Author: Maria T. Rollins

Maria T. Rollins, CPA, MST

What Changes With the New Taxpayer First Act?

The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 is redesigning how the IRS works with taxpayers, even though it may take a while for many of the provisions to take effect.What Changes With the New Taxpayer First Act?

Some experts have highlighted the following aspects of the bill as especially important:

An independent appeals process. Taxpayers and small businesses will be able to challenge the IRS’ position without undertaking the cost and expenses of court. IRS Appeals will be an independent unit that grants taxpayers access to case files. Taxpayers will be able to protest if denied an appeal.

Innocent spouse treatment. The new law requires the U.S. Tax Court to take a fresh look at innocent spouse cases without taking previous decisions into account.

Modification of procedures for issuance of third-party summons. This is an important protection for taxpayers, especially small-business owners. It discourages the IRS from bypassing the taxpayer and contacting third parties — such as financial institutions — instead for information. The IRS should give taxpayers a meaningful opportunity to provide the information it is seeking prior to its contacting third parties. In practice, the IRS should provide the taxpayer with an understanding of what the issue is, what information is being requested and how the requested information relates to the issue.

Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Taxpayer First Act has taken a strong approach with the Advocate’s issuance of Taxpayer Advocate Directives, which focus on systemic problems taxpayers deal with. Once they are issued by the Advocate, the IRS should comply within 90 days. The Advocate Annual Report will identify any TAD that is not honored by the IRS.

Credit card payments. The IRS is now allowed to directly accept credit and debit card payments for taxes; the taxpayer must pay any processing fees. The Act also requires the IRS to try to minimize processing fees when entering into contracts with the credit card companies.

Whistle blower reforms. The Act provides protections from retaliation and allows for better communication with whistle blowers about the status of their claims.

Cyber-security and identity protection. The IRS will now have to let taxpayers know whether it suspects there is evidence of identity theft. The Agency will explain to taxpayers how to file a report with police and how to protect themselves against additional harm resulting from the identity theft.

Taxpayer Act levels the playing field

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, was quoted as saying the Act “levels the playing field to ensure taxpayers have the same information as the agency, better protects our taxpayers’ information, and reins in past IRS abuses to guarantee families and local businesses never have to fear having their accounts and property seized without fair and due process.”

As with many new laws, it will take some time to see what specifically the effects are. The legal provisions are complex and will require interpretation over time. We’ll be keeping an eye on the developments.

We’ve got your back

The new tax code is complex and every taxpayer’s situation is different – so don’t go it alone! Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

Capital Gains and Losses: How Do They Work?

Selling a capital asset results in a gain or loss and impacts your income taxes.

How do capital gains and losses work?A capital gain is a profit made when you as an individual or business sell a capital asset — investments or real estate, for instance — for a higher cost than its purchase price. A capital loss is incurred when there’s a decrease in the capital asset value compared with its purchase price. Almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes is a capital asset: a home, personal-use items like furnishings, and collectibles.

A capital gain may be short term (one year or less) or long term (more than a year). The capital gain must be claimed on income taxes. While capital gains are generally associated with stocks and mutual funds due to their volatility, a capital gain can occur on any security sold for a higher price than the price that was paid for it. Unrealized gains and losses, sometimes referred to as paper gains and losses, reflect an increase or decrease in an investment’s value but haven’t yet triggered a taxable event.

The profit you realize when you sell a capital asset at a profit is your gain over basis paid. Basis is often defined as the original price plus any related transaction costs; basis also may refer to capital improvements and cost of sale. Capital losses are used to offset capital gains of the same type: short-term losses are deducted against short-term gains, for example.

Capital gains and losses for businesses

A business may gain or lose money in two ways: It can make a profit on its sales activities or lose money by spending more than it brings in from sales. And, of course, it can gain or lose money based on its investments or sales of assets — items of value that the business owns.

Each type is taxed differently. Profits are taxed as ordinary income and at regular business or personal tax rates. Gains or losses on investments or the sale of assets are taxed as capital gains or losses, but it can depend on the type of business. When expensive equipment is involved, businesses have to consider depreciation, which takes into account the equipment’s declining value over its useful lifetime.

Capital gains and losses can come into play when a business writes off an asset, taking it off its balance sheet. That might be the case with accounts receivable when a debt is owed to the business but is unlikely ever to be paid.

Individual shareholders or business owners who sell their capital shares or owner’s equity in a business also incur capital gains or losses from those sales. Note the following distinction: Operating profits and losses result from the ongoing operations of the business; sometimes called net operating losses for tax purposes, they result from day-to-day operations.

We’ve got your back

Whether you’re buying or selling as an individual or as a business, be sure to keep track of your sales and discuss them with a qualified financial professional. The experts at KRS can help you determine whether you have a gain on loss and its tax implications. Contact managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

Audits, Reviews and Compilations: A Summary

Which financial statement overview you need from your CPA depends on your business and financing needs

Audits, Reviews and Compilations: A SummaryYou will want to prepare your financial statements in accordance with an accounting framework that’s appropriate for your business. Most of the time, you’ll opt for a CPA to produce your financial statements. Getting an accountant’s blessing is especially useful when you are applying for more credit from a bank.

Financial statements are intended to give you current information on your business’s financial standing so you can make more informed decisions. There are three levels of overview you can choose to take — compilation, review or audit — and what you select will have a lot to do with what your objective is.

The Compilation

According to guidance from the American Institute of CPAs, a compilation is suitable for use by lenders and other outside parties who may appreciate the business’s association with a CPA. There is no assurance here, but the CPA will read the financial statements in light of the financial reporting framework being used and consider whether the financial statements appear appropriate in form and are free from obvious material misstatements.

It may be appropriate when a company is seeking only relatively minor levels of financing and may have significant collateral.

The Review

The next level is a review. According to the AICPA, the review is designed to provide lenders and other outside parties with a basic level of assurance on the accuracy of financial statements. The CPA performs analytical procedures, inquiries and other procedures to obtain limited assurance on the financial statements to provide a user with a level of comfort on their accuracy.

A review might be the right move for companies seeking larger levels of financing and have more complex credit needs.

The Audit

The highest level of assurance is an audit. The CPA performs procedures to obtain “reasonable assurance” (defined as a high but not absolute level of assurance) about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement, according to the AICPA. The CPA is required to obtain an understanding of your business’s internal control and to assess fraud risk. Your CPA is also required to corroborate the amounts and disclosures included in your financial statements by obtaining audit evidence through inquiry, physical inspection, observation, third-party confirmations, examination, analytical procedures and other procedures.

An audit is an annual requirement for publicly held companies and may be advisable for other companies seeking high levels of finance and opening themselves to outside investors.

Required Frequency

How often will you want your CPA to peruse your finances? Overviews can be done in any frequency that is useful to you and your business — monthly, quarterly or annually. Some folks say that your financial statements are more than snapshots of your business but can be seen as resources to tell you where your risks and opportunities are. Financial statements can help you identify and solve potential problems before they compromise the health of your business.

We’ve got your back

Rather than guessing at audit, reviews and compilations, why not let the experts at KRS CPAs help? Learn more about our accounting and assurance services, then contact managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

The IRS and Private Tax Debt Collection

To collect unpaid taxes, the IRS is turning to private companies.

IRS Using Debt Collection AgenciesThe growing backlog of debt has proved too much for the agency, which continues to use four debt collection companies to round up outstanding payments from taxpayers who’ve been contacted numerous times and still haven’t coughed up any cash.

The new private debt collection program originally started slowly, with just a few hundred taxpayers a week receiving mailings and subsequent calls. But now it’s in full swing, with thousands of people being contacted.

Taxpayers with long-overdue tax bills who’ve received several collection notices from the IRS through the mail are now being informed that their accounts have been transferred to private collectors. The collection agencies send letters of their own, clearly identifying themselves in all communications as working for the IRS.

Collectors Follow the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act

Of course, these new debt collectors need to follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which spells out when they can call, whom they can call, and what they can and cannot say. The IRS has told the collectors not to use robocalls to contact taxpayers.

The new private debt collection program comes straight from Congress, which required this action, noting that it’s a way to fund road improvement projects for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which was passed in 2015.

The four collection agencies are CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery. These agencies explain how they work. For example, Performant notes on its website how they work and lists official government sites for more information.

Protecting Yourself from Scammers

A problem jumps into anyone’s mind: how to tell the official debt collectors from the scammers. The IRS has noted that the it is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. One sign is payment: Performant notes, for example, that it tells taxpayers to make checks out to the federal government, and not to the private agency.

So, how can taxpayers protect themselves from new scams? There are some simple ways to tell whether the call is legitimate or from a fraudster. It’s a scam if the caller does any of the following:

  • Is very aggressive or threatens you in any way with arrest or someone coming to your house.
  • Tries to pressure you to make immediate payment.
  • Asks for your credit or debit card information.
  • Requests payment via gift cards, including Amazon and iTunes, prepaid debit cards, or a wire transfer.

More information is available on the U.S. Treasury site.

We’ve got your back

Legitimate private debt collection firms will instruct taxpayers to send a check, made out to the U.S. Treasury, directly to the IRS. It’s always a good idea to check with us to keep up to date with the new program and the new scams that come from it. Of course, if you have an outstanding debt to the IRS, contact us immediately so we can help you with the process of paying the government what you owe. Don’t go it alone! Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

Medical and Dental Expenses: What Can You Deduct?

Can you deduct medical and dental expenses? That’s a complicated question.

Medical and Dental Expenses: What Can You Deduct?To start with, your deductions must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. And they have to fall into an IRS-approved category.

Deductible medical expenses may include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists and nontraditional medical practitioners.
  • Payments for inpatient hospital care or residential nursing home care, if the availability of medical care is the principal reason for being in the nursing home, including the cost of meals and lodging charged by the hospital or nursing home. However, if medical care isn’t the principal reason for the nursing home stay, then the deduction is limited to medical care costs only.
  • Payments for acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction, for participating in a smoking-cessation program, and for drugs to alleviate nicotine withdrawal that require a prescription.
  • Payments to participate in a weight-loss program for a specific disease or diseases diagnosed by a physician, including obesity; but not ordinarily payments for diet food items or the payment of health club dues.
  • Payments for insulin and payments for drugs that require a prescription.
  • Payments made for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to a chronic disease that you, your spouse, or your dependents have (if the costs are primarily for and essential to necessary medical care). However, you may not deduct costs of meals and lodging while attending a medical conference.
  • Payments for false teeth, reading or prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and for a guide dog or other service animal to assist the visually impaired or hearing-disabled person, or for a person with other physical disabilities.
  • Payments for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care that qualifies as medical expenses — payments of the actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, ambulance or for transportation by personal car to include the amount of your actual out-of-pocket expenses, gas, oil, etc. Standard mileage rate for medical expenses, plus the cost of tolls and parking apply as well.

Caveats for long-term care insurance

Payments for insurance policy premiums that cover medical care or for a qualified long-term care insurance policy are both deductible, but there are some caveats:

  • If you’re an employee, don’t include in medical expenses the portion of your premiums treated as paid by your employer under its sponsored group accident, health policy or qualified long-term care insurance policy.
  • Don’t include premiums that you paid under your employer-sponsored policy under a premium conversion policy (pre-tax), paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan (cafeteria plan), or any other medical and dental expenses unless the premiums are included in box 1 of your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

Only include medical expenses paid during the year and use the expenses only once on the return. Reduce your total deductible medical expenses by any reimbursement, whether you receive the reimbursement directly or it’s paid on your behalf to doctors, a hospital or other medical provider.

Finally, note that the threshold rises to 10 percent for 2019.

We’ve got your back

This is just a summary of a complicated series of rules.Rather than guessing at the IRS rules and requirements, why not let the KRS CPAs tax experts help? We will help you determine which expenses you can safely deduct. Contact us at 201.655.7411 to get started.

Using Financial Reports to Manage Your Business

Your financial reports can be far more useful than just a report on the state of your business.

You can use these reports to manage your business, diagnosis what’s going right and wrong, and set goals for how to grow and add to your bottom line.

What are financial reports?

Financial reports are issued at set intervals and go to shareholders, partners, investors, and potential lenders.Using Financial Reports to Manage Your Business They describe your company’s financial strengths and weaknesses and typically contain the following:

  • Balance sheet: includes statement of liabilities, assets, and business capital
  • Income statement: reports on a company’s financial performance, how it gets revenue, and how and incurs expenses
  • Cash flow statement: shows how the changes in the balance sheet affect cash and cash equivalents that flow in and out of the company

Clearly, these financial statements are essential to run your company on financial fact, not hopes and prayers. Keeping these records thoroughly is the first step in running a successful business, being prepared at tax time to pay the IRS, and accurately valuing your company should you decide to sell. Any lender or investor will want to see your financial report before deciding whether they want to hitch their money to your star.

Why GAAP is a smart move

Although some companies generate their own financial statements, many turn to their accountant to formalize their statements according to GAAP, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It’s a smart move; here’s why:

  • Accountants can present your numbers so they are easy to read and understand.
  • If you’re a public company, accountants can provide audited financials that are certified by an independent entity.
  • Accountants can professionally format your numbers, give the statement a fancy cover, and state that an independent accountant has accepted your numbers.

Hidden gold in financial statements

Financial statements are a great tool to help you answer questions about your company and to manage money and priorities. At a glance, these statements can help you determine critical expenses as well as evaluate whether your financial position is getting better or worse, whether your staff is contributing enough to the bottom line, and whether you’re meeting set benchmarks.

We’ve got your back

We can help you compile and analyze your financial statements. Rather than guessing at financial statements, why not let the experts at KRS CPAs help? Contact us at 201.655.7411 for a complimentary initial consultation.

How to Handle Bad Debt and Taxes

When can you use bad debt to reduce business income?

How to Handle Bad Debt and Taxes Even when you take the customer to court and you still don’t get your money, there’s a way to make lemonade from this lemon of a customer.

If your business has already shown this amount as income for tax purposes, you may be able to reduce your business income by the amount of the bad debt. Look at bad debt as an uncollectible account—a receivable owed by a customer, client or patient that you are not able to collect.

Bad debt may be written off at the end of the year if it is determined that the debt is in fact uncollectible.

According to the IRS, bad debt includes:

  • Loans to clients and suppliers
  • Credit sales to customers
  • Business loan guarantees

How do you write off bad debt?

Your business uses the accrual accounting method, showing income when you have billed it, not when you collect it.

If your business operates on a cash accounting basis, you can’t deduct bad debt because you don’t record income until you’ve received the payment. If you don’t get the money, there’s no tax benefit to recording bad debt. You only record the sale when you receive the money from the customer.

Under accrual accounting, manually take the bad debt out of your sales records before you prepare your business tax return.

You must wait until the end of the year, just in case someone pays.

  • Prepare an accounts receivable aging report, which shows all the money owed to you by all your customers, how much is owed and how long the amount has been outstanding.
  • Total all bad debt for the year, listing all customers who have not paid during the year. Only make this determination at the end of the year and only if you’ve made every effort to collect the money owed to your business.
  • Include the bad debt total on your business tax return. If you file business taxes on Schedule C, you can deduct the amount of all bad debt. Each type of business tax return has a place to enter bad debt expenses.

It makes sense in any kind of business—no income recorded, no bad debt.

Collection efforts are important

A business bad debt often originates as a result of credit sales to customers for goods sold or services provided. The best documentation is likely to be a detailed record of collection efforts, indicating you made every effort a reasonable person would in order to collect a debt.

Take some solace by claiming a bad business debt deduction on your tax return. Not exactly a guarantee because you need to show that the debt is worthless, but it’s good to know there may be some relief.

We’ve got your back

The tax experts at KRS can help you with important accounting issues such as bad debt. Contact us today at 201.655.7411. And did you know that KRSCPAS.com is accessible from your mobile device and is loaded with tax guides, blogs, and other resources? Check it out today!

Time to Gather All Your Papers for Taxes

Time to gather your paperwork for Tax TimeGet started organizing paperwork now to make tax time less stressful.

Most of the papers you need to document the income, interest and withheld taxes you report arrive in your mailbox in January, with investment-related 1099s often coming in February. Get ready for their arrival by creating print and online folders. It’s a good idea to create a paper and an email tax folder for messages relating directly to tax information.

Email announcements that documents are available online will land in your inbox. The postal service may deliver your W-2s in your physical mailbox — although some companies post them on a secure site for downloading. Mortgage providers, banks and other financial institutions often post important 1099 forms on your online account.

Paperless banking may have turned shoe boxes into receipt relics of the past, while your online statements often contain key backup records for such potential deductions as:

  • Charitable donations
  • Outlays for health care
  • Gambling winnings and losses
  • Property tax expenditures

Many of us ignore the line items on these statements until we start our annual tax-filing ritual. However you may save time by taking a few extra minutes each month to jot down tax-related information, like:

  • Expense title
  • Check numbers
  • Payee names
  • Dollar amounts
  • Dates

Create a spreadsheet dedicated to tax records. Throughout the year, consider downloading and printing online documents that will be available for only a limited time.

Keeping track of everything

Here are some of the documents you should have handy:

  • Documents related to life events — marriage, death of a spouse or divorce, deductible alimony payment records, adoption papers, and child custody agreements should all be saved.
  • Paperwork related to childbirth. You’ll want the newborn’s Social Security card, childcare receipts and details on college savings plans.
  • Home ownership information. Keep such paperwork as closing documents — it’s good to keep closing documents in case you paid real estate taxes or points when you closed that don’t appear on your year-end mortgage interest statement. Save annual mortgage statements.

Other documents to consider:

  • Last year’s taxes, both federal and state. These are handy as good refreshers of what you filed and documents you’ll need.
  • Retirement account contributions. Keep track of your contributions to a traditional IRA or a self-employed retirement account. Keep this information handy for tax time.
  • Education expenses. Documents help your deduction claim here.
  • State and local taxes. Save these documents so that they can be easily retrieved.

The value of a tax return doesn’t end on April 15. You’ll need to provide this document to get a mortgage, apply for student loans and check the status of your refund. Generally, the IRS can audit you for three years after a filing date, and in some cases, even longer. Hold on to your return copies and supporting documents just in case. The IRS can audit you years after you file, so be prepared.

We’ve got your back

KRSCPAS.com is accessible from your mobile device and is loaded with tax guides, blogs, and other resources to help you succeed. Check it out today!

Accounting Concerns for Legal Marijuana Business Operations

Accounting Concerns for Legal Marijuana Business OperationsAccounting for the growing cannabis industry is unique. Here’s why.

The goal of any accounting system is to ensure that accurate financial information is available timely to users. An appropriate system will include processes and procedures for collecting, recording and classifying data and will assist in preventing and detecting waste or, even worse, fraud.

So why is accounting for the growing cannabis industry so unique?

Management, investors and other financial statement users require the same accurate financial information as any other industry. However, in this growing industry, businesses must comply with strict state and federal regulations to avoid substantial penalties or even the risk of losing their business.

Cannabusiness accounting and compliance

Proper and adequate accounting systems and controls are even more critical in a cannabis business where the business “touches the plant.” Growers, processors and distributors have unique accounting and compliance needs unlike any other industry. The potential for large cash transactions and banking restrictions common in the industry further emphasize the need for proper accounting controls and procedures.

As states begin to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, businesses will need to consider the unique challenges the industry faces at the onset. The federal government considers business operations in this space to be “trafficking in controlled substances.” As such, proper accounting and reporting should incorporate the nuances of Internal Revenue Code Sec. 280E and 471 relating to cost accounting and inventory. In addition, state regulations require industry tracking and reporting of “seed to sale.” Most states with legalized marijuana industry require businesses to have inventory control and reporting systems in place as well as an interface with state mandated tracking systems. Therefore, the accounting system must provide reports and analysis to support compliance with federal and local regulations.

In this highly regulated environment, the business can be audited at any moment. All records must be available and in order to prove compliance with state and federal regulations. Furthermore, the accounting for businesses in this industry will need to provide for transactions to and from related entities, segment or separate “lines of business” reporting and consolidation. Business structures often include related entity relationships and investments. These advanced accounting issues are uncommon for most young or start-up businesses in other industries.

While many businesses entering the Cannabusiness space are new businesses, they cannot approach their accounting and bookkeeping in a manner often seen with new business start-ups. It’s common for a start-up to lack a proper accounting system and accounting controls before the business is up and running. A Cannabusiness business must have their system and controls in place well before they start operations.

We’ve got your back

Cannabusiness is a developing industry with many complicated factors. If you’re starting a business in this space, don’t go it alone! Contact Managing Partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

How to Read and Understand the Balance Sheet

How to Read and Understand the Balance SheetDetermine the health of a business by analyzing its Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a standard financial report that is often included with a business’ financial statements.

It is easy for business owners to understand the profit and loss statement (P&L), which provides business revenues and expenses for a given period. The balance sheet, however, provides a snapshot of a company’s accounts, specifically assets, liabilities and equity, at a given time.

So why is understanding your balance sheet so important?

First, as mentioned above, it includes the company’s assets at a specific point in time (i.e., month-end, year-end, etc.). A classified balance sheet will list the assets by liquidity and show what can and should be converted to cash quickly to pay for liabilities, operating expenses, or to invest in new ventures. Conversely, the non-liquid assets will also be listed and tell readers what the company owns long-term.

The liabilities section of the balance will show any upcoming amounts due in the short-term as well as any long-term balances. Usually, a liability is considered short-term if it is due within 12 months of the balance sheet date.

When reviewing a company’s balance sheet, the reader will review current liabilities as well as the current assets and determine if the company has sufficient current assets to settle short-term liabilities.

If current liabilities exceed current assets, the reader may conclude that the company may not be able to settle current liabilities as they come due.

Long term assets and liabilities

The long-term assets and liabilities also tell a story about the company’s future. Long-term assets such as notes receivable will advise the reader that the company will convert the assets to cash in the future. The long-term liabilities will advise of the future commitments the company has and its ability to settle those future commitments.

Analyzing a company’s balance sheet from one period to another will also provide information regarding the business health. For example, reviewing the trend in accounts receivable from one period to another can identify issues such as slow collections and uncollectible debts.

The equity section of the balance sheet is made up of the initial investment in the company and any accumulated profits or losses retained in the business at the balance sheet date. This balance is what the owners would expect if the company was liquidated. If equity is negative, the company would not have sufficient assets to settle its debts if the assets were liquidated at the balance sheet value.

For the balance sheet to be an effective tool for business owners in analyzing the strengths of their business, it should be kept on the accrual basis. In fact, financial statements prepared on the GAAP basis (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) are usually accrual basis. An accrual basis balance sheet will include all accounts receivables and accounts payables, thus providing an accurate snap shot of the company’s assets and liabilities at a specific date.

Conversely, cash basis balance sheets will not include the receivables and payables and, if these items are material to the business, the reader will not know what collections are expected in the short-term and what liabilities will need cash in the immediate future.

If you are a small business owner take a moment to review your balance sheet. Understanding how to improve specific account balances can help you grow a financially secure business.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, our CPAs can help you review your balance sheet and put together a plan for improving your company’s financial situation. Give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email me at [email protected]