtual CFO Practice at Balog + Tamburri is built on our professionals’ ability to separate their emotions from the client’s own situation. The following are some of the key attribute to our successful approach:

  1. Understand the Business: The effective CFO understands that the company does not revolve around finance! The key to any effective business is the proper combination of optimum use of corporate resources allocation and competing resources. CFOs need to fully understand the business in order to properly allocate corporate resources to effectively manage the competing demand for those finite resources. While the CFO typically moves through the “numbers side” of the business, to be effective the CFO needs to “think outside of the box”; the traditional comfort zone of financials; and actually TALK to people! They need to see the company from the eyes of Marketing, HR, IT Production and other disciplines that “don’t speak debit!” They need to actually talk with their peer group, face to face, and learn how others see the “optimum use of resources.”  They need to realize that not everyone manages in terms of financial results.  Plant managers don’t speak “debit,” they speak pounds, and gallons. They need to realize that Variance Reports don’t have to be in dollars and cents.
  1. Think Like a Salesman: This may sound like blasphemy, but it is critical! Today’s effective CFOs must be strong and effective verbal and written communicators. They must be able to give a plant tour as effectively as the Plant Manager. Internal reports need to be understandable by everyone! Be honest and accurate with the facts but also provide insight into the numbers that you have learned to make them understandable. Know the company’s marketing pitch. Be able to talk to customers as well as the external auditors. Be a true leader.
  1. Understand what drives the business: Businesses do not live in a vacuum. Talk to folks to understand the activities and events that cause the numbers to change. During a recent profitability enhancement engagement, a line factory worker asked if someone “could lose their job as a result of the changes?” when I responded “It could happen,” the worker responded by saying “Oh yea?? Well Joe smoked dope on th roof during second shift; and Paula…”  He went on to identify some twenty key issues no one knew about because nobody bothered to ask him. . Today’s effective CFO knows every aspect of the business and what drives each. Look at outside drivers as well. What is happening in the world, local events and the such all impact the business. When was the last time your accountant’s asked a line manager what information he or she needed to get their bonus? It is the non-finance questions that are not being asked: Not “What are we going to spend?” but ask “Why are we going to spend it?” “How will the investment make us more competitive?” When CFOs interact company-wide at a strategic level, they will be able to provide the necessary information that actually adds recurring value, and strengthens the relationship between the company and its decision-makers.
  1. Change the language of your internal reporting: As stated previously, not everyone speaks debit. Get over yourself. You may be comfortable with debits, most others are not. Ask your users what are the decisions they have to make that are difficult or scary. Typically the root cause of poor decision-making is the absence of competent information. Allow the users to develop the internal reporting format and language. Get the right input and the output will be truly value-added.
  1. Listen to others: The secret to any successful leader is the strength of the team of key advisers, and the leader’s willingness to LISTEN to them. Get input from non-financial professionals. Use the diversity of other perspectives to the company’s benefit. Maximize the mutual benefit of the CFO Advisory Team. Don’t just talk numbers. Capitalize on each other’s knowledge, experience and expertise. A good tem has worker bees as well as key executives. Each has a very unique perspective. And above all, get over yourself.  I refer to myself as a “lowly CPA.”  Every effective business is a result of a great team that successfully completed a very complex jigsaw puzzle. No effective CFO ever solved the puzzle alone.

We have been very successful in effecting meaningful change in our clients’ profitability through the use of these skills. Our robust practice has grown and our clients are able to spend more time enjoying the fruits of their business. We believe that our approach to service as our clients’ Virtual CFO has made the difference in their businesses success. Our Firm offers a to-day program entitled The CFO Workshop: Vision, Skills and Focus for the New CFO, that provides training for today’s newly appointed CFO or those veterans who would like to see their role in a new and different light.

 

For more information contact Rick Balog, Managing Partner, at rick@flgacp.com, or call me directly at 904-945-1220.

Avoid the Tax Scammers

Avoid the Tax Scammers

The Five Top Tax Scams

Late filers can be particularly suseptable to the Bad Boy Tax Scammers out there.  It’s late and your on your 12th coffee.  The scammers prey on late filers and the folks using “Free” tax software.  They are after your refund!  The IRS an approximate 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents, and our clients report these to us as well in ever increasing numbers.

Here are the Tips we give our clients to fight the 5 top scams:

Number 1: The Phishing Expedition – BOLO for emails that look like they are from the IRS.  Here’s the secret – The IRS will never email you to collect taxes or to give you a refund!  NEVER!  Never click on any email claiming to fro the IRS.  Most of them are trying to get your SSN and bank info. Call your CPA!

Number 2: – The Threating Phone Call – AGAIN – the IRS will NEVER call you. NEVER!  Any phone call from someone claiming to ne from the IRS is a SCAM. These criminals often threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. The IRS may not be your friend, but they never threaten over the phone.  You also need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time Get their name if possible and a phone number. Phish them for info, then report them to the IRS – you may be eligible for a reward!! Use IRS Form 211!

Number 3 – The Bogus Charity – It is so sad, but these low-lifes actually pretend they represent a charitable organization that does not exist.  BOLO of charities with names just one word away from a well-known charity. To be safe, never donate over the phone.  Get a website and check them out first.  Never use your credit card.  Use snail mail and write a check. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations. The link is http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/charities/news/2012/news20120402.html

Number Four – the Fake Tax Preparer:  This one is particularly bad. BOLO for tax return preparers who will give you a “DEAL.”  Let you in on a secret – Tax Software is VERY EXPENSIVE. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.  Be aware of the “cheap” return!  You may lose your house.

Number Five: The Tax Resolution Scam – There are many great and reputable organizations that can lead you out of the Valley of Darkness when you owe a ton to the IRS. Others, not so great.  Be aware of fantastic claims “I owed $300,000 and only paid $200!!  Never Happens!  Get references, check them out first – here is a great link

http://www.wikihow.com/Hire-a-Tax-Resolution-Company-You-Can-Trust

Preventative Measures You Can Take – To avoid the scammers this  tax season, you need to know what is and isn’t normal. We tend to get nervous when The Man shows up!  We want to do anything they say to make the problem go away. (Remember the feeling with the blue lights are in the mirror???)

The IRS will never:

  1. Call and demand you make an immediate payment to avoid arrest.
  2. Demand you use a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  3. State that the Feds are on the way to arrest you – the say “But we can make a deal!”.
  4. Demand that you pay taxes now without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  5. Ask for banking information or credit card numbers over the phone.

It is CRITICAL that you only share financial information with a licensed and registered CPA or Financial Planner. You can verify a CPA license with your state department of Licensing and Regulation. Check them out first!  Many tax preparers are not licensed.  The Big Box tax services have “tax professionals” who were hair dressers yesterday, and will be again on April 19th!  CPA’s are personally liable if they cross the line! They are licensed registered and must go through at least 40 hours of training each year.

Pay very close attention to email addresses, and never share financial information through email.

You have the right to be informed, and also the right to appeal any IRS decisions in an independent forum. Have other questions about your rights as a taxpayer? Call us at 904-945-1220 or visit www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights.

 

How to Get Rich by Reporting Tax Cheats!

How to Get Rich by Reporting Tax Cheats!

Do you ever feel robbed when you see someone cheating on their taxes? Now you can get rich by simply filing an IRS Whistleblower Form 211! And do it On-Line!

The IRS Whistleblower Office pays money to people who blow the whistle on people or businesses who fail to pay the tax that they owe. If you provide sufficient information the IRS can use to catch the crook, you can receive up to 30 percent of the additional tax, penalty and other amounts it collects.

The IRS Whistleblower Office

The Whistleblower Office provides a step-by Step set of instructions for folks who see or suspect someone committing tax fraud. The links is: “https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f211.pdf”

The IRS will pay forensic whistleblowers who provide specific and credible information to the IRS if the information results in the collection of taxes, penalties, interest or other amounts from the noncompliant taxpayer. However, you can’t just suspect they are crooks, you need to be able to provide sound and solid information, not speculation. So don’t expect the IRS to help you solve personal problems, go after your Ex, or get even with a business you don’t like.

 

What are the rules for getting the reward?

There are two types of awards:

  1. If the taxes, penalties, interest and other amounts in dispute exceed $2 million, the reward can be between 15% to 30% of the amount collected.
    1. If the case deals with an individual tax cheat, the perp’s annual gross income must be over $200,000.
  2. If the total amount is less than $2 million, the maximum award is15%.

But remember, the awards are discretionary and the informant cannot dispute the outcome of the claim in Tax Court. The rules for these cases are found at Internal Revenue Code Section 7623(a) – Informant Claims Program. If you decide to submit information and seek an award for doing so, use IRS Form 211. The same form is used for both award programs.

Take advantage of these tax breaks while you can!

Take advantage of these tax breaks while you can!

About Balog+Tamburri CPAs
Rick Balog & Rob Tamburri

At Balog + Tamburri, CPA’s we are constantly scanning the interne for key bits of information for our clients. We just ran across these. Grab these tax breaks before they disappear

The 115th Congress convenes for the first time in 2017, when it’s expected to consider major tax reform.  Some tax deductions and credits may be traded for lower overall rates in the reform plans of the Trump administration and the Republican congressional leadership, so tax preparers may want to make sure their clients make the most of them now,

Go to this link for an exhaustive list:

http://www.accountingtoday.com/list/grab-these-tax-breaks-before-they-disappear?utm_campaign=daily-jan%2025%202017&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&eid=c90d3871b5ae357cfc39b06115606fb1

If you would like a no-cost consultation to discuss your personal business tax or accounting challenges, please call Rick Balog at 904-945-1220 in Florida, or Rob Tamburri at 770-804-6403 in Georgia.  to explore our tax planning and preparation services, please click on the following link:  http://flgacpa.com/tax-services/

New Intuit Phishing Scam

New Intuit Phishing Scam

Balog + Tamburri  is sounding the “Lookout” alarm for all you users of Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software involving a new email phishing scam targeting. If you receive an email in your inbox with the subject line, “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.”—DON’T OPEN IT!!

This FAKE email claims to be a confirmation from Intuit that you have changed your business name and contains a hyperlink for you to click to cancel the request. If you do, the click unleashes a vicious virus that takes you to a site that downloads malware to their device.  The malware then allows the cyber-criminals to capture passwords and other personal information from your device.

We advise you not to click on this links. We advise that you check the reply email address in such messages by “hovering” over the suspicious-looking link to see where it leads before clicking to make sure it’s going to a Web domain you recognize and trust and not one with a similar-sounding name. You should also consider how Intuit normally contacts you to determine if this is a bogus request.

We are all too familiar with phishing scams. They have become all too commonplace today and not unique to Intuit.  Other Phishing emails can be skillfully constructed to impersonate a company, including using the actual corporate logo. Businesses should ensure that they have structured processes in place to make sure your employees can recognize a Phishing Scam and that they don’t even open emails from unknown senders, and that they know what to do and who to ask before they click.

Tax practitioners have also fallen victims to phishing schemes, and the Internal Revenue Service has periodically sent out warnings about the latest variations on the scams. Fraudsters sometimes purport to be emailing from the IRS or tax software companies to lure victims into divulging passwords or sensitive financial information.

At Balog + Tamburri, CPA’s, we take internet security very seriously.  We constantly advise our clients to ensure that their vital business records and sfe, protected, and proper back-up files are maintained. about-us-pic-revIf you have any questions, or would like to discuss how to enhance your internet and email security, please contact either Rick Balog or Rob Tamburri, at Info@flgacpa.com, or call Rick Balog, CPA/CFF, Managing Partner, at 904-945-1220.