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URGENT MEMO FOR COMPANIES THAT SELL TANGIBLE PROPERTY INTO MULTIPLE STATES

Memo To:        VA Tax Files / VA Clients From:    Peter V. DeGregori, CPA MST CGMA Date:     June 28, 2018 Re:        Change in Sales Tax: Supreme Court Ruling for South Dakota v. Wayfair Summary: On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, overturning the physical presence standard explained in Quill v. North Dakota (Sup Ct 1992) 504 U.S. 298, and other related cases. Prior to this ruling, the Quill case was an important case, which required a physical presence standard for a company to be subject to sales tax if they sold tangible property (typically items you can touch).  In general, the “physical presence” standard is a requirement for a company to be subject to sales tax.  This law became a common case / item to review if an out of state company was subject to sales tax in another state. As an example, if you have a company, located only in Florida, then generally that company would only be subject to sales tax in Florida based on sales to Florida consumers.  However, if the company shipped products into other states, then they generally they would not be subject to other states’ sales tax if they didn’t have any physical presence in that other state.   So, the outcome would be products sold outside of Florida didn’t have sales tax applied against them and this is the issue that has soured the change of this law.  If a business wasn’t subject to sales tax, then typically the consumer is responsible to pay use tax to their state.  But most consumers do not pay use tax, so the states want a method to subject out of state businesses to sales tax and this new court case has now removed the hurdle of the Quill doctrine.  States want more sales tax revenue, and they have been trying hard to collect sales tax from out of state businesses for a long time.  Now the law has changed based on this court case and states are going to be able to charge sales tax based on where the consumer resides regardless of “physical presence”. Now, let’s look at what is meant by “physical presence”.  First, this is a generalization, as each state may, unfortunately, have a different set of guidelines, in general, physical presence means that the company had property (fixed assets, inventory, etc.), people, or some other physical connection in a state to subject them to sales tax.  So, this was the concern based on the example above, the company in FL could sell products to every other state and wouldn’t be subject to sales tax in any state other than FL.  This created an unfair playing field with companies in states in which out of state resellers sold into.  So, the US Supreme Court changed the law and now companies are subject to sales tax based on revenue that is generated from a state which is also called “economic nexus”. Now this is a BIG change […]

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Watch out for tax-related identity theft scams all year long

With the filing date for 2017 in the rear-view mirror for most businesses and individuals, the last thing they probably want to think about is income taxes. Unfortunately, though, criminals who commit tax-related identity theft don’t work seasonally — they’re constantly devising and unleashing new schemes. And even though the IRS has taken successful steps to reduce tax-related identity theft in 2017, it cautions taxpayers to stay alert for scams year round and especially right after the tax filing season ends. What is tax-related identity theft? According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft generally occurs when a thief uses a stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. The victimized taxpayer may not learn of the theft until he or she attempts to file a tax return and finds that a return has already been filed for that SSN. Alternatively, the taxpayer might discover the theft upon receipt of a letter from the IRS saying it has identified a suspicious return that uses the taxpayer’s SSN. Thieves have devised a variety of methods to obtain the information they need to file a tax return under another person’s SSN. During the past several years, the IRS, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state tax agencies have issued warnings as new methods come to the forefront. How does tax-related identity theft occur? But filing fraudulent returns isn’t the only way that taxpayers are victimized. Scam artists are using multiple channels to conduct their tax-related identity theft schemes, including: Phone schemes. This past April, less than 10 days after the tax return filing deadline, the IRS highlighted a new phone scam conducted by fraudsters who program their computers to display the phone number of the local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) on the taxpayer’s Caller ID. If the taxpayer questions the legitimacy of the caller’s demand for a tax payment, the caller directs him or her to IRS.gov to verify the local TAC phone number. The perpetrator hangs up, calls back after a short period — again “spoofing” the TAC number — and resumes the demand for money. These scam artists generally require payment on a debit card, which allows them to directly access the victim’s bank account. In another phone scheme, the criminals claim they’re calling from the IRS to verify tax return information. They tell taxpayers that the agency has received their returns and simply needs to confirm a few details to process them. The taxpayers are prompted to provide personal information such as an SSN and bank or credit card numbers. Digital schemes. Emails that appear to be from the IRS are part of phishing schemes intended to trick the recipients into revealing sensitive information that can be used to steal their identities. The emails may seek information related to refunds, filing status, transcript orders or PIN information. The scammers have developed twists on this approach, too. The emails might seem to come from an individual’s tax preparer and request information needed for an IRS […]

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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act offers favorable tax breaks for businesses

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which was signed into law on December 22, 2017, contains a treasure trove of tax breaks for businesses. Overall, most companies and business owners will come out ahead under the new tax law, but there are a number of tax breaks that were eliminated or reduced to make room for other beneficial revisions. Here are the most important changes in the new law that will affect businesses and their owners. New 21% corporate tax rate Under pre-TCJA law, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15% on taxable income of $0 to $50,000; 25% on taxable income of $50,001 to $75,000; 34% on taxable income of $75,001 to $10 million; and 35% on taxable income over $10 million. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that rate also applies to PSCs. Reduced corporate dividends deduction Under pre-TCJA law, C corporations that received dividends from other corporations were entitled to partially deduct those dividends. If the corporation owned at least 20% of the stock of another corporation, an 80% deduction applied. Otherwise, the deduction was 70% of dividends received. For tax years beginning in 2018, the TCJA reduces the 80% deduction to 65% and the 70% deduction to 50%. These reductions are part of the price businesses have to pay for the new 21% corporate rate. Corporate alternative minimum tax repealed Prior to the TCJA, the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) was imposed at a 20% rate. However, corporations with average annual gross receipts of less than $7.5 million for the preceding three tax years were exempt. For tax years beginning in 2018, the new law repeals the corporate AMT. For corporations that paid the corporate AMT in earlier years, an AMT credit was allowed under prior law. The new law allows corporations to fully use their AMT credit carryovers in their 2018–2021 tax years. New deduction for pass-through businesses Under prior law, net taxable income from pass-through business entities (such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations and LLCs that are treated as sole proprietorships or as partnerships for tax purposes) was simply passed through to owners. It was then taxed at the owners’ standard rates. In other words, no special treatment applied to pass-through income recognized by business owners. For tax years beginning in 2018, the TCJA establishes a new deduction based on a noncorporate owner’s qualified business income (QBI). This new tax break is available to individuals, estates and trusts that own interests in pass-through business entities. The deduction generally equals 20% of QBI, subject to restrictions that can apply at higher income levels. QBI is generally defined as the net amount of qualified items of income, gain, deduction and loss from any qualified business of the noncorporate owner. For this purpose, qualified items are income, gain, deduction and loss that are effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. business. QBI doesn’t […]

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Sending Your Kids To Day Camp May Provide a Tax Break

When school lets out, kids participate in a wide variety of summer activities. If one of the activities your child is involved with is day camp, you might be eligible for a tax credit! Dollar-for-dollar savings Day camp (but not overnight camp) is a qualified expense under the child and dependent care credit, which is worth 20% of qualifying expenses (more if your adjusted gross income is less than $43,000), subject to a cap. For 2018, the maximum expenses allowed for the credit are $3,000 for one qualifying child and $6,000 for two or more. Remember that tax credits are particularly valuable because they reduce your tax liability dollar-for-dollar — $1 of tax credit saves you $1 of taxes. This differs from deductions, which simply reduce the amount of income subject to tax. For example, if you’re in the 24% tax bracket, $1 of deduction saves you only $0.24 of taxes. So it’s important to take maximum advantage of the tax credits available to you. Qualifying for the credit A qualifying child is generally a dependent under age 13. (There’s no age limit if the dependent child is unable physically or mentally to care for him- or herself.) Special rules apply if the child’s parents are divorced or separated or if the parents live apart. Eligible costs for care must be work-related. This means that the child care is needed so that you can work or, if you’re currently unemployed, look for work. If you participate in an employer-sponsored child and dependent care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), also sometimes referred to as a Dependent Care Assistance Program, you can’t use expenses paid from or reimbursed by the FSA to claim the credit. Determining eligibility Additional rules apply to the child and dependent care credit. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible, contact us. We can help you determine your eligibility for this credit and other tax breaks for parents. © 2018

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Before Choosing an Annuity, Know the Tax Implications

Guaranteed payments. That’s the allure of many annuities. But “guaranteed” doesn’t mean tax-free. Annuities come in many flavors and can cost a lot to set up. So when figuring out if one is right for you, you have to consider many factors, including the tax implications. The last thing you want is to be surprised by your tax bill when your goal is to have adequate income in retirement. “An annuity is a tool. You have to use it wisely,” said certified financial planner Mari Adam of Adam Financial Associates. Qualified vs. non-qualified annuities Although there are many types, annuities fall into one of two broad categories: qualified or non-qualified. And the payouts are taxed differently. If you fund an annuity with pre-tax money, it’s considered a “qualified” annuity. Payments from qualified annuities are fully subject to income tax because you weren’t taxed on your contributions when they went in or on the growth of your money as it accrued, just like in a 401(k) or traditional IRA. Qualified annuities are usually funded with money from an IRA, 401(k) or other tax-deferred account. If you buy an annuity with after-tax money, that’s considered a non-qualified annuity. You’ll only owe income tax on a portion of your payments, because you’ve already been taxed on the principal you invested. What part of your payments will be taxable is determined by a so-called “exclusion ratio,” said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US. The ratio is based on the principal you invested, the earnings on your principal and the length of your annuity. Your investment return may be fixed or variable, depending on which type of annuity you chose. If your non-qualified annuity payments are based on your life expectancy and you happen to live longer than expected, that will affect the taxes you pay, too. Say you start collecting non-qualified annuity payments at 65 and your life expectancy is 85. Your payments from age 65 to 85 will be partially taxable based on your exclusion ratio. But if you end up living to 97, 100% of your payments from years 86 to 97 could be subject to tax, Luscombe noted. There is one instance in which annuity payments could be tax free: if you bought an annuity within a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k). In that case, you use after-tax money to buy your annuity and, because it’s a Roth, the earnings will grow tax free, as opposed to just tax deferred the way they are in most other annuities. “Roths would qualify for a 100% exclusion if the timing and age requirements are met,” Luscombe said. Other tax issues to consider There are plenty of other tax considerations that come into play with annuities. For instance, depending on where you live, your state may tax annuity income somewhat differently than the federal government. “It would probably be safest to check with the law of a particular state to see if annuities are treated in that state […]

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Young Entrepreneurs Are More Likely to Rely on a CPA at Tax Time

For self-employed individuals, getting a little help from an expert accountant can make filing taxes a lot easier. Just as teachers are the authority when it comes to education, CPAs are the authority on all things taxes. But who uses accountants today, and what purpose do you serve in the eyes of your clients? In an effort to better understand how entrepreneurs interact with accountants and pay their taxes, we commissioned an independent survey of 500 self-employed workers ages 18 and up, in the US. What we found may be the key to helping you prioritize your client relationships in 2019. Older and younger taxpayers use accountants differently Would you believe self-employed workers aged 18-24 are more likely to use an accountant than those 55 and older? It’s true! While 28 percent of self-employed workers aged 18-24 rely on an accountant to do their taxes, the same can only be said for 21 percent of workers over the age of 54. But these age groups also have different reasons for using an accountant. Fifty percent of self-employed taxpayers over the age of 55 view their accountant as an essential business advisor, while only 27 percent of those under 55 would say the same. The biggest reason folks under 55 use an accountant, as opposed to just filing their taxes themselves? They don’t know how. In fact, 37 percent admit they’ve never done their taxes themselves and they never want to. Eighteen percent say doing it themselves is just a waste of time, while 17 percent claim they’ve tried and failed to do their own taxes in the past, prompting them to seek help. With a new set of federal tax laws changing the game for everyone next year, there’s likely an even greater chance taxpayers will be relying on an accountant in 2019. That is, for those who’ve realized the tax reform took place. Out of our 500 survey respondents, 9 percent didn’t know there was a tax reform. If they’re not using an accountant, what are they doing? Overall, 32 percent of self-employed workers rely on an accountant to do their taxes, but that number begs the question: What about the remaining 68 percent? As it turns out, the numbers are about even. Thirty-one percent of taxpayers say they’re doing their own taxes on paper, while the last third rely on a tax software like TurboTax. Interestingly, younger self-employed workers are less inclined to use a tax software than their older counterparts. While 42 percent of self-employed workers aged 55 and over are most likely to file online or through another tax software option, only 33 percent of taxpayers aged 18-24 would say the same. Younger taxpayers are also more likely (but only by 1 percent) to file on paper. An interesting choice for the iGeneration.   Younger workers may be better for business As an accountant, you should be heartened by these current trends. While you have yet to prove yourself an indispensable business resource in the eyes of young up-and-comers, your foot […]

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5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

Here’s a list of five fun ways to teach kids about money, which will help them with financial literacy—and help parents so the kids aren’t living with us forever: 1. Toys You can start very young teaching basics with toys such like these: Piggy Bank As early as age 2, there are toys like The Learning Journey Numbers and Colors Pig E Bank, which has colored coins the bank counts as you put them in the slot. You can get this toy for around $19. Cash Register Beginning with toddlers (around age 3), you can use a play cash register to let kids play “store” and understand the basics of money. This can help them learn how much money they have, how much they have left when they buy something, and how things add up when you buy multiple things. One popular cash register from Learning Resources costs about $30 on Amazon. Checkbook Made for kids 5 and up, this Learning Resources Pretend & Play Checkbook comes with a calculator, checkbook, deposit slips and guide to help kids learn about managing a bank account and writing checks. Even if checks aren’t often used much anymore, it’s still a fun way to help your kids learn about money and debiting accounts. It costs approximately $12. 2. Online Games These games are available online for you to help your kids learn about money and finance: Cash Puzzler This simple money game on Visa’s Practical Money Skills site is made for ages 3-6 and involves putting together a “puzzle” from mixed up pieces of a bill ($1-$100). Smart Money Commanders Ruby’s Troupe is an organization that uses an interactive theatre with a fun-loving group of puppets to teach kids ages 3-10 (and their parents) about money and finance. The program was created by puppeteer Phyllis Mattson and Debbie Todd, a licensed CPA. It has online modules where children watch puppets, get coloring pages, and have access to games and activities. “We have three purposes when it comes to teaching about managing money,” Todd explains. “First is for them to find out it’s fun. Second is to find out it’s practical. And third is that they can do it and be successful at it.” They also focus lessons on the emotional and psychological aspects of money, because that is where a lot of mistakes can be made. They’ve also done live sessions and Todd says it’s amazing to see the “tall kids” (parents) sit in the back and learn with the kids: “By the end, we’ve provided the parents with the tools to have a non-confrontational, non-threatening conversation with their children.” Ruby’s Troupe also donates 90% of its profits to charity, including nonprofits and foundations that promote financial literacy, which is critically lacking here in the U.S. Only 17 states offer financial literacy courses for high school students and a recent report card by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy gave only five states—Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia—an ‘A’ grade for providing personal finance education. Peter Pig’s Money Counter Made for children from […]

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IRS updates Priority Guidance Plan for new tax law

The Internal Revenue Service has released an updated Priority Guidance Plan to give tax professionals and taxpayers information about the areas of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other matters where it plans to provide more clarity in the near future. This third quarter update to the 2017-2018 plan that the IRS issued late Wednesday reflects 13 additional projects, along with information about guidance the IRS has already published during the period from Oct. 13, 2017 through March 31, 2018. In its initial implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS plans to provide guidance in areas such as the business credit for wages paid to qualifying employees during family and medical leave, along with guidance on reportable policy sales of life insurance contracts. The IRS also plans to release guidance on the new Section 199A, the deduction of qualified business income of pass-through entities, a murky area of the tax reform law where many practitioners have been demanding guidance. The IRS said in the priority plan it would be issuing “computational, definitional, and anti-avoidance guidance” on Section 199A. The IRS also plans to issue guidance on adopting new small business accounting method changes in its initial implementation of the TCJA. It will also be providing guidance on computation of unrelated business taxable income for separate trades or businesses, as well as changes to electing small business trusts, and on computation of estate and gift taxes to reflect changes in the basic exclusion amount. There will also be guidance coming out on certain issues relating to the excise tax on excess remuneration paid by “applicable tax-exempt organizations.” The IRS has already released guidance in several areas, including opportunity zones, dispositions of certain partnership interests, withholding and optional flat rate withholding, according to the document. Another important set of items on the Priority Guidance Plan is President Trump’s executive order withdrawing some earlier Treasury regulations and proposed regulations on matters such as estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes and the definition of a political subdivision. Last month, the IRS asked the public for input on other items that should be added to the Priority Guidance Plan (see IRS looks for recommendations on priority guidance on new tax law). The update to the plan will identify the guidance projects that the Treasury and the IRS intend to work on as priorities from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. Staffers on Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation have also been working on a so-called “Blue Book” that will provide more details on various provisions of the new tax law, along with a set of technical corrections to the tax reform law that they hope to have it in legislative form by the end of the year (see Congressional staff aims to finish technical corrections to tax reform bill). The prospects for passing another tax law anytime soon in Congress are far from certain, although some lawmakers hope to introduce legislation extending the individual tax cuts beyond 2025.

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4 New Ways You Can Avoid Fines For Not Having Health Insurance

There are already more than a dozen reasons people can use to avoid paying the penalty for not having health insurance. Now the federal government has added four more “hardship exemptions” that let people off the hook if they can’t find a marketplace plan that meets not only their coverage needs but also reflects their view if they are opposed to abortion. It’s unclear how significant the impact will be, policy analysts said. That’s because the penalty for not having health insurance will be eliminated starting with tax year 2019, so the new exemptions will mostly apply to penalty payments this year and in the previous two years. “I think the exemptions … may very marginally increase the number of healthy people who don’t buy health insurance on the individual market,” Timothy Jost, emeritus professor of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia who is an expert on health law. Under the new rules, people can apply for a hardship exemption that excuses them from having to have health insurance if they: Live in an area where there are no marketplace plans. Live in an area where there is just one insurer selling marketplace plans. Can’t find an affordable marketplace plan that doesn’t cover abortion. Experience “personal circumstances” that make it difficult for them to buy a marketplace plan, including not being able to find a plan in their area that gives them access to specialty care they need. In California, two of those exemptions will be particularly relevant — the one related to abortion coverage and the one for people in counties where only one insurer sells through the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, Covered California. The first new exemption, for people in areas with no marketplace plan, isn’t relevant for consumers anywhere in the United States this year. Since the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces opened, there have been no “bare” counties. However, in about half of U.S. counties — in which 26 percent of enrollees live — there is only one marketplace insurer this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) This includes California, where Anthem Blue Cross exited six counties and other communities this year, leaving an estimated 60,000 people with only one insurer. The counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Inyo and Mono were left with only one insurance option: Blue Shield of California. As for the abortion exemption, in many places it won’t be an issue either. Women in 31 states didn’t have access to a marketplace plan that covered abortion in 2016, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. By California law, abortion services must be covered in marketplace plans as well as by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, and by most private health plans outside of the marketplace — except employer-funded ones. That means women in the Golden State might have trouble finding insurance that excludes abortions, experts said. New York and Oregon also have similar laws. The ACA established several different types of exemptions from the penalty for not having coverage. Among them are exemptions for […]

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10 Things To Consider If You Missed The Tax Day Deadline

Tax Day was Tuesday, April 17, for most taxpayers, though some folks took advantage of the extra day granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) following computer system issues. Even with the extra day, not every taxpayer who needed to file made it on time. What about you? Maybe your hard drive died,maybe you ate some bad fish, or maybe your dog ate your return. I’m not judging. The question isn’t so much “what happened?” but rather “what happens next?” Here’s what to do next if you didn’t get your return filed on time: Don’t panic. It won’t get you anywhere. Too many times, taxpayers completely freak out over a missed deadline and decide that there’s no point in filing now and decide to fix it later. Don’t be that taxpayer. Later might not come: Fix it now. Double-check whether you needed to file in the first place. We all think we need to file but not everyone needs to. If your income or other circumstances mean that you don’t need to file, you’re in the clear. But be careful: Whether you need to file can change from year to year so don’t assume that you won’t need to file next year if you get a free pass this year. File today. If you didn’t file on time, get your return together as soon as you can. If you are due a refund, there is no penalty for filing a late return after the tax deadline. But if you owe, penalties and interest are calculated based on the passage of time: The more time that goes by, the more you will owe. Use Free File. For those taxpayers who qualify (and the IRS estimates that about 70% of taxpayers do qualify), Free File is available through October 15. Just as it sounds, Free File allows taxpayers to prepare and file returns electronically for free. For more information, check out Free File on the IRS website here. Pay attention to available extensions and relief. The IRS has announced that taxpayers affected by natural disasters, including individuals and businesses affected by Hurricane Maria, have extra time to file this year. For more details or to see if you’re eligible, check the IRS website. Additionally, some taxpayers are automatically entitled to extra time, including those who are out of the country or on active duty in the military. File even if you can’t pay. A lot of taxpayers figure that if they can’t pay, they shouldn’t bother to file. No, no, no: Penalties are assessed both for failure to file and failure to pay if you will owe taxes. The failure-to-file penalty is usually 5% for each month or part of a month that your tax return is late; if your tax return is filed more than 60 days after the due date, the minimum penalty is the lesser of $210 or 100% of the unpaid tax. So don’t make a bad situation worse by failing to pay and failing to file. If the dog really ate your tax return, or if something else happened to prevent you from filing on time, tell the IRS. The IRS does have the ability to […]

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