Friday, October 30, 2015

Calling the IRS Requires Patience

Cathy A. Robinson, CPA
Senior Manager
You may have read one of our most recent blogs in regards to identity theft. To reiterate, we advised those who are victims of fraud and identity theft to contact the IRS. What you should expect, however, is there’s a strong possibility you will be experience a wait time.
According to an article in Accounting Today, due to budget cuts the IRS customer service has suffered greatly. The article reports the IRS answered only 32 percent of taxpayer calls routed to a customer service representative. Hold time, for taxpayers able to get through, averaged 23 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Practitioner Priority Service Line was answered 45 percent of the time, with a hold time averaging 45 minutes.
You may also experience what the IRS calls a “courtesy disconnect.” This occurs when the IRS switchboard is overloaded and it cannot handle anymore calls. In 2014, this happened to 544,000 callers. This number skyrocketed in 2015 to an alarming 8.8 million people.
If you end up on the phone with an IRS agent remember you aren’t the only experiencing a wait time. Please be patient, and remember they’re there to help.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good News For Ohio Nonprofits

Tony LaNasa
Managing Principal-Columbus Office

As an HW Nonprofit Advisor I recognize the importance of our clients being informed of the latest changes occurring in the industry.

Ohio nonprofit organizations received great news on September 29th when the Ohio Revised Code Sec. 4123.01 was amended in HB 52 to not consider unpaid corporate officers or volunteers as employees for the purpose of workers’ compensation.  This great news is less costs to nonprofits in premiums, and more dollars for the nonprofits mission and purpose.

To read more on this subject visit the OSCPA's website or click here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Our 7 Need to Know Tax Strategies for End of Year Tax Planning

Cathy A. Robinson, CPA
Senior Manager
Last week, we shared some tax planning ideas for small businesses.  We recognize that it's just as important for individuals to have a tax strategy in place as well. This week, we share some ideas for individuals, though not all items are ideas individuals will be able to implement. 

1.       Review your filing status to ensure the change will not impact income. 

2.        Postpone income until 2016 and accelerate deductions into 2015, you believe you will be in a lower bracket next year.

a.        Accelerating deductions could be accomplished by bunching deductions together.  For example, you could pay three real estate taxes in one year versus two. 

b.      You could use your credit card to pay deductible expenses before the end of the year.

c.       You may consider if it is advantageous to defer your bonus to 2016.

3.        Consider realizing losses on stock or consider selling appreciated assets to offset pre-existing losses.  Of course, for either of these transactions you will need to consult with your investment advisor.

4.       Review your required minimum distributions from your IRA or 401(K).   You could delay first required distribution, but it might mean that you double up your distribution in the next year and push you into a higher tax bracket.

5.       Pay your fourth quarter state or local estimated payment before the end of the year.

6.       If you paid a balance with your state and/or local income tax returns in 2014, remember to include the amounts paid with your 2015 returns.

7.       If applicable, remember to consider the effect of any of your year-tax planning on AMT (alternative minimum tax).  A deduction may not save taxes if you are subject to AMT.

As always, contact your tax professional in order to begin the planning process so you do not have any surprises in April.

Friday, October 9, 2015

7 End of Year Tax Planning Tips for Small Business Owners

Cathy A. Robinson
Senior Manager

We are now in the fourth quarter of 2015, and it’s time to think about tax planning.


However, Congress hasn’t passed the tax extenders, which are a part of our tax planning and strategies.  Several expired extenders include:  50% bonus depreciation, increase in expensing to $500,000 of Section 179 property, work opportunity credit, and research and experimentation credit.  

In the meantime, small businesses owners should still begin preparing for the end of the year. Tax strategies small business owners should consider include below:

·         If you buy a heavy SUV, pickup, or van for your business, you have the ability to write off up to $25,000 of the cost of a new or used heavy SUV that is placed in service before the end of your business tax year that began in 2015.

·         Determine if you can take advantage of the “de minimis safe harbor election”.

·         Juggle income and deductible expenditures through year-end if you are in a higher tax bracket this year.

·         If you’re eligible, utilize the cash method accounting. It gives you the flexibility to manage 2015 and 2016 income to minimize taxes over the two-year period.

·         Have a cost segregation study prepared.

·         Implement a cash balance pension plan.

·         Set up an IC-DISC, if you qualify.

Stay tuned as more develops in regards to business extenders.   As tax professionals,  we would like to know if these tax planning strategies will be extended early enough to make an impact in developing a tax plan for our clients.  However, review where your business income is now and begin your roadmap to implementation of your tax strategies.  If you have questions concerning tax planning for your business, contact your accounting professional.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Cathy A. Robinson, CPA
Senior Manager
Did you know an estimated 17.6 million people were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft in 2014? According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, seven percent of all residents age 16 or older were victims, with three percent of people experiencing the misuse of a credit card.  Over the last two weeks, we have discussed ways to recover from identity theft and social security fraud. So what can you do to protect yourself from the threat of identity theft?

If you’ve received a phone call from someone impersonating an IRS agent demanding you pay immediately, chances are it is a scam. Should you receive this type of phone call, report it. The IRS asks these phone calls and other IRS impersonation crimes be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or online at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.  

If you receive an email from the IRS, even if the logo from the IRS looks real, it is a scam. The IRS does not make initial contact via the phone or email. 

Steps to Protect Yourself: 

·         Keep your social security card and any documentation in a safe place. Do not carry your social security card. 

·         Be mindful about sharing your social security number, even when someone asks for it. Share it ONLY WHEN ABSOLTUELY NECESSARY.

·         Protect your financial information on your computer. In a world where everything is digital, you need to make sure to protect your computer. This means using firewalls, anti-spam and virus software, and routinely changing your password to protect yourself and your information.

·         Check your credit report annually.

·         The IRS recommends checking your social security administration earning statement annually.

·         Finally, protect any of your identifiable information by only providing the information when YOU initiate contact or know who is asking for it.

Recovering from identity theft is hard, but you can take the precautions to prevent it from happening with these few simple steps. 

Supplemental information for this article came from the below: