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  • 05/16/2018 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ►UPCOMING WEB CONFERENCES

    The Office of Professional Responsibility: What You Need to Know about Practicing before the IRS (rebroadcast)

    ·         Date: June 13, 2018
    ·         Time: 2 p.m. (ET); 1 p.m. (CT); 12 p.m. (MT); 11 a.m. (PT)
    ·         Register here: https://www.webcaster4.com/Webcast/Page/445/24842

    Please check HERE for National and Local webinars for Tax Professionals.

    Check HERE for webinars and videos recently posted to the IRS Video Portal.

    ►TAX REFORM

    IRS urges ‘Paycheck Checkup’ for key groups; tax withholding may need adjustment

    ·         Following the recent tax law changes, it’s especially important for certain people to use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to check if they are having the right amount of withholding.

    ·         Among the groups who should check their withholding are people who:

    ·         Belong to a two-income family.

    ·         Work two or more jobs or only work for part of the year.

    ·         Have children and claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.

    ·         Have older dependents, including children age 17 or older.

    ·         Itemized deductions on their 2017 tax returns.

    ·         Earn high incomes and have more complex tax returns.

    ·         Received large tax refunds or had large tax bills for 2017.

    Newly-revised estimated tax form and publication can help people pay the right amount

    ·         The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the way tax is calculated for most taxpayers, including those with substantial income not subject to withholding.

    ·         The newly revised estimated tax package, Form 1040-ES is designed to help taxpayers figure these payments correctly.

    ·         A companion publication, Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, has additional details, including worksheets and examples, that can help taxpayers determine whether they should pay estimated tax, such as those who have dividend or capital gain income, owe alternative minimum tax or have other special situations.

    Inflation Adjustments Under Recently Enacted Tax Law

    ·         The IRS has updated the tax year 2018 annual inflation adjustments to reflect changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The tax year 2018 adjustments are generally used on tax returns filed in 2019.

    New rules and limitations for depreciation and expensing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

    ·         A taxpayer may elect to expense the cost of any section 179 property and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service. The new law increased the maximum deduction from $500,000 to $1 million. It also increased the phase-out threshold from $2 million to $2.5 million.

    ·         See the article for more information about:

    Temporary 100 percent expensing for certain business assets (first-year bonus depreciation)

    Changes to depreciation limitations on luxury automobiles and personal use property

    Changes to treatment of certain farm property

    IRS grants relief for taxpayers affected by reduction of maximum deductible Health Savings Account contributions

    ·         A change in the inflation adjustment calculations for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reduced the maximum deductible HSA contribution for taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP by $50, to $6,850.

    ·         For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.

    IRS issues guidance on business interest expense limitations

    ·         The Treasury Department and the IRS issued Notice 2018-28, which provides guidance for computing the business interest expense limitation under recent tax legislation enacted on Dec. 22, 2017.

    IRS Announces 2018 Pension Plan Limitations Not Affected by Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

    ·         The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 does not affect the tax year 2018 dollar limitations for retirement plans announced in IR 2017-177 and detailed in Notice 2017-64.

    Many corporations will pay a blended federal income tax this year under the new tax reform law

    ·         Many U.S. corporations elect to use a fiscal year end and not a calendar year end for federal income tax reporting purposes.

     

    ·         Due to a provision in the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a corporation with a fiscal year that includes Jan. 1, 2018 will pay federal income tax using a blended tax rate and not the flat 21 percent tax rate under the TCJA that would generally apply to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

    ►OTHER NEWS

    What Taxpayers Should do When They Need More Time to Pay

    ·         Here are some tips for those who can’t pay their taxes in full.

    Current Year Transcript Availability

    ·         Use the table to determine the general timeframe when you can request a transcript for a current year Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ return filed on or before the April due date. Availability varies based on the method you used to file your return and whether you have a refund or balance due.

    Sharing Economy Tax Center

    ·         Small business owners that offer goods and services online may be part of the sharing economy. Activities such as ride sharing, freelancing, renting a spare bedroom and crowd funding are usually taxable. The IRS has a Sharing Economy Tax Center to help these taxpayers find the information they need to meet their tax obligations.

    Combat zone tax benefits now available to Armed Forces members who served in the Sinai Peninsula; IRS accepting retroactive tax refund claims back to 2015

    ·         U.S. Armed Forces members who served in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt may qualify for combat zone tax benefits retroactive to June 2015, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

    ·         Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017, members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard who performed services in the Sinai Peninsula can now claim combat zone tax benefits.

    ·         Eligible service members should review Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.

    ►IDENTITY THEFT / DATA THEFT / SCAM ALERTS

    IRS, Security Summit Partners warn of new twist on phone scam; crooks direct taxpayers to IRS.gov to “verify” calls

    ·         There is new twist (yes, another new twist!) on an old phone scam as criminals use telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills.

    ·         In the latest version of the phone scam, criminals claim to be calling from a local IRS TAC office. Scam artists have programmed their computers to display the TAC telephone number, which appears on the taxpayer’s Caller ID when the call is made.

    ·         If the taxpayer questions their demand for tax payment, they direct the taxpayer to IRS.gov to look up the local TAC office telephone number to verify the phone number. The crooks hang up, wait a short time and then call back a second time, and they are able to fake or “spoof” the Caller ID to appear to be the IRS office calling. After the taxpayer has “verified” the call number, the fraudsters resume their demands for money, generally demanding payment on a debit card.

    When to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit

    ·         Taxpayers who experience tax-related identity theft may wonder when they should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.

    ·         In the vast majority of tax-related identity theft cases, there is no need to file the Form 14039 affidavit. The Form 14039 affidavit should be filed if the taxpayer attempts to file an electronic tax return and the IRS rejects it because a return bearing the taxpayer’s Social Security number already has been filed. Or, it should be filed if the IRS instructs the taxpayer to do so.

    ►YOUR PRACTICE

    Speed Up Correspondence Audits with Secure Messaging

    ·         The IRS is testing the Taxpayer Digital Communications (TDC) Secure Messaging program to streamline correspondence audits. The TDC program focuses on audits involving Schedule A Itemized Deductions, the Child Care Credit and the Education Credit, which are processed by the IRS Philadelphia Campus. For approximately 19,000 of these audits, taxpayers and their tax professionals with valid powers of attorney (POA) can communicate with the IRS using secure messaging.

    ·         This program is by invitation only. If your client is under audit with the Philadelphia Campus and the audit letter says the client can use secure messaging to reply to the IRS, encourage your client to sign up using the website provided in their letter. Once your client registers via IRS Secure Access, you will be able to register under your own SSN and complete the request access verification process.

    ·         Before you can participate as a tax professional, your power of attorney must be filed on the IRS Centralized Authorization File (CAF) system. After you authenticate and the IRS verifies your power of attorney, you will have access to your own secure messaging mailbox.

    ·         Additional Information regarding secure messaging and other options is available on IRS.gov at Alternatives to Secure Messaging.

    Tax law, cybersecurity key topics at the 2018 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums

    ·         With recent tax law changes and continued cybersecurity threats facing the tax community, the IRS encourages tax professionals to sign up for this summer’s Nationwide Tax Forums to get the latest information and developments.

    ·         Each of the five IRS Nationwide Tax Forums is a three-day event with more than 40 seminars and workshops. These focus on a wide variety of federal and state tax issues presented by experts from the IRS and partner organizations. Tax professionals can earn up to 18 continuing education credits.

    ·         Tax professionals who pre-register by June 15 will receive an early bird rate of $235 per person. The standard rate of $255 is available starting June 16 and ends two weeks prior to the start of each Forum. Attendees registering on-site or after the deadlines below will pay $370.         

    Location                                   Forum Dates                Standard Reg Deadline

    Atlanta, GA                               July 10 - 12                   June 26

    National Harbor, MD                  July 17 - 19                   July 3

    (near Washington, DC)

    San Diego, CA                          Aug. 7 - 9                      July 24

    Chicago, IL                               Aug. 21 – 23                 Aug. 7

    Orlando, FL                               Sept. 11 – 13                Aug. 28

    Keep All Information for a Complete Tax Record

    ·         As a tax professional, you know how important it is to keep good records. Did you know that includes records of electronic and telephone contacts with the IRS? If questions later arise, having a complete record of all documents and contacts may speed up resolution of your issue.

    ·         If you need to contact the IRS by telephone, note key information from the conversation, such as:

    The date and time of the call

    The name and employee identification number of the contact representative

    Any resolution or information you received from the representative.

    ·         Before you call, also check IRS.gov for the topics and information people ask about most. You may find the information you are looking for without having to call the IRS.

    ►EMPLOYERS AND BUSINESS OWNERS:

    Business owners: Ensure employees check their withholding

    ·         Business owners should remind employees to check their withholding and do a “paycheck checkup” following changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Using the Withholding Calculator is the best way for employees to check that they aren’t having too much or too little tax withheld from their paychecks.

    IRS provides certain small employers with relief for the small business health care tax credit for 2017 and later years

    ·         The IRS issued guidance that provides relief for certain small employers that wish to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for 2017 and later years.

    ·         In general, the relief provided helps employers who first claim the credit for all or part of 2016 or a later taxable year for coverage offered through a SHOP Marketplace, but don’t have SHOP Marketplace plans available to offer to employees for all or part of the remainder of the credit period because the county where the employer is located has no SHOP Marketplace plans.

    ►NEWS FROM OTHER AGENCIES

    U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division

    ·         Mission Statement: The Wage and Hour mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce.

    ·         The WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes.

    ►IN EVERY ISSUE

    Tools for Tax Professionals

    ·         Subscribe to e-News for Tax Professionals

    Preparers can register to get this electronic newsletter. It’s one of the best ways for tax professionals to get the latest national and local IRS news. (Editor’s note: most of the articles in this monthly newsletter come from e-News for Tax Professionals.)

    • Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts
    • We send out emails each time there’s a new tax scam. It gets confusing to remember all of them. You don’t have to! This page lists ALL scams targeting taxpayers, tax professionals and others

    ·   Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

    Loads of info here, including:

    Federal Trade Commission:

  • 05/02/2018 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    North Dakota Practices for Sale: gross revenues shown: Southwest ND Tax & Accntg $350K - 90% tax/10% accntg/payroll; Southeast ND CPA $141K - 75% tax/8% Accntg/Bkkping/13% audits/reviews/4% other. For more information call 800-397-0249 or view listing details and register for free email updates at www.APS.net.

    THINKING OF SELLING YOUR PRACTICE? Accounting Practice Sales is the leading marketer of tax and accounting practices in North America. We have a large pool of buyers, looking for practices to purchase. We also have the experience to help you find the right fit for your firm, negotiate the best price and terms and get the deal done. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you about our risk-free and confidential services. For more information call Trent Holmes with the APS Holmes Group at 1-800-397-0249 or email Trent@APS.net.

  • 04/27/2018 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Published on Thursday, January 25, 2018 by Jeff Budiac
    In today’s strong economy, businesses large and small are booming. But with growth comes added complexity. Are businesses using accounting software that’s up to the task?

    Read more here...

  • 04/16/2018 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Now in its tenth year, the AICPA Leadership Academy continues to encourage emerging leaders, who understand the legacy of the profession and have the passion (and skills) necessary to address the challenges of an everchanging global business environment, to volunteer at state and national levels. Participants focus on deepening their unique leadership strengths thereby providing a solid foundation for volunteer positions. 

    Scheduled for Oct. 7-11, 2018, in Durham, NC, the 4-day event focuses on developing the four Cs:

    1. Competency: Personal and professional leadership competencies
    2. Context: Understanding the larger context of the accounting profession and business environment
    3. Collaboration: Engagement in highly collaborative learning experiences
    4. Community: Building new peer relationships

    We hope you will consider sponsoring or recommending a deserving “rising-star” for this once-in-lifetime event. We would love to see a candidate from ND!

    Applications are being accepted with a deadline of May 31, 2018. For more detailed information, direct your emerging leader(s) to this website.

  • 04/16/2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The AICPA is working with the AACSB to increase CPA practitioner engagement in the accreditation process. Increasing accounting practitioner engagement in the accreditation process will add value for the university accounting program seeking accreditation/reaffirmation and ultimately for the profession. The AICPA has agreed to recruit 75 CPA volunteers for the program. Selected practitioners will be a vital part of the accreditation process and governance structure by volunteering to serve on an AACSB accounting peer review team or AACSB committee. Click here for more info.

  • 03/26/2018 1:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Summit partners warn tax pros to be on alert; step up security measures

    IR-2018-68, March 22, 2018

    WASHINGTON – The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry warned tax professionals to be alert to taxpayer data theft in the final weeks of the tax filing season. The Security Summit partners urged tax professionals to enhance their data safeguards immediately.

    In recent days, the “New Client” scam has re-emerged, signaling ongoing attempts by cybercriminals to target tax professionals with spear phishing schemes. In this scam, a “new client” emails the tax pro about a tax issue, attaching documents to their email that they claim to be an IRS notice or prior-year tax information. The documents actually contain malware that, if opened, enable the criminals to steal taxpayer information.

    This filing season, the Internal Revenue Service has seen a steep upswing in the number of reported thefts of taxpayer data from tax practitioner offices. Seventy-five firms reported taxpayer data thefts in January and February, nearly a 60 percent increase from the same time last year. Much of this increase follows one scam, the erroneous refund scheme, that affected thousands of taxpayers and numerous practitioners earlier this filing season.

    January through April represents prime season for cybercriminals to attack tax practitioners, but data thefts can occur at any time. Tax professionals should be on high alert and deploy strong security measures as the filing season reaches a peak with the April 17 deadline approaching. Criminals try to take advantage of this extremely busy time of year when tax professionals are in greater contact with taxpayers and are therefore in possession of more data.

    Some tax professionals may be unaware they are victims of data theft. Here are some signs:

    • Client e-filed returns begin to reject because returns with their Social Security numbers were already filed;
    • The number of returns filed with tax practitioner’s Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) exceeds number of clients;
    • Clients who haven’t filed tax returns begin to receive authentication letters (5071C, 4883C, 5747C) from the IRS;
    • Network computers running slower than normal;
    • Computer cursors moving or changing numbers without touching the keyboard;
    • Network computers locking out tax practitioners.

    Identity thieves often are part of sophisticated criminal syndicates based in the U.S. and abroad. These syndicates are resourceful, being tax savvy and having digital expertise to pull off these crimes. They use a variety of tactics to break into tax professionals’ computer systems and steal client information if appropriate security measures have not been taken.

    A common tactic, called spear phishing, occurs when the criminal singles out one or more tax preparers in a firm and sends an email posing as a trusted source such as the IRS, e-Services, a tax software provider or a cloud storage provider. Thieves also may pose as clients or new prospects. The objective is to trick the tax professional into disclosing sensitive usernames and passwords or to open a link or attachment that secretly downloads malware enabling the thieves to track every keystroke.

    The “New Client” scam is one form of spear phishing. Here’s an example: “I just moved here from Michigan. I have an urgent Tax issue and I was hoping you could help,” the email begins. “I hope you are taking on new clients.” The email says one attachment is the IRS notice and the other attachment is the prospective client’s prior-year tax return. This scam has many variations. (See IR-2018-2, Security Summit Partners Warn Tax Pros of Heightened Fraud Activity as Filing Season Approaches.)

    The IRS Criminal Investigation Division continues to investigate a series of data thefts at tax preparers’ offices that occurred earlier this year in which the criminals added a new twist to their scheme to file fraudulent tax returns. The thieves directed the fraudulent refunds into the taxpayers’ actual bank accounts. This scam has claimed thousands of taxpayer victims. (See IR-2018-17, Scam Alert: IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds.)

    Although reports of this data theft have lessened recently, taxpayers and tax professionals should remain on alert for this scam. Taxpayers should return any fraudulent refunds to the IRS as well as discuss security options for their checking or savings accounts with their financial institutions. Here are the recommended security steps by the Security Summit:

    • Learn to recognize phishing emails, especially those pretending to be from the IRS, e-Services, a tax software provider or cloud storage provider. Never open a link or any attachment from a suspicious email. Remember: The IRS never initiates contact via email.
    • Create a data security plan using IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security – The Fundamentals, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 
    • Review internal controls:
      • Install anti-malware/anti-virus security software on all devices (laptops, desktops, routers, tablets and phones) and keep software set to automatically update.
      • Use strong and unique passwords of 10 or more mixed characters, password protect all wireless devices, use a phrase or words that are easily remembered and change passwords periodically.
      • Encrypt all sensitive files/emails and use strong password protections.
      • Back up sensitive data to a safe and secure external source not connected fulltime to a network.
      • Wipe clean or destroy old computer hard drives that contain sensitive data.
      • Limit access to taxpayer data to individuals who need to know.
      • Check IRS e-Services account weekly for number of returns filed with EFIN.
    • Those who experience a security incident or a breach resulting in data disclosure should report the incident to the appropriate IRS Stakeholder Liaison.
    • Stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals, Quick Alert and Social Media.
  • 03/26/2018 1:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here are some updated tax reform resources from the AICPA:

    AICPA’s tax team has updated two (2) PowerPoint presentations on the impact of the new tax laws, which you can find at this Dropbox link.  One presentation is for individuals, and one covers business considerations.  

    More at AICPA Tax Reform Resource Center

    The AICPA’s Tax Reform Resource Center is a great repository of resources – including this March 12 Journal of Accountancy podcast on how national tax reform is impacting state taxes.


  • 02/19/2018 9:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub. L. 115-97) has created quite a stir in the tax community regarding the status of meals in a business context. Congress moved in the Act to deny any business deduction for entertainment. And the Conference Committee Report allowed that meals “associated with operating” a trade or business remain deductible.

    But the one example the Committee Report cited is one where the meal is clearly related to travel—a class of meals no one would have doubted was still an allowed expense under the law. That leaves open the far less easy to resolve question regarding what other meals still remain deductible.

    This article, written in mid-February 2018, cannot give a conclusive, final answer to this question—that will need to await IRS guidance or eventual court cases on the issue. But we can look at what we do know right now are clearly are or are not deductible, as well as recognize those expenditures for which no absolute conclusions can yet be drawn.

    To read the rest of the document, please click here to download the PDF.

  • 02/07/2018 1:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A society staffer received an email with a attached zip file attached purporting to be tax info.

    They said they’d be in the office later to sign the return.

    We didn’t click on the link … careful ! 


  • 01/25/2018 3:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • 1)     Filing season start date

    The start date was announced:

    ·         January 29 for individual tax returns

    ·         January 8 for business tax returns

    For 2017, medical expenses deductible if over 7.5% of AGI, not 10% as planned in a previous tax bill.

    Standard Mileage Rates for 2018 Up from Rates for 2017

     Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

    54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

    • 5)     Form 1095-B and 1095-C
    • Because of these extensions, individuals may not receive their Forms 1095-B or 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 individual income tax return. While information on these forms may assist in preparing a return, the forms are not required to file. Taxpayers can prepare and file their returns using other information about their health coverage. They do not have to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C to file.

     6)     New Scam

    Consumer Alert: IRS Warns Taxpayers, Tax Pros of New Email Scam Targeting Hotmail Users

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