VantagePoint Newsletter

Getting Your Affairs in Order

August/September 2015

What You Can Do Now to Prepare for Mandatory 2015 Affordable Care Act Information Reporting Deadlines
Barry S. Kleiman, CPA

Rules regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act's information reporting provision for large employers that were optional for the 2014 calendar year will be mandatory for the 2015 calendar year for all applicable large employers and certain other employers. Now is the time for affected employers to begin assembling the necessary information. This article details the reporting requirements and examines what information is required to complete the IRS forms.

Click to download the entire article to the right.

Benefits of a Health Savings Account
Marlon J. Dunbar, CPA/PFS, EA, MSA

Health Savings Accounts provide eligible individuals with opportunities to lower their out-of-pocket health care costs as well as their federal tax bill. This article describes how an HSA works, who is eligible, and how it differs from a Flexible Spending Account.

Click to download the entire article to the right.

Enhance Your Retirement Savings with a One-person 401(k) Plan
Angela Garofalo, CPA, CFP®

If you are a business owner, you should know that a one-person 401(k) plan can provide you with a valuable source of retirement savings. Given the right circumstances, these plans allow you the flexibility of making sizable contributions on behalf of a business owner and offer you a vehicle through which you can continue making contributions to boost your retirement savings in the years to follow.

Click to download the entire article to the right.

June/July 2015

Potential Tax Implications on the Horizon for Same-sex Spouses and Their Employers

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision regarding same-sex marriages on June 26, 2015, ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.  This decision makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states and will affect tax and estate planning for many same-sex married couples and their employers.

This article provides a brief overview of the decision and the potential for significant tax implications.

Financial Accounting Standard Board Delays Implementation of Landmark Revenue Recognition Standard
Karen Kerby, CPA

On July 9, 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) officially deferred implementation of the landmark global revenue recognition accounting standard by one year. On July 22, 2015, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) followed suit on, despite fewer complaints about the new guidance from companies that follow International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

This article provides an overview of the converged guidance and explains why the extension was granted.

Have You Properly Updated Your Beneficiary Designations?
Lori George

In a recent Supreme Court case involving a beneficiary designation, a wife waived her rights to benefits under her husband’s employer-sponsored retirement plans when the two divorced.  Because he never got around to changing his beneficiary designation form with his employer, after his death, the money went to her instead of to his estate, in spite of the divorce decree.

This article discusses the importance of updating your beneficiary designations to avoid this situation.

April/May 2015

Sales and Use Tax Exposure Alert for Businesses Not Registered as Sales Tax Vendors
Alan H. Ackermann, CPA

Many businesses not providing taxable services or products assume that sales tax filings are irrelevant to them and unnecessary. Examples of such businesses include those that do not sell tangible property to end-users and those that do not provide taxable services such as hedge fund/asset management companies.

However, non-filing of sales and use tax returns may create significant tax exposure due to potential noncompliance with the compensating use tax state and local jurisdictions.  This article explains how and what you need to do to remain in compliance.

 

Cost Basis Reporting Change for Stock Options
Barry S. Kleiman, CPA

Starting in 2014, brokerage firms are no longer allowed to increase the cost basis of shares acquired through option exercise to account for the compensation component included in ordinary income. In other words, brokerage firms will only be reporting the exercise price as the cost basis.

This article gives you a historical perspective on this topic and details the reporting change affecting clients who sell stock acquired through the exrecise of stock options.

Preparing for Life-Changing Events
Angela Garofalo, CPA

As you prepare essential paperwork associated with life-changing events, it’s sometimes easy to neglect the obvious.

This article gives you important tips to keep in mind when you change your name and create or update your will.

 

February/March 2015

How the Affordable Care Act Affects Your Tax Return (as seen on News NY1 television)
Barry S. Kleiman, CPA

Whether or not you have health insurance, you will see some changes when you file your taxes this year.

Time Warner Cable News' Tara Lynn Wagner looks at how the Affordable Care Act is affecting returns in this Money Matters report.

How Do Your Investment Actions Impact Your Tax Situation?
Paul Wiley

When it comes to taxes, all investments are different. Everything depends on the character and timing or the investments.

Before you sell appreciated stock, buy interest-bearing bonds, or re-balance your portfolio, you'll want to understand the tax consequences of your investment actions that this article describes.  

Tax-advantaged Considerations Make Now a Great Time to Help Your Adult Children Buy a Home
Lori George

Parents and grandparents who are considering helping their adult children buy a home might also consider the economic and tax aspects that make right now a good time to move ahead with the plan. Some residential real estate markets are "hot" with homes selling for more than asking price. In other markets, the prices are recovering, but are still at lower levels than they were a few years ago.

With mortgage interest rates at historically low levels, now may be a great time to buy a home. There are also some favorable tax factors that will help that are described in this article.

December/January 2015

Year At-a-Glance: 2015 Tax Calendar Due Dates

View this calendar outlining when various tax-related forms, payments, and other actions are due in 2015.

It will help keep you on track so that you don't miss any of the important 2015 tax deadlines.

 

Looking Forward: Cost-of-living Adjustments You Can Expect for 2015
Barry S. Kleiman, CPA

At the end of last year, the IRS issued its cost-of-living adjustments for 2015. While many amounts increased only slightly, others remained at 2014 levels.

Here we provide an overview of important 2015 amounts related to individual income taxes, the Alternative Minimum Tax, education and child-related tax breaks, retirement plans, and gift and estate taxes.

New Accounting Standard Focuses on Disclosures About Business Continuity
Karen H. Kerby, CPA

Detailed in this article is a review of the new guidance regarding U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles which have been updated to eliminate a critical gap in existing standards.

The new guidance, found in Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-15, Presentation of Financial Statements - Going Concern (Subtopic 205-40): Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity's Ability to Continue as a Going Concern, clarifies the disclosures management must make in the organization's financial statement footnotes when management has "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue as a "going concern."

What Can and Can't You Deduct While Traveling for a Charity?
Marlon J. Dunbar, CPA/PFS, EA, MSA

Did you know that, if you're traveling for a charity you're working with, some expenses may be deductible while others may not be?

For example, while it's not possible to deduct the value of services donated to charity, you may very well be able to deduct some of the out-of-pocket travel costs incurred. This article gives you a clearer picture of what's permissible and what isn't when it comes to traveling on behalf of a charity.

October/November

Aspects of New York State's Amended Estate Tax Law May Impact You

New York State tax law has been recently amended where reconciliation of the estate of a loved one ties to New York is concerned.

This article reviews the specifics of the change and highlights the ways in which it may impact you.

Update on the Move Towards Global Accounting Standards

FASB and the IASB have been working on converging U.S. GAAP and IFRS for over a decade. It's been a long process but the convergence effort now appears to have run its course.

This article reviews what's happened with convergence to date and speculates about the future direction of financial reporting in a global marketplace.

Is It Time for You to Trade in Your Life Insurance Policy for a Life Settlement?
Angela Garofalo, CPA

As circumstances change, policyholders sometimes find that they no longer need life insurance policies that were taken out several years before.

This article explains why selling a policy can sometimes net the policyholder a sufficient sum that's in excess of a whole life policy's cash surrender value or a term policy's unearned premium.

2014 Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for Individuals
Marlon J. Dunbar, CPA/PFS, EA, MSA

Are you prepared to take advantage of year-end tax planning opportunities?

 

Untracht Early LLC Senior Manager, Marlon J. Dunbar, discusses some important year-end tax planning strategies for individuals.

August/September

Using the $25 Deduction Limit for Business Gifts to Your Advantage
George J. Yager, CPA

Sometimes doing business entails making gifts to customers, clients, employees, and other business entities and associates.

For several reasons, such gifts often make perfect business sense. Tax rules limit the deduction for business gifts to a less-than-generous $25 per person per year - a limitation that hasn't been raised in decades. But this article offers a review of some major exceptions to the $25 limit that you can take advantage of.

Mid-Year Adjustment for Your Federal Income Tax Withholding Amount
Luke J. Rendine, CPA

With over half the year already gone, now is a good time for taxpayers to check to see if they're on track to have approximately the right amount of Federal income tax withheld from their paychecks for 2014.

Underpaying taxes can result in a penalty, and overpaying is basically making an interest-free loan to the government. This article points to a location on the IRS website that can help taxpayers make this calculation.

Tax-Free Division of IRAs for Divorcing Couples
Lori George

Transfers of property, including cash, between divorcing spouses are generally considered tax-free gifts between the spouses.

This rule doesn't apply to transfers of balances in IRAs, however. If an IRA owner withdraws funds from his or her IRA and gives it to his or her spouse, the withdrawal is taxable to the IRA owner and tax-free to the receiving spouse. Fortunately, there's an important exception to this rule - transferring an individual's interest in an IRA to a spouse or former spouse pursuant to a divorce decree or separate maintenance agreement isn't taxable to either spouse. This article discusses how it works.

401(k) Audits
Dennis Murtha, CPA

Are you prepared for a 401(k) plan audit?

 

In this video, Assurance Manager Dennis Murtha talks about when a 401(k) plan is required to be audited, who’s an eligible participant, and what main areas auditors review when performing audits.

April / May

Choosing the Best Charitable Giving Vehicle for You: DAFs vs. Private Foundations
Barry S. Kleiman, CPA

Those who are charitably inclined and ready to greatly increase their contributions should consider whether a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or a private foundation might be better for their purposes.

A DAF is easier and less costly to set up than a foundation, but a foundation offers more opportunity for control. This article looks at the details of both.

Taxes Take a Bite Out of Bitcoin Currency
Christopher Souza, CPA

In a recently-issued IRS Notice, bitcoins and other virtual currencies are deemed to be treated as property - not currency - for federal tax purposes.  

This article describes how virtual currency functions, how transactions involving these currencies will now be taxed, and how these transactions are reported.

Are You Correctly Classifying Your Section 530 Workers?
Stacy Palmer, CPA

As the IRS continues to focus on worker classification, it has become increasingly important that eligible businesses take precautionary steps to ensure compliance with Section 530 to avoid a costly reclassification.

Section 530 allows the business to treat a worker as an independent contractor for employment tax purposes regardless of the worker's status under the common law control rules. But, as this article explains, certain requirements must be met, and failure to comply can result in significant penalties.

Getting Your Affairs in Order
Angela Garofalo, CPA

In this video, Director Angela Garofalo shares tips for Getting Your Affairs in Order.

 

Find out how to get started and take advantage of the personal information and legal & financial information checklists to make sure you’re covered.

June / July

Changes to IRA Rollover Rules, Less Taxpayer-Friendly
Andrea Nodoro, CPA

A controversial ruling regarding IRA rollovers that contradicted an IRS publication designed to explain the law to taxpayers was made by the U.S. Tax Court, earlier this year.

Shortly thereafter, the IRS announced that it would adopt the court's less taxpayer-friendly interpretation of the rollover rules. Taxpayers with multiple IRAs will have to be considerably more careful when making rollovers to ensure they don't violate the aggregate rules and generate unnecessary tax liability - and possibly interest and penalties. Here a brief overview of the Tax Court case, the IRS response, and some other rules surrounding IRA rollovers that taxpayers should be aware of, are discussed.

Some Strategies to Try When Transferring Assets to Your Heirs
Angela Garofalo, CPA

When it comes to estate planning, how someone owns assets and arranges to transfer them after death can make a big difference to his or her heirs.

While there are many options available, this article looks at three: joint tenancy with the right of survivorship; an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT); and a credit shelter trust.

New Guidance Significantly Changes Revenue Recognition in Financial Statements
Taanya M. Brown, CPA

New joint guidance issued by FASB and the IASB addresses one of the most important measures investors use when assessing a company's performance and prospects - revenue.

The guidance standardizes and simplifies the revenue recognition process for customer contracts across different industries and geographic locations. It also requires more comprehensive footnote disclosures for all types of public and private companies. This article provides an overview, along with a brief look at the potential impact on certain industries.

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