Tag Archives: maumee cpa firms

Protect yourself from Tax Refund Fraud

Tax refund fraud has become a growing concern for taxpayers, state and local governments, and the federal government. Tax departments are implementing strategies to prevent and detect for the 2015 tax season.

The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) is implementing additional safeguards this tax season that will delay state tax refunds. The ODT is anticipating an increase in identity theft directly affecting tax fraud.

tax-fraudLast year, ODT stopped an unprecedented number of fraudulent income tax returns seeking to steal refunds totaling more than $250 million. In previous years, attempted tax fraud averaged roughly $10 million.

In order for the ODT to detect refund fraud due to identity theft, an additional up-front filter will now be applied to all tax refund requests to examine the demographic information reported on a return. This examination will then assign a “probability of fraud” factor that will determine how the return is then further processed by ODT.

If a return is pulled for review, ODT’s additional security measures will require some taxpayers to successfully complete an Identification Confirmation Quiz before the return will continue to be processed. If a taxpayer’s return is selected for identity confirmation they will receive a letter from ODT directing them to http://www.tax.ohio.gov. This will provide access to the quiz and detailed instructions on how to complete it. Taxpayers without access to the Internet will be directed to call ODT at 1-855-855-7579.

Processing of returns for refunds will be delayed due to these additional screening and security measures. According to the ODT, electronic returns requesting a refund may take up to 15 days to be direct deposited and paper returns could take up to 30 days for a physical check to be mailed out.

Not only is the ODT taking aggressive action on identity theft and tax fraud but so is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For 2015, the IRS is introducing new procedures which will address some of the issues. Effective 2015 tax season, the IRS is limiting the number of refunds directly deposited into a single financial account or onto a prepaid debit card. Therefore, any of the subsequent refunds will be issued by paper check and mailed to the taxpayer. Exceptions will not be made.
Visit the Taxpayer’s Guide to Identity Theft for helpful tips to protect yourself from identity theft or fraud.

By: Aubrey Forche, Staff Accountant

 

Buy-Sell Agreements: Are You Prepared?

Business scenario: Fifteen years ago, I and three others started a business. We had our corporate attorney draft a buy-sell agreement which we all signed.Fast forward to current day. A triggering event occurs (a member quits, is voted out due to lack of performance, retires, becomes disabled, is going through bankruptcy, is having a divorce, etc.), what happens? Our buy-sell agreement was never updated, so what happens is dependent upon what the agreement stated 15 years ago.

In this specific case, there are a number of variables that can drastically affect the outcome of the situation at hand. If there is a shareholder dispute, the process will be fairly lengthy as a result of involving multiple attorneys and the appeals process. Who owns the stock during this timeframe? Does the former shareholder, who feels was voted out of the business unfairly, still get distributions during the lengthy appeals process?

Or, what if a member is going through a divorce, the ex-spouse wants part of the other spouse’s percentage of ownership in the business. Does the buy-sell agreement limit this from happening?

If life insurance policies are in place on each of the owners in case a triggering event occurs. Will the proceeds from the policies be enough to purchase the interest of the departing owner? Does the policy amount cover the total value of the departing member’s interest? If not, what other funding vehicle is going to be to purchase the interest? Also, is the value received by the departing member or member’s spouse “in the ballpark” of what was expected; or is there going to be some ill feelings when it is all said and done between friends (now former friends), family, etc.?

buy-sellagreementSo, let me ask you this, do you have a buy-sell agreement in place? When was it last updated? Does the buy-sell agreement address any of the items mentioned in above? Are the intentions of the ownership group the same as they were when the last buy-sell agreement was signed? Does the buy-sell agreement actually meet the expectations of those signing it?

These are critical questions that must be considered when involved in a buy-sell agreement.  Whatever you spend on a buy-sell, it will be a drop in the bucket compared to what it can save you.

A buy-sell agreement provides the peace of mind knowing that their business. It also:

  • Provides money to create a fair market value exchange
  • Promotes equitable and orderly transfer of wealth, ownership and management
  • May offer tax advantages
  • Guarantees heirs a buyer for assets they may not know how to manage
  • Provides heirs cash to pay estate debt, expenses and taxes

It is far much easier to take the time now to ensure all your “ducks are in a row” while the interests of the parties involved are in alignment. Once a triggering event does occur, the interest of the parties involved generally diverge, and either the buyer or the seller will ultimately be unhappy and unsatisfied. Which end of the spectrum will you be on? Contact our buy-sell agreement specialists today at leininger@wvco.com or call (419) 891-1040 and ask for Ryan Leininger.

By: Ryan Leininger, CPA, CVA

Cash Flow Management

The entrepreneurial spirit that compels people to start their own business does not necessarily translate into them being good business managers and this can lead to a stumbling block for many small business owners.

cashFlowOne of the most troubling aspects of running a small business can be learning how to manage cash flow. Understanding the basics of cash flow can help owners plan for large and small upcoming events in their business.

Cash is what you have at any given time to meet your daily expenses. The cash spent to buy inventory or business equipment is an asset on your balance sheet, but cannot be easily converted to pay monthly expenses. Profit on an income statement does not equate to cash in the bank if you have accounts receivables which require payment. You can’t spend profit. A profit on the income statement does not always indicate financial health unless the company also has a positive cash flow that correlates to those profits.

Many business owners use a cash flow statement to help them understand the movement of cash in their business. A cash flow statement will tell them the sources and uses of their cash.

A typical statement has three areas:

  1. Operating cash flow – is the cash generated from the day-to-day operations of the business. For example, the sale of products, the collection of accounts receivable and payments from vendors.
  2. Investing cash flow –  the cash that is used to purchase equipment.
  3. Financing cash flow – cash from outside normal business operations. For example, money from lenders or shareholders. A new loan or the repayment of a loan creates the cash inflow or outflow.

Good cash flow management requires the business owner to be forward thinking – when and how will cash be needed. How will I acquire the cash needed- thru better accounts receivable collection or from a bank in the form of a loan?

Acquiring the skills necessary to become adept at cash flow management could mean the difference between business success and business failure.

William Vaughan Company has the skill and expertise to help our clients with all aspects of their business management and cash flow is just a small part of overall good business management.

By: Chris Schultz. Accountant

IRS Releases 2015 Standard Mileage Rates

The IRS has recently announced the 2015 standard mileage rates available for use in calculating the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Starting January 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, which is up from the 56 cents per mile currently allowed in 2014. In addition, the rate will change to 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, which is actually down half a cent from the 2014 rate. The rate for charitable miles driven will remain at 14 cents per mile as this rate is fixed by Congress.

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Some may wonder why there is such a difference between the business miles rate and the rate for medical or moving purposes. The reasoning behind this is that, in calculating the rate for business miles driven, the IRS uses an annual study of the various fixed and variable costs associated with operating a vehicle. These costs include depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. As inflation causes the cost of many of these expenses to rise, the IRS adjusts their rate for business miles accordingly. In contrast, the rate for medical and moving purposes is based only on variable costs, like gas and oil. As we have all noticed, prices at the pump have dropped considerably in recent months. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts the average price for a gallon of gas to be $2.60 in 2015, the lowest full-year average since 2009. As a result, the rate for medical or moving purposes has decreased to account for this expected drop in gas prices.

It is important to remember that these standard mileage rates are optional, and taxpayers always have the option of deducting their actual costs incurred with operating a vehicle. While deducting the actual costs may require more work, due to the increased recordkeeping required, in many cases the actual costs method provides the greatest benefit. It is also important to note that, when choosing to use the standard mileage rates, taxpayers should always keep an accurate and detailed log of their miles traveled for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

By: Ruben Becerra, Staff Accountant

2015 Inflation-Adjusted Items and Tax Tables Released

irs-logoThe annual inflation adjustments for 2015 for more than 40 tax provisions along with the 2015 tax rate tables for individuals and estates and trusts have recently been released by the IRS.

Personal exemption will increase from $3,950 in 2014 to $4,000 for 2015, as well as the standard deduction, which will increase from $12,400 in 2014 to $12,600 in 2015 for married taxpayers filing joint returns. The adoption credit under Sec. 23 is inflation-adjusted from $13,190 in 2014 to $13,400 in 2015.

The revenue procedure also contains the inflation-adjusted unified credit against the estate tax, which is $5.43 million for 2015. One amount that will remain unchanged is the annual gift tax exclusion which will remain at $14,000.

The AMT exemption amount for 2015 is $83,400 for married taxpayers filing joint returns and $53,600 for single taxpayers. The Sec. 911 foreign earned income exclusion increases from $99,200 for 2014 to $100,800 for 2015.

The revenue procedure also includes the inflation adjustments for the Sec. 24 child tax credit, the Sec. 25A Hope scholarship and lifetime learning credits, the Sec. 32 earned income tax credit, and the Sec. 221 deduction for interest on qualified education loans.

The 2015 contribution limits and other figures for pension plans and other retirement-related items have been released as well, along with the Social Security Administration announcing the Social Security wage base will increase from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500 in 2015.

By: Rachel Mossing, Accountant

House Approves the Renewal of Tax Breaks

United_States_House_of_Representatives.svgLast Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to renew more than 50 expired tax breaks for individuals and businesses through the end of 2014. With an overwhelming pass of 378-46 for the one-year retroactive renewal, it now moves on to the Senate, who is increasingly likely to follow suit.

Among the biggest breaks for businesses are a tax credit for research and development, an exemption that allows financial companies such as banks and investment firms to shield foreign profits from being taxed by the U.S. and several provisions that allow businesses to write off capital investments more quickly.

The biggest tax break for individuals allows people who live in states without an income tax to deduct state and local sales taxes on their federal returns. Another protects struggling homeowners who get their mortgages reduced from paying income taxes on the amount of debt that was forgiven.

Many people are watching this bill as we are in the heart of tax planning season and a lot of these provisions could benefit business owners and individuals. The 10-year cost of the one-year bill is about $42 billion.

By: Amy Slates, CPA

Making the Most of Your Business Trip Abroad

If you travel outside of the United States and all of your time is spent doing business activities, then you can deduct the entire amount of travel expense. But say you fly to Madrid for a business meeting and you want to swing by and see Barcelona while you’re across the pond, is your travel still deductible?

Generally the rule states that for travel to be fully deductible, it has to be entirely for business purposes. But for every rule, there are exceptions. Here are four exceptions that can make your travel considered “entirely for business,” and thus making it fully deductible.

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1. You don’t have substantial control over arranging the trip.
This means you’re an employee and either not related to your employer or not a managing executive. Self-employed individuals usually have substantial control over their own business trips and need to meet one of the other exceptions.

2. You’re out of the country for no more than one week.
Any trip that doesn’t exceed 7 days (including travel days) can be fully deductible. This means that if you leave on a Wednesday and get back anytime before the following Wednesday, then you may deduct the full amount of travel.

3. You spend less than a quarter of the time on personal activities.
This means that if you’re overseas doing business for 10 days and spend 3 extra days sightseeing, then less than 25% (3/13 = 23%) is personal.

4. You don’t take major consideration into the vacation aspect of the trip.
This has a little more grey area than the other three and may be harder to prove. However, even if you do have substantial control over the arranging the trip, if you can establish that a personal vacation was not a major consideration during the planning of the trip, your travel can still be fully deductible.

Travel expenses include airfare, taxi or shuttles, or any other transportation related expenses. Of course, if you buy an additional plane or bus ticket for personal vacation or sightseeing purposes during your trip, those would not be deductible as business expenses. The same goes for other expenses that would normally be deductible; they must apply to a business purpose rather than a personal expense.

For the entire write-up on travel expenses see IRS Publication 453.

By: Anthony Mifsud, CPA