Articles

Mandatory Retirement Program for Illinois Employers

On January 16, 2015 we issued an alert about the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act. This Act requires Illinois employers with 25 or more employees, who have been in operation for at least two years, and who do not offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan to participate in the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. The …

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Year-end tax planning for businesses in the new tax environment

The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in late 2017 brought significant changes to the tax landscape. As the first tax season under the law looms on the horizon, new year-end tax planning strategies are emerging. Meanwhile, some of the old tried-and-true strategies have changed and others remain viable. Fresh opportunities The …

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U.S. Supreme Court Calls Quill Rule “Unsound and Incorrect”

On  June 21, 2018, The United States Supreme Court today overturned two and a half decades of sales and use tax jurisprudence in South Dakota v. Wayfair 1, ruling the physical presence standard established in Quill v. North Dakota 2 “unsound and incorrect” and remanding the case to the South Dakota Supreme Court for further …

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How will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affect your estate plan? Copy

Effective January 1, 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces individual and corporate tax rates, eliminates a host of deductions and credits, enhances other breaks and makes numerous additional changes. One thing the TCJA doesn’t do is repeal the federal gift and estate tax. It does, however, temporarily double the combined gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption, creating new estate planning challenges and opportunities.

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New tax law provides more generous depreciation-related tax breaks Copy

If your business is buying new assets in 2018, you’ll be able to benefit in several ways under the new tax reform law, commonly referred to as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), which was signed into law by President Trump on December 22. You even may be able to take advantage of some of the enhancements on your 2017 tax return!

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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Key provisions affecting individual taxpayers Copy

In December, 2017 Congress completed passage of the largest federal tax reform law in more than 30 years. Commonly called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), the new law means substantial changes for individual taxpayers. The following is a brief overview of some of the most significant provisions. Except where noted, these changes are …

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How will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affect your estate plan? Copy

Effective January 1, 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces individual and corporate tax rates, eliminates a host of deductions and credits, enhances other breaks and makes numerous additional changes. One thing the TCJA doesn’t do is repeal the federal gift and estate tax. It does, however, temporarily double the combined gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption, creating new estate planning challenges and opportunities.

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How Does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affect Nonprofits? Copy

Provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, (TCJA), are expected to have significant impacts on charitable giving, among other changes that will affect not-for-profit organizations. The main provisions of the TCJA affecting nonprofits are discussed here.

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The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA)

On December 22, President Trump signed into law H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” a sweeping tax reform law that promises to entirely change the tax landscape. Here is a quick rundown of some of the key changes affecting individual and business taxpayers. Except where noted, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.

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Partnerships: Get ready for new audit rules

For partnerships, including limited liability companies taxed as partnerships, new audit rules are a game changer. The rules apply to returns for partnership tax years that begin after December 31, 2017, including amended returns.

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Are you ready for endowments?

With baby boomers — the largest and wealthiest generation in U.S. history — expected to transfer trillions of dollars worth of assets in the next few decades, this could be the right time to launch an endowment. This article explains the two main types of endowments, describes the pros and cons, and addresses managing assets and spending restrictions. “Quasi” endowments also are discussed.

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Using audit techniques can help shape your nonprofit’s future

Whether or not a nonprofit uses an independent auditor once a year, it can employ moves from an auditor’s playbook to get a better view of the organization’s revenue picture. This article discusses techniques such as pinpointing year-to-year trends and benchmarking to other nonprofits, which can be useful in planning a nonprofit’s short and long-term future.

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Fraud and the nonprofit – How to counter your vulnerabilities

Every organization — whether for-profit or nonprofit — is at risk of falling victim to costly acts of fraud. Nonprofits, though, have some common characteristics that can make them particularly susceptible to such schemes. This article discusses organizational weak spots and advises on ways to combat risks by implementing some simple controls.

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Trump’s FY 2018 budget outlines tax reform proposals

The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 outlines some of his key tax reform principles. At the same time, White House officials said that more tax reform details will be released in coming weeks. These details are expected to describe rate cuts for individuals and businesses, new incentives for child and elder care, elimination of certain deductions and credits, and more. 

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House Passes ACA ‘Repeal and Replace’ Bill; Senate to Begin Deliberations Soon

In a first step toward repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act. The bill will now be sent to the U.S. Senate. Until this legislation is passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Trump, all existing ACA requirements remain in effect, including penalties for noncompliance.

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Filing season ends with no red flags

The IRS processed more than 128 million returns and issued some 97 million refunds without hitting any major roadblocks by the end of the filing season. As in past years, the vast majority of returns were filed electronically. Likewise, most refunds were deposited electronically. Although the filing season has ended for most individuals, millions are on extensions.

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Treasury to review/re-evaluate tax regulations

The Treasury Department is to undertake a review and re-evaluation of tax regulations issued by the IRS since January 1, 2016. President Trump signed an Executive Order 13789 (“Identifying and Reducing Tax Regulatory Burdens”) ordering this action in later April, 2017. Following its review and re-evaluation, the Treasury Department will make recommendations.

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Newsbit: Nonprofit hiring challenges

According to this year’s Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey™ from Nonprofit HR and GuideStar, the ability to pay competitive wages ranks as the top staffing challenge faced by nonprofits for the fifth consecutive year.

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Making sense of FASB’s new accounting standard for nonprofits

The FASB recently released its first update to the financial reporting rules for nonprofits since 1993. The new Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities, will affect the financial statements of most nonprofits when it takes effect. This article explains the standard’s new net asset classes, how liquidity and available resources reporting has changed, and the new requirements for reporting expenses and investment return. How to present operating cash flows is also briefly discussed. A sidebar outlines the FASB’s goals for the new standard.

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Five Reasons Your Organization Needs an Audit Committee

Success for not-for-profits (NFPs), regardless of their type or size, is built on a firm foundation of fiscal accountability and governance. NFPs can access expertise in these areas – and in the process more successfully fulfill their strategic goals – by leveraging the knowledge and experience of audit committees.

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Your nonprofit’s bylaws

Has your organization outgrown its bylaws? Sometimes, as a nonprofit expands and matures, the guiding rules set when it was just a twinkle in its founders’ eyes need to be revisited and brought up to date. Revising your bylaws involves more than just altering the language of rarely visited documents. The process provides you with an opportunity to look closely at how your nonprofit is evolving and whether such developments are consistent with your original mission.

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Tax Scams Proliferate During Filing Season

The filing season is the most active time of the year for tax scams. These scams take every shape and form, ranging from telephone calls to individuals to sophisticated schemes targeting employers and businesses. The goal of all these scams is identity theft.

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Tax Time: A Perfect Opportunity to Review Your Investments

Being smart about your taxes isn’t just about making good decisions when you file. While you have your tax information in hand, it’s an ideal time to take a look at your investments and the types of accounts you have to make sure you’re getting the most tax benefits.

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Congressional Leaders Highlight Tax Reform Proposals

As the new administration and Congress get to work, tax reform is high on the agenda. Although legislative language has not been yet released, statements from tax writers in Congress shed some light on various proposals. Tax reform House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has predicted that tax reform will lower the tax …

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White House, Capitol Hill focus on tax reform in 2017

Following President Trump’s promise to move quickly on tax code changes, the three major indexes booked fresh records. The White House and lawmakers from both parties have discussed tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and more to encourage economic growth. However, the details of their plans have yet to be revealed. Tax reform legislation may be unveiled as early as late February.

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21st Century Cures Act Expands use of HRAs by Small Employers

The 21st Century Cures Act (“Act”), passed in late December, 2016, contains provisions for “Qualified Small Business Health Reimbursement Arrangements” (“HRA”). This new HRA would allow eligible small employers to offer a health reimbursement arrangement funded solely by the employer that would reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses including health insurance premiums.

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21st Century Cures Act Expands use of HRAs by Small Employers

The 21st Century Cures Act (“Act”), passed in late December, 2016, contains provisions for “Qualified Small Business Health Reimbursement Arrangements” (“HRA”). This new HRA would allow eligible small employers to offer a health reimbursement arrangement funded solely by the employer that would reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses including health insurance premiums.

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FLSA Overtime Rules Temporarily Blocked

On November 22 a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) from implementing its new overtime rule scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016. The court’s action stops the overtime rule changes from going into effect nationwide, while the court decides the case. What should employers do now?

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Nonprofit Trends: The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study

The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study reveals how rapidly the nonprofit universe is changing in the face of online fundraising, marketing, and advocacy efforts. Currently in its tenth year, the study’s goal is to look at how nonprofits and their supporters are behaving today to help them prepare for changes in the future.

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New Requirement for Social Welfare Organizations

Recently established social welfare organizations must now notify the IRS that they are operating as tax-exempt organizations under Code Section 501(c)(4) of the tax law. The new
requirement was included as a provision in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015.

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Collaborative activities. Are you reporting them correctly?

More and more nonprofits are joining forces to better serve their client populations and cut costs. But such relationships can come with complicated financial reporting obligations. Your organization’s reporting requirements will depend on the type of relationship you enter.

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Noncash Gifts? Mind Your Gift Acceptance Policy

Nonprofit organizations welcome gifts of cash. But what if a donor wants to give a noncash gift, such as real estate, appreciated stock, or a work of art? Some gifts may not be appropriate for your organization, while others may have hidden costs. Having a formal gift acceptance policy in place provides much-needed structure — …

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New Overtime Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a final rule updating white collar overtime regulations, increasing the exemption thresholds and extending overtime pay protections to over four million workers within the first year. How will the new rules affect not-for-profits?

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Treasury Seeks to Limit Certain Valuation Discounts for Family-Controlled Entities: Proposed 2704 Regulations

Proposed regulations under section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code were released earlier this month in regard to valuation of interests in many family-controlled entities for estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes. The proposed regulations are looking to limit the amount of certain valuation discounts and this could mean increased estate taxes on the death of owners of family businesses and/or entities.

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Treasury Seeks to Limit Certain Valuation Discounts for Family-Controlled Entities: Proposed 2704 Regulations

Proposed regulations under section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code were released earlier this month in regard to valuation of interests in many family-controlled entities for estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes. The proposed regulations are looking to limit the amount of certain valuation discounts and this could mean increased estate taxes on the death of owners of family businesses and/or entities.

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Juggling Wealth Management is No Trick

Preserving and managing wealth requires addressing a number of major issues. These include saving for your children’s education and funding your own retirement. Juggling these competing demands is no trick. Rather, it requires a carefully devised and maintained wealth management plan.

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Election Year Politics Drive 2016 Tax Legislation

Election-year politics continue to drive 2016 tax legislative action as both parties lay down policy agendas for 2017 and beyond. Although there is a lot of talk about tax reform, according to recent surveys of Washington tax experts, it is unlikely anything significant will happen prior to the November election. Regardless, prior to leaving Capitol Hill in mid-July for the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions, lawmakers moved forward on tax legislation for individuals and businesses. Here are the highlights.

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Recent Tax Changes Reflected in New IRS Study

The IRS recently released its Spring 2016 Statistics of Income (SOI) Bulletin containing a treasure-trove of useful information. The bulletin contains data gleaned from more than 148 million individual income tax returns filed for the 2014 tax year (TY). The data for 2014 reveal a corresponding increase in tax liability across all tax brackets. The SOI bulletin presents the most recent figures available for the 2014 tax year from various tax and information returns filed by U.S. taxpayers. In addition, the report compares the data to similar statistics measured in 2013. In general, the latest report shows a continued improvement in the national economy, year over year.

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IRS offers guidance on taxation of phased retirement payments

Phased retirement has become an increasingly popular trend lately. Along with its increased use, however, a number of questions have arisen. The IRS recently has issued guidance for determining the taxable portion of payments made to an employee during phased retirement. The guidance explains whether the payments are “received as an annuity” under Code Sec. 72 and how to determine the taxable portion of payments that are not received as an annuity.

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Election Year Politics Dominate Tax Legislative Action

As Congress’ August recess nears, lawmakers are moving tax legislation for individuals and businesses. Bills targeted to tax reform, small business tax relief, and more have been introduced and are working their way to votes in the House and Senate. Congress is also grappling with the IRS’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2017.

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Attorney General’s Office Reports of Interactive E-mail Scam Targeting Illinois Charities

Attorney General Lisa Madigan warns Illinois charities of elaborate donation scam. Madigan’s office has been notified by several Illinois charities that were suspicious of a potential scam after engaging in lengthy and believable email conversations with a supposed donor. Luckily, the charities did not fall victim to the scam, but passed along information in an effort to warn others.

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Year-End Tax Legislation Renews Extenders, Cuts IRS Funding

Eleventh-hour votes in Congress in December renewed a package of tax extenders for 2014, created new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, cut the IRS’ budget, and more. At the same time, the votes helped to set the stage for the 114th Congress that convenes this month. Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate …

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Highlights of The American Taxpayer Relief Act

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) averted the United States’ descent over the “fiscal cliff” — a combination of higher taxes and forced spending cuts scheduled to go into effect in 2013. The act prevented income tax rate increases for about 98% of taxpayers and made other changes affecting individuals and businesses. Here’s …

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Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act Decision

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, is an all-encompassing statute that applies to more than 1,100 federal laws and regulations administered by various federal departments and agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). The recent decision by the Supreme Court striking down certain sections of DOMA …

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Fiduciary “Carve-Outs”

The DOL provides exemptions to the above broad fiduciary rule through “carve-outs.” For example, a person won’t be considered a fiduciary for providing the following investment advice: Statements or recommendations made to a “large plan investor with financialexpertise” by counterparties involved in an arm’s length transaction or a swap or security-based swap that’s regulated under …

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New Not-for-Profit Tax Developments

The following are some recent tax-related developments of interest to nonprofit organizations. Donee reporting regulations. The IRS has withdrawn proposed regulations regarding the contemporaneous written acknowledgments taxpayers must have on hand to substantiate their charitable contributions of $250 or more. The regulations would have given organizations the option of reporting the information their donors require …

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Tax Extenders Bill Passed by Congress; Provides 2014 Tax Relief

Congress’s long-awaited passage of tax extenders legislation provides a short-term extension through only the end of this year of dozens of familiar tax breaks for businesses and individuals, along with a new savings program for the disabled. On Dec. 16, the Senate passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA), which the House had …

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The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH”

President Obama on December 18th signed The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH” – a package of tax extenders costing $622 billion over the next decade. This tax bill contains some nice presents: permanent extensions of tax benefits for businesses and individuals that have long been temporary.

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Overtime Updates Will Extend Protections to 4.2 Million Workers

The Obama administration has announced that it is making millions more employees eligible for overtime pay. The Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that this new ruling will affect 194,000 workers in Illinois alone. If you are a not-for-profit organization, the new rules are complex.

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Overtime updates will extend protections to 4.2 million workers

The Obama administration has announced that it is making millions more employees eligible for overtime pay. The Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that this new ruling will affect 194,000 workers in Illinois alone. If you are a not-for-profit organization, the new rules are complex.

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Seven Things Every Business Owner Should Do In 2016

If you own or manage your own business, you’re probably busy monitoring operations and dealing with everyday problems. But there are a few things that you should make time to do every year. These are important for your long term business and personal success.

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PATH Act Boosts Tax Benefits for Businesses, Adds Certainty

On December 18, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act). We have experienced numerous, last-minute extender packages in the past, but this one is significant. In 2014 Congress passed a tax bill in December that really only gave two weeks of tax certainty. Extensions …

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Why companies succeed – 3 keys to building a healthy business

Businesses fail for complicated reasons — from dysfunctional management to insufficient capital; too rapid growth to an inability to respond to changing markets. Why businesses succeed, on the other hand, is often easily explained. Regardless of size and sector, most healthy companies share three characteristics: 1) strong revenues, 2) low production costs and 3) low …

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Competing Proposals Fuel Tax Reform Debate

April, 2014. Tax reform, frequently discussed in Washington, got a boost from two recent proposals, one from the chair of the House tax writing committee and another from the White House. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a massive tax reform bill in late February. In early March, …

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All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes

Treasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes; Ruling Provides Certainty, Benefits and Protections Under Federal Tax Law for Same-Sex Married Couples WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize …

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Congress Juggles Tax Issues

Short/Long-Term Issues Tax Debate Nearly half-way into the year, tax legislation has been hotly debated in Congress but lawmakers have failed to move many bills. Only one bill, legislation to make permanent the research tax credit, has been approved by the House; its fate in the Senate still remains uncertain. Other bills, including legislation to …

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Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law

In what has been termed the most consequential decision of the decade, the Supreme Court generally upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). The decision has far-reaching implications, many of which will financially impact businesses and individuals. The main provision at issue was whether it was constitutional for the act to …

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Highlights of The American Taxpayer Relief Act

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) averted the United States’ descent over the “fiscal cliff” — a combination of higher taxes and forced spending cuts scheduled to go into effect in 2013. The act prevented income tax rate increases for about 98% of taxpayers and made other changes affecting individuals and businesses. Here’s …

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Large Employers: Affordable Care Act Tax Overview

Large Employers: Ongoing vigilance necessary to comply with tax-related provisions Employers face a variety of tax-related compliance requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Perhaps the most notable is the shared-responsibility provision, commonly referred to as “play or pay,” which applies to large employers. It had been scheduled to go into effect in 2014, but …

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“Repair” Regulations Require Taxpayer Action in 2014 and Beyond

The IRS’s final “repair” regulations became effective January 1, 2014. The regulations provide a massive revision to the rules on capitalizing and deducting costs incurred with respect to tangible property. The regulations apply to amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve tangible property; every business is affected, especially those with significant fixed assets. Required and …

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Small Employers: Affordable Care Act Tax Overview

Small Employers: Stay on the good side of changing requirements and opportunities Employers face a variety of tax-related compliance requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a small employer, you need not comply with one of the most notable provisions — shared responsibility, commonly referred to as “play or pay” — or fear the …

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Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law

In what has been termed the most consequential decision of the decade, the Supreme Court generally upheld the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). The decision has far-reaching implications, many of which will financially impact businesses and individuals.

Read More »

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH”

President Obama on December 18th signed The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH” – a package of tax extenders costing $622 billion over the next decade. This tax bill contains some nice presents: permanent extensions of tax benefits for businesses and individuals that have long been temporary.

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Don’t Overlook New-for-2016 Enhancements to Certain Tax Incentives

Passage of the “Tax Extenders” undeniably provided one of the major headlines – and tax benefits – to come out of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), signed into law on December 18, 2015. Although these tax extenders (over 50 of them in all) were largely made retroactive to January 1, 2015, valuable enhancements to some of these tax benefits were not made retroactive. Rather, these enhancements were made effective only starting January 1, 2016. As a result, individuals and businesses alike should treat these enhancements as brand-new tax breaks, taking a close look at whether one or several of them may apply. Following are items to consider as 2016 tax planning gets underway now that tax filing-season has ended.

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Nine Employee Benefit Plan Audit Tips

Well it’s that time of year again…time to dust off those participant files and prepare for the employee benefit plan audit season. As a firm who takes pride in our efficiency with employee benefit plan audits, here are some tips that we hope will help ensure your retirement plan audit goes smoothly and meets your goals now and in the future:

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Charitable Tax Incentives Restored

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, signed into law late last year, restored and made permanent several federal income-tax provisions designed to encourage charitable giving.

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Changes to Nonprofit Accounting Standards: An Update

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is working on a proposal that would make substantive changes to not-for-profit financial statement reporting.* The FASB’s objective is to improve net asset classification requirements and the information provided in the financial statements and notes about liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows. This initiative represents the first effort to update the fundamental reporting model for nonprofit entities in more than 20 years.

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Inside the Numbers: Financial Information for the Board

To properly oversee and manage a nonprofit organization, its board members need to receive accurate and timely information about the organization’s finances. But which financial information will be most helpful, and how detailed should it be? There is no single best approach. Much depends on the makeup of the board. In many organizations, not every board member has the necessary financial expertise to decipher complex financial reports. At the same time, informed decision-making and planning require a good understanding of the organization’s financial situation.

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Some Proposals in Obama’s FY 2017 Budget Could Gain Traction in 2016

Enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing and the high-dollar health care excise tax are two proposals in President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget that could become law before the end of his term. Other proposals nclude enhancements to small business tax incentives, expanded opportunities for retirement savings, revisions to the net investment income (NII) tax, and more.

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Tax Related Identity Theft Remains Serious Problem

In recent years, identity theft has mushroomed and during the filing season, tax-related identity theft is especially prevalent. Identity thieves typically file fraudulent returns early in the filing season, before unsuspecting taxpayers file their legitimate returns. Criminals gamble that the IRS will not detect the false return and will issue a fraudulent refund.

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New ACA Forms Debut for 2016 Tax Filing Season

In 2016, many individuals will be receiving new information returns from their employers and/or health insurance providers. The information returns reflect new reporting requirements put in place by the Affordable Care Act.

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IRS Checklist Offers a Convenient Compliance Self-Check Up

As a plan sponsor, you have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that your qualified plan complies with all current employee benefits laws and regulations and operates within the plan’s current provisions. Do you know if your plan is current? If not, it’s time for an annual self-checkup.

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Measuring Performance – Look to Your Mission

A recent study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar found that although many nonprofit organizations devote significant efforts to measuring performance, nonprofit directors say the efforts are falling short.

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Moving Forward: 2016 Not-for-Profit Sector Outlook

While nonprofit organizations have rebounded from the most crippling effects of the 2008 economic crisis, the recenty published State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey* shows many still have significant challenges ahead. For the seventh year in a row, a majority of the more than 5,000 organizations surveyed reported that people — particularly those in low-income communities — are going without needed services because nonprofits can’t meet the demand.

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Expense Reimbursement Arrangements

Does your not-for-profit organization reimburse staff and volunteers for expenses they incur while conducting business or traveling on behalf of the organization? If so, you’ll want to have a clear written policy for paying or reimbursing those expenses.

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IRS Gets Budget Boost to Improve Cyber Security, Curb Identity Theft

Going into the 2016 filing season, the IRS has additional monetary resources to improve customer service and cybersecurity along with curbing identity theft. The fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December, allocates $290 million above FY 2015 funding to the IRS with instructions of where to spend the funds: customer service, tax-related identity theft and refund fraud, and cybersecurity.

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Portfolio Investing: Do You Know Where You Are Right Now Vs. Where You’re Heading?

CEO’s do it; athletes do it; in fact, anyone who needs to be able to achieve a certain level of performance in order to achieve a specific goal constantly assesses where they are in relation to where they want to be. For any long-term investment strategy to have the best opportunity for success, it must be based on a thorough assessment of your needs, priorities, investment preferences and your tolerance for risk and portfolio volatility.

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New Mandatory Retirement Program for Illinois Employers

Governor Quinn recently signed into law the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act. The stated purpose of this Act is to promote greater retirement savings for private-sector employees in a convenient, low-cost, and portable manner. The Act requires employers, with 25 or more Illinois employees, who do not offer a retirement plan to automatically withhold 3% of …

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Avoid a Trip to the DMV

The state of Illinois is no longer sending out the vehicle sticker reminder letters (see the link below for state website). However, you can sign up to receive electronic reminders via e-mail, which may allow you to avoid having to go to the DMV to pick up the stickers. When signing up, you will need …

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401(K) and Retirement Plan Limits for 2016 Tax Year

On October 21, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2016. In general, the pension plan limitations will not change for 2016 because the increase in the cost-of-living index did not meet the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will change because the increase in the index did meet the statutory thresholds.

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7 Things Every Business Owner Should Do in 2016

If you own or manage your own business, you’re probably busy monitoring operations and dealing with everyday problems. But there are a few things that you should make time to do every year. These are important for your long term business and personal success.

Read More »

PATH Act Boosts Tax Benefits for Businesses, Adds Certainty

On December 18, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act). We have experienced numerous, last-minute extender packages in the past, but this one is significant. While tax reform is still on the horizon, the PATH Act is a definite win for taxpayers, providing a solid planning ground from which to start. Below is an overview of some of the major provisions.

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The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH”

President Obama on December 18th signed The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or “PATH” – a package of tax extenders costing $622 billion over the next decade. This tax bill contains some nice presents: permanent extensions of tax benefits for businesses and individuals that have long been temporary.

Read More »

Determination Letter Limbo

Sponsors of individually designed qualified retirement plans will need to adjust to the idea of operating without the IRS’s official blessings when changing the plan document to comply with new laws and regulations. The changes won’t affect plan sponsors who have adopted standardized preapproved plans, as many small plan sponsors do. Earlier this year, the IRS laid out its plans to scale back its plan determination letter program.

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Tibble Case Puts Focus on Fiduciaries’ Ongoing Duties

Earlier in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the ongoing duty of retirement plan fiduciaries to monitor plan investments. Tibble v. Edison International has been percolating through the federal court system since 2007. The case focuses on the timing of lawsuits against plan fiduciaries for breaches of their fiduciary duty.

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Give Employees More Bang for their Buck

According to a Plan Sponsor Council of America survey, only 46% of defined contribution plans automatically enroll participants. The most common default deferral rate for those that do is 3%. Are you telling your employees that they can afford to retire by saving just 3% of their salary each year? Some participants may think so.

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Building a Strong Board

Serving on a nonprofit board entails many responsibilities. Board members are expected to advocate for the organization, make prudent decisions, ensure the organization complies with regulations, and plan for the future. Filling a vacant seat is an important board function. Because there will always be turnover, and there may be some degree of urgency at times, it’s wise to have a recruitment process in place to help you search more effectively and efficiently whenever the time comes.

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Should You Have D&O Liability Insurance?

Nonprofit directors and officers often view their personal liability exposure as much lower than that of their for-profit counterparts. Consequently, many nonprofits carry no or inadequate personal liability insurance for directors and board members. In reality, claims naming nonprofit directors and officers are as widespread as those against for-profit corporations and can cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

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A Look at Corporate Sponsorship

Accepting a corporate sponsorship to help fund one or a series of events or simply to provide ongoing support for your organization’s programs and operations can benefit both the organization and the corporation — if the sponsorship is arranged properly. In addition to the corporate sponsor’s financial support, your organization may receive in-kind services and/or product donations, along with increased media attention that can boost public support for your mission. For the corporation, the sponsorship offers public recognition of the business’ charitable activities, which may help it attract new customers and enhance its reputation.

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Last Minute 2015 Year-End Planning

Although 2015 is quickly coming to a close, there is still time, with careful planning, to execute some last minute tax strategies. In many cases, these strategies can help minimize the tax burden.

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Creating a Digital Estate Plan

As October 19-25 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week, it’s a good time to ensure your estate plan is current and comprehensive. Although it is often overlooked, including a digital estate plan that addresses financial and social digital assets is becoming increasingly important. To get started, compile a list of important files and photos you …

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Year End Notices: Staying on Top of the Requirements

As the turn of the calendar year nears, annual notices should be on the minds of most plan sponsors. For plans using the calendar year, numerous notices are due to be given in the next few months. Here are some highlights of notices that must be sent to either participants, the IRS or the Department of Labor (DOL) in the next three months.

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When Electronic Disclosure Isn’t Enough Under ERISA

ERISA’s disclosure rules require plan administrators to inform participants of circumstances that may cause a loss of benefits. But just what counts as a disclosure? This question was recently litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The case involved the denial of a payout from a group life insurance policy after an employee died without completing a waiver of premium request.

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Be Careful What You Toss

As far as the IRS is concerned, you can’t save too many retirement plan documents. Plan sponsors, on the other hand, might reasonably feel the need to free up file storage space every now and again by purging documents no longer needed. Where do you draw the line?

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Highway Bill Revises Return Due Dates, Makes Other Changes

This article discusses the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. The Act revises some important return due dates, overrules a Supreme Court tax decision, revises the employer shared responsibility requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and includes other tax compliance measures.

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Developments Continue to Impact Mortgage Interest Deduction

The mortgage interest deduction is widely used by the majority of individuals who itemize their deductions. In fact, the size of the average mortgage interest deduction alone persuades many taxpayers to itemize their deductions. It is not without cause, therefore, that two recent developments impacting the mortgage interest deserve being highlighted. These developments involve new …

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Congress Addresses Busy Tax Agenda this Fall

Congress returns to work in September with a full agenda of tax legislation. Lawmakers will search for revenue to pay for a long-term federal highway and transportation bill, debate the fate of popular but temporary tax breaks, and decide on a funding level for the IRS.

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Court Finds That Plan Document Trumps Beneficiary Designation Forms

Plan documents generally control all aspects of a qualified retirement plan. Whether th plan document invalidates the language in other forms, such as a written beneficiary designation form, can lead to disagreement. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had to resolve just such a case.

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DOL Reproposes ERISA Fiduciary investment Advice Regulations

Most everyone in the employee benefits industry agrees: protecting retirement plans and their participants from investment advisors who may focus more on their own financial interests than those of plan participants is a good idea. However, whether the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) reproposed ERISA fiduciary investment advice regulations, if adopted essentially as proposed, will be able to do that isn’t certain

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Highway Bill Revises Return Due Dates, Makes Other Changes

President Obama signed the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 on July 31. The Act revises some important return due dates, overrules a Supreme Court tax decision, revises the employer shared responsibility requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and includes other tax compliance measures. Although the highway and transportation funding portion of the Act is temporary (Congress must come up with another funding bill by late October), the tax compliance measures are permanent.

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401(K) Rollovers

High workforce mobility means that many employees leave a collection of “orphan” 401(k) plan balances in their wake. As a plan fiduciary, why should you care? Helping new employees roll over their accounts from former employers can be beneficial for both parties.

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Chicago Adopts Highest Sales Tax Among Major Cities

When Cook County, Illinois adopted a one percentage point county sales tax increase, its county seat — Chicago — vaulted to the top of a dubious list: major cities with the highest sales tax. Including state, county, city, and public transit sales tax impositions, Chicago’s combined sales tax will return to its former high of …

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Supreme Court’s Same Sex Marriage Decision Affects Taxation

The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015-1 ustc ¶50,357) on June 26, 2015 continues what was set in motion in 2013: the expansion of tax benefits to same-sex married couples. In Obergefell, the Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The Court further held that states must recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

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Supreme Court Upholds ACA Code Sec. 36B Premium Tax Credit Regs

After months of waiting, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision on the fate of the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit on June 25 in King v. Burwell, 2015-1 ustc ¶50,356. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court held that enrollees in both federally-facilitated Marketplaces and state-run Marketplaces can claim the credit, which helps offset the cost of health insurance. The decision leaves in place the current IRS regulations on the credit and the regime for administering and claiming the credit.

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Treasury, IRS Get Moving on ABLE Account Rules

Late in 2014, Congress passed and President Obama signed into the law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The new law, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, authorizes the creation of tax-favored accounts for qualified individuals challenged by disabilities. Congress instructed Treasury and the IRS to quickly issue guidance and the agency did so …

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PBGC Updates Premium Rates and Payment Deadlines

Earlier this year, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced several changes affecting defined-benefit pension sponsors in 2015, including changes to annual premium rates and scheduling. Sponsors of qualified defined-benefit plans subject to ERISA’s plan termination insurance rules must file with and pay to the PBGC annual plan termination insurance premiums.

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Treasury and the IRS issue Able Act guidance

Late in 2014, Congress passed and President Obama signed into the law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The new law, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, authorizes the creation of tax-favored accounts for qualified individuals challenged by disabilities. Congress instructed Treasury and the IRS to quickly issue guidance and the agency did so …

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Get Ready for 2016

It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family …

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2015 Tax Legislation Update

Congress returned to work in April after a two week recess and the House immediately passed a slew of tax-related bills. In rapid succession, House lawmakers voted to repeal the federal estate tax, make permanent the state and local sales tax deduction, and make reforms to the IRS. Tax Bills While tax reform discussions continue …

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Retirement Plan Loans: The Pros and Cons

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than one-fifth (or 21%) of all 401(k) plan participants eligible for loans have loans outstanding at any given time. Looking out for the best interests of your plan participants might involve discouraging them from borrowing against their savings, at least in the absence of a personal financial crisis.

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Demystifying Plan Audits – IRS Releases Updated Guidance

To clarify its plan audit process, the IRS recently updated the guidance it offers to plan sponsors. Even though the guidance is fairly general, it’s helpful for all plan administrators and sponsors to review. Let’s take a look at some common questions regarding plan audits.

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Valuing Volunteers

How valuable are volunteers? The quantifiable answer is $22.55 per hour.* But that number doesn’t account for the intangibles, such as enthusiasm, creativity, and dedication, that volunteers may bring to the table.

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Payroll Tax Dos and Don’ts

Tax-exempt organizations generally don’t have to pay any federal income tax. But an organization that has paid employees must collect payroll taxes and timely remit them to the IRS. As tempting as it may be to use those funds to relieve financial pressures, don’t do it.

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Executive Compensation – A Hot Button Issue

When it comes to executive compensation and benefits, the public expects charities to be transparent and accountable. The idea that organizations that receive public support would provide executives with exorbitant compensation packages does not sit well. Appropriately documenting the process for determining executive compensation is crucial to satisfying public and regulatory concerns regarding excessive compensation. Here are some steps to help minimize risk and avoid the potential problems associated with awarding excessive executive compensation packages:

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2015 Tax Filing Season Challenges

The 2015 filing season is well underway and the IRS, taxpayers and tax professionals are expecting some challenges. In addition to the huge number of returns the IRS must process, the agency also must ensure that individuals are in compliance with new requirements under the Affordable Care Act and prevent the growing problem of refund fraud. The IRS has cautioned that its resources this filing season are stretched thin because of budget cuts.

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Tax Legislation and Reform Cautiously Move Forward in New Congress

The White House and the new Congress continue to look for common ground on tax legislation and tax reform in 2015. Both sides say tax reform is possible in 2015 and behind the usual rhetoric there seems to be a real drive to move tax reform in the 114th Congress. Reform could be similar to the comprehensive package moved nearly 30 years ago in the Tax Reform Act of 1986, or, as many observers predict, will take a new track to reflect a vastly different economy and Tax Code compared to 1986.

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Repair Regulations Relief for Small Businesses

In Rev. Proc. 2015-20, the IRS substantially simplified the requirements for small businesses to adopt the tangible property regulations (the “repair regulations”) for 2014. The relief allows small businesses to change their accounting methods, to comply with the regulations, without having to apply Code Sec. 481 and without having to file Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method.

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A Few Good Reasons to File Your Taxes Now

Tax season is well underway. There are some very good reasons to get your taxes done now versus later. Here are a few to consider: 1. Get Your Money Back If you are due a refund, people who file their taxes early often receive their monies from the government 10 days quicker than those that …

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U.S. Volunteering Trends

In February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published data on volunteering in America.* According to the report, approximately one in four Americans (25.3%) volunteered between September 2013 and September 2014

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Public Disclosure Requirements

Organizations that are tax exempt under IRS Section 501(c)(3) vary significantly in size and mission. But they all have one thing in common. All must comply with federal tax laws, including the requirement to make certain documents available to the public upon request. If someone makes a request and your organization fails to comply, an IRS audit and substantial penalties could result.

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2015 Tax Tips for You and Your Business

1. Claim your full write‐offs. Tax limits, thresholds, and ceilings change from year to year, so don’t assume that deduction limits or tax  rules from prior years apply now. Failing to learn what’s new could result in you shortchanging yourself. For example, there is an increased tax credit for paying at least half the cost of …

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Building a Better Audit Committee

Public companies have been required to have an audit committee for about a decade now (due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and many nonprofits have started their own such committees during that time. The result? Some organizations have learned the hard way that good intentions aren’t enough to ensure an effective audit committee — both the nonprofit and committee members must fully understand the committee’s role and responsibilities.

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Not All Funds Are Created Equal

Nonprofit organizations typically depend on a variety of funding to keep them alive and well. They need funds to pay their bills, pay their staffs and pay for the costs of running their programs. But savvy nonprofits know that not all that’s green has equal value and flexibility. Types of funding vary greatly in how they can — or cannot — be used.

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Tips for Preventing Fraud in Your Organization

If your nonprofit became a victim of fraud, it wouldn’t just hurt your organization’s bottom line — the infraction also could do devastating damage to your reputation. By implementing some simple controls, though, your organization can help protect itself from these risks.

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Keeping an eye on UBI: Understand Unrelated Business Income and How to Avoid Excess Amounts

Like other nonprofits, your organization probably has searched for new sources of revenue during the recession and economic slump. Hopefully, though, you haven’t run into problems accumulating too much unrelated business income (UBI). That kind of income can subject your nonprofit to taxes — and even threaten your tax-exempt status. Here’s what to watch out for going forward on the UBI front.

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Want Happy Donors? Be Careful with Acknowledgement Letters

Many of your donors are now in the process of preparing their 2014 tax returns. You may also have just completed or are still preparing acknowledgement letters thanking them for their 2014 contributions. We know you are aware of the need for such letters. You may not, however, be aware of the dire consequences that may be in store for your donors if the letters aren’t received timely or are not written in accordance with stringent IRS guidelines

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Important Changes to OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

In December 2014, the Obama administration finalized the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, commonly referred to as the Uniform Guidance. The rules are effective for new awards made on or after December 26, 2014. The Uniform Guidance has been described as historic reform that will make long-term changes to the federal government’s financial assistance programs. There are several key policy reforms

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Top Ten Tax Developments for 2014 Impacting 2015

2014 was a notable year for tax developments on a number of fronts. Selecting the “top ten” tax developments for 2014 necessarily requires judgment calls based upon uniqueness, taxpayers affected, and forward-looking impact on 2015 and beyond. The following “top ten” list of 2014 tax developments is based on such prioritization. Nevertheless, other 2014 developments …

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Year-End Tax Legislation Renews Extenders, Cuts IRS Funding and More

  Eleventh-hour votes in Congress in December renewed a package of tax extenders for 2014, created new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, cut the IRS’ budget, and more. At the same time, the votes helped to set the stage for the 114th Congress that convenes this month. Republicans have majorities in the House and …

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