January 2024 Client Line Newsletter

The IRS Enforcement Spotlight May Be On You – the IRS has launched a sweeping, historic effort to “restore fairness in tax compliance” by focusing more on high-income earners, partnerships and corporations.

Safety Deposit Boxes – are safe deposit boxes 20th century ready?

Stay On The Comfortable Retirement Track – there’s no better time than the beginning of the year to review your retirement plan.

Healthy Money Habits – your relationship with money may have its roots in your childhood.

January 2024 Client Profile

Passing On Family Heirlooms and Keepsakes – personally meaningful items are often overlooked when creating an estate plan.

January 2024 Questions and Answers

Don’t Forfeit Your Solo 401(k) – a solo plan is an excellent way for sole proprietors to pack away retirement funds.

A Surprising Employee Flight-Risk – about 30% of employees leave their jobs within a month of their first promotion.

October 2023 Client Line Newsletter

Year-End Tax Planning – the more your business minimizes its tax liability, the better your bottom line.

Minimize Taxes – Boost Retirement Funds – max out your annual contribution to your 401(k) retirement plan.

Is It Time for That Talk – if you haven’t had that talk or it’s been a while, there’s not time like the present to discuss expectations.

October 2023 Client Profile

Beware the Wash Sale Rule – sell securities in which you have a tax loss, claim the loss and repurchase the assets.

IRS Upgrades for Small Businesses – no need for a crystal ball to discern what small businesses may see ahead from the IRS.

October 2023 Question and Answer

A Look at Social Media Advertising Statistics

September 2023 Client Line Newsletter

Employee Benefits: Eliminate Coverage Gaps – a well thought-out employee benefit program will help you retain employees.

September 2023 Client Profile

A Checklist for Selling Your Business – what’s next after you decide to sell your business.

September 2023 Question and Answer

Higher 2024 HSA and HDHP Limits – good news for you and your employees.

Don’t Overlook Your Digital Estate Assets – your digital presence should be a part of your estate plan.

Improve Your Credit Scores – simple guidance on how you may be able to improve your credit score.

Business Takes On Financial Challenges – a look at the percentage of businesses that have experienced financial challenges.

Sales Tax Rates by State

Let’s take a closer look at the states with the highest and lowest sales tax.

5 HIGHEST RATES BY STATE

Louisana – 9.55%
Tennessee – 9.547%
Arkansas – 9.48%
Washington – 9.29%
Alabama – 9.22%

5 LOWEST RATES BY STATE

Alaska – 1.76%
Hawaii – 4.44%
Wyoming – 5.43%
Wisconsin – 5.43%
Maine – 5.50%

March 2023 Client Line Newsletter

2023 Tax Updates – tax updates for businesses and individuals.

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Basics – another transfer tax akin to the gift and estate tax.

What to Consider When Purchasing Life Insurance – choosing the right life insurance policy.

What Do Diversity and Inclusion Mean in Business – a company’s mission, strategies and policies designed to encourage an inclusive workplace that attracts a diverse pool of talent.

Tax Return Extensions – you are entitled to a six-month extension but you must let the IRS know.

March 2023 Client Profile

March 2023 Question and Answer

Number of 2020 Returns Processed by the IRS – statistics on returns processed.

Sales Tax Rates by State – states with the highest and lowest sales tax rates.

Year-End Tax Moves

There’s still time for last-minute tax savings if you act before January 1.

DEFER INCOME TO 2023

Some tax thresholds for 2023 will see larger than usual increases due to 2022’s inflation. (See Q&A article for more information on how inflation impacts your tax bill.) The 2023 standard deduction will increase significantly. If you don’t itemize deductions, consider deferring some of your 2022 income into 2023 to take advantage of a larger standard deduction. While it might not be possible to put off your wages, you may be able to delay an expected year-end bonus until 2023.

TAKE RMDs ON TIME

If you reach age 72 in 2022, this is the first year you must take minimum distributions (RMD) from most of your tax-deferred retirement accounts. RMDs must be taken by December 31 each year. But if it’s your first year taking RMDs, you have a grace period until April 1, 2023, to take your first distribution. Failing to withdraw the required minimum amount each year comes with hefty penalties.

There is an alternative if you don’t need the funds. Instead, you can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). Have your account custodian distribute the money directly to your specified charity to avoid tax consequences on your personal tax return.

SPEND ALL YOUR FUNDS

Remember to use all the funds you have in your flexible spending account before the end of the year. If your plan is structured as “use it or lose it,” any unused balance is forfeited, and your employer keeps the money. But some programs allow a short rollover period. If you’re unsure, ask your human resources officer, so you don’t lose out.

2022 Q4 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the fourth quarter of 2022. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.

Note: Certain tax-filing and tax-payment deadlines may be postponed for taxpayers who reside in or have businesses in federally declared disaster areas.

Monday, October 3

The last day you can initially set up a SIMPLE IRA plan, provided you (or any predecessor employer) didn’t previously maintain a SIMPLE IRA plan. If you’re a new employer that comes into existence after October 1 of the year, you can establish a SIMPLE IRA plan as soon as administratively feasible after your business comes into existence.

Monday, October 17

  • If a calendar-year C corporation that filed an automatic six-month extension:
    • File a 2021 income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due.
    • Make contributions for 2021 to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Monday, October 31

  • Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for third quarter 2022 (Form 941) and pay any tax due. (See exception below under “November 10.”)

Thursday, November 10

  • Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for third quarter 2022 (Form 941), if you deposited on time (and in full) all of the associated taxes due.

Thursday, December 15

  • If a calendar-year C corporation, pay the fourth installment of 2022 estimated income taxes.

Contact us if you’d like more information about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines.

Cyber risks: A critical part of your auditor’s risk assessment

As businesses and not-for-profit entities increasingly rely on technology, cyberthreats are becoming more sophisticated and aggressive. Auditors must factor these threats into their risk assessments. They can also help you draft cybersecurity disclosures and brainstorm ways to mitigate your risk of an attack.

Increasing risks

How much does a data breach cost? The average has reached an all-time high of $4.35 million, according to the newly released “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022.” The report, published by independent research group Ponemon Institute, also found that 83% of respondents have experienced more than one data breach.

Another key finding is that the average cost of a data breach increased by roughly 13% during the pandemic. Why? One reason is the increase in remote working arrangements. Many organizations now have sensitive data stored in more places than ever before — including laptops, cloud-based storage, email, portals, mobile devices and flash drives — providing many potential areas for unauthorized access.

Ransomware attacks are also on the rise, in part due to geopolitical instability. According to the study, ransomware attacks were up 41% in 2022 compared to the previous year. These attacks cost organizations an average of $4.54 million per incident in 2022, excluding any ransom paid to the perpetrator. Ransomware attacks generally take longer to detect and contain than other types of data breaches.

Targeted data

Hackers may try to steal valuable information about your organization’s employees and customers. Examples include payment card data, protected health data and personal identifiable information, such as phone numbers, addresses and Social Security numbers.

Another target may be valuable intellectual property, such as customer lists, proprietary software, formulas, strategic business plans and financial data. These intangible assets may be sold or used by competitors to gain market share or competitive advantage.

Risk assessment

As the frequency and severity of cyberattacks have increased, data security has become a critical part of the audit risk assessment. In recent years, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has interviewed auditors of companies that have experienced a cybersecurity breach.

These interviews reveal that audit firms provide varying levels of guidance, both when assessing risk at the start of the engagement and when uncovering a cybersecurity incident that occurred during the period under audit or during audit fieldwork. For example, auditors usually ask management what’s being done to understand, detect and prevent computer system breaches.

Another key finding of the PCAOB research is that the costs associated with cybersecurity breaches may not always be apparent. A major cybersecurity breach can cause more than lost profits; it may also result in a loss of customers, reputational damage and even bankruptcy.

We can help

Though PCAOB’s research focuses on public companies, any organization can be the victim of a cyberattack. And the effects may be even more devastating for those with fewer resources to absorb the losses and assign dedicated staff to respond to breaches. Our firm is atop the latest cybersecurity trends. Our auditors can help your organization assess its cyber risks and improve the effectiveness of internal controls over sensitive data. Contact us for more information.

September 2022 Questions and Answers

QUESTION:

How do I freeze my credit?

ANSWER:

A credit freeze protects you by blocking access to your credit reports.

You’ll need to contact each credit bureau separately: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You can call their toll-free numbers or visit their websites.

Although each bureau has different requirements, you’ll generally need to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and address.

And if you complete your freeze on the phone, be prepared to answer some authentication questions based on information from your credit report to verify your identity.

Partners may have to report more income on tax returns than they receive in cash

Are you a partner in a business? You may have come across a situation that’s puzzling. In a given year, you may be taxed on more partnership income than was distributed to you from the partnership in which you’re a partner.

Why does this happen? It’s due to the way partnerships and partners are taxed. Unlike C corporations, partnerships aren’t subject to income tax. Instead, each partner is taxed on the partnership’s earnings — whether or not they’re distributed. Similarly, if a partnership has a loss, the loss is passed through to the partners. (However, various rules may prevent a partner from currently using his or her share of a partnership’s loss to offset other income.)

Pass through your share

While a partnership isn’t subject to income tax, it’s treated as a separate entity for purposes of determining its income, gains, losses, deductions and credits. This makes it possible to pass through to partners their share of these items.

An information return must be filed by a partnership. On Schedule K of Form 1065, the partnership separately identifies income, deductions, credits and other items. This is so that each partner can properly treat items that are subject to limits or other rules that could affect their correct treatment at the partner’s level. Examples of such items include capital gains and losses, interest expense on investment debts and charitable contributions. Each partner gets a Schedule K-1 showing his or her share of partnership items.

Basis and distribution rules ensure that partners aren’t taxed twice. A partner’s initial basis in his or her partnership interest (the determination of which varies depending on how the interest was acquired) is increased by his or her share of partnership taxable income. When that income is paid out to partners in cash, they aren’t taxed on the cash if they have sufficient basis. Instead, partners just reduce their basis by the amount of the distribution. If a cash distribution exceeds a partner’s basis, then the excess is taxed to the partner as a gain, which often is a capital gain.

Illustrative example

Two people each contribute $10,000 to form a partnership. The partnership has $80,000 of taxable income in the first year, during which it makes no cash distributions to the two partners. Each of them reports $40,000 of taxable income from the partnership as shown on their K-1s. Each has a starting basis of $10,000, which is increased by $40,000 to $50,000. In the second year, the partnership breaks even (has zero taxable income) and distributes $40,000 to each of the two partners. The cash distributed to them is received tax-free. Each of them, however, must reduce the basis in his or her partnership interest from $50,000 to $10,000.

More rules and limits

The example and details above are an overview and, therefore, don’t cover all the rules. For example, many other events require basis adjustments and there are a host of special rules covering noncash distributions, distributions of securities, liquidating distributions and other matters. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how a partner is taxed.