Cyndi LeBerthon Appointed Chair of CalCPA Peer Review Committee

Wright Ford Young & Co.’s Audit Partner, Cyndi LeBerthon, has been appointed Chair of the CalCPA Peer Review Committee for the term 2019 through 2021.

This committee of 20 members is responsible for overseeing all peer reviews of CPA firms in California, Arizona and Alaska administered by CalCPA. The peer review committee evaluates the results of the peer reviews, determines the need for follow up remedial or corrective actions, and oversees the performance of AICPA qualified peer reviewers in California, Arizona and Alaska. These measures taken ensure compliance with the AICPA Peer Review Program. Cyndi has served on the peer review committee since 2015 and is honored to be able to give back to the accounting profession through this volunteer, invitation-only role.

Congratulations, Cyndi!

If you’d like to learn more about WFY’s Audit Partner, Cyndi LeBerthon, click here.

WFY Hosts MGI North America West Coast Area Meeting

On January 4th, Wright Ford Young & Co. hosted the MGI North America West Coast Area Meeting at our offices in Irvine, CA.

Joe Tarasco, Regional Director, and Nancy Damato, Director of Marketing, starting the meeting off by talking about key points such as MGI North America new member recruiting initiatives and activities, marketing assessment calls/web meetings with MGI North America members, a guide about foreign companies doing business in United States, and upcoming conferences.

The meeting continued with discussions concentrating on MGI firm collaboration and practice management updates along with topics including business development, technical and niche areas, succession planning, and more.

Our WFY Tax Partner, Andy Bautista, hosted the meeting and said, “It was a great day spent with colleagues and friends, sharing ideas and ‘best practices,’ as well as networking and socializing. The meeting served as a reminder of how proud the respective firms are to be part of the MGI Worldwide network.”

Wright Ford Young & Co. is a member of MGI Worldwide, a Top 20 international accounting network of independent audit, tax and accounting firms, which brings together the expertise of some 6,000 professionals in over 300 locations around the world.  Through MGI Worldwide, our firm benefits from connections with people we get to know and trust in all corners of the globe.

Rental Real Estate Owners-Guidance Related to the 20% Pass-through Deduction

On January 18, 2019, the IRS issued a notice providing “safe harbor” conditions under which rental real estate activities will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the IRC Section 199A deduction.

To qualify for the safe harbor:

  1. Separate Books and records must be maintained for each rental real estate enterprise.
  2. At least 250 hours of rental services must be performed by the taxpayer and/or workers for the taxpayer during the tax year for each rental real estate enterprise. To clarify, a real estate enterprise may be one rental or multiple rentals.  Commercial and residential rentals cannot be combined in the same real estate enterprise.  Qualifying rental services counting toward the 250 hour requirement include advertising, negotiating and executing leases, verifying tenant applications, collecting rent, daily operation, maintenance and repair of the property, management, purchase of materials for repairs and supervision of employees and independent contractors.  The services can be performed by owners, employees, agents and/or independent contractors working for the owners.  We recommend filing 1099s by January of the following year for any services performed by non-owners.
  3. The taxpayer must maintain contemporaneous records including time reports, logs or similar support to document the hours of services performed, a description of the services performed, dates on which the services were performed and who performed the services. This will require tracking everything, your personal time and the time of those you employ.  A log book and a file for all invoices from others should be maintained.

Further clarification in the notice:

Triple Net Leases are not eligible for the safe harbor.

Vacation rentals (residences used by the owners) are not eligible for the safe harbor.

A statement is required to be attached to the taxpayer’s tax return and be signed by the taxpayer declaring that all the safe harbor requirements have been met and must include the following language:  “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined the statement and to the best of my knowledge and belief, the statement contains all the relevant facts relating to the revenue procedure and such facts are true, correct and complete.”

Lastly, an enterprise that fails the safe harbor requirements may still qualify as a trade or business under the regulations for purposes of the 199A deduction.  If you are unsure about your rental real estate enterprise, consult with a WFY tax advisor.

© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

New International Tax Laws Now in Effect Under TCJA

Under the new tax changes for The Tax Cuts and Job Act (TJCA) there were several new provisions that impact US companies performing business internationally.  Below are few selected key provisions.

Under the Foreign Derived Intangible Income, or FDII, a deduction is created for certain foreign income earned by U.S. companies. This only applies to U.S. C-corporations with either a U.S. or foreign parent with an incentive to use U.S. workers.  In result, this creates a preferential rate of 13.125% on qualifying foreign income, or QFI.  QFI includes income derived from sale of property to foreign sources and, also, includes income from services performed for foreign sources by a U.S. company, not through a foreign branch. For example, if the FDII is $1,000, the tax on the FDII is $131.25 rather than $210.

Global intangible low-taxed income, or GILTI, creates a minimum annual tax on controlled foreign corporations operating in low taxing countries. This applies to all U.S. owners of foreign GILTI companies including C-corporations, S-corporation, LLC, and even individuals. If a foreign country’s tax is above 13.125% then in general there’s no GILTI.  However, if a foreign country’s tax rate is below 13.125% then this tax will apply.  Assume a country with 0% tax rate then the U.S. parent will pay 10.5% GILTI tax which will be reported and paid with the US tax return. This discourages U.S. companies from operating in low or no tax countries.

Finally under the new territorial tax system a US C-corporation only can exclude income earned by its foreign subsidiaries which is not subject to Subpart F income or GILTI tax.  For example, assume a U.S. C-Corporation has 100% ownership in a foreign entity and generates $1,000 profit with taxes of $150. The net cash of $850 can be repatriated back to the U.S. tax free as 100% dividend exclusion.  The U.S. C-corporation then distributes the $850 to its individual shareholders who only pay dividend rate tax of 23.8% federal plus state taxes.    This 100% foreign owned company dividend exclusion does not apply to U.S. parent companies who are S-corporation or LLC’s as well as individuals.

To discuss more about your international tax situation, please contact Hani Sharestan at (949) 910-2727.

 

New IRS Partnership Audit Rules Prompt New Look at Operating Agreement

The IRS introduced a new set of partnership auditing rules which take effect in the financial year 2018 and are meant to make it easier for the agency to uncover and collect underpaid taxes from partnership entities.  The previous audit system was challenging for the IRS because it was difficult to pin down who owed the tax under a complex partnership structure.

Small partnerships with less than 100 members can opt out if no partner is a pass-through entity.

The IRS will begin reviewing tax filings in line with the new procedure in 2019, so audits could start as soon as 2020.

When a partnership underpays its taxes, the leftover bill has to be dealt with by a designated individual. If a partnership fails to make that designation, the IRS will select one on its behalf. Designating a representative to deal with the IRS if and when an audit arises could benefit partnerships from having the IRS select one for them.  The IRS promised that it won’t designate its own employees, agents, or contractors.

A partnership without a designated representative may end up relying on outside legal counsel to contact what could be hundreds of partners to determine the needed tax adjustments. Re-evaluating a partnership agreement that has been working all this time is hard to sort out, but it comes down to the potential cost in legal fees in sorting the issue that could possibly come up down the road.

To discuss your situation under the new audit regime, please contact Wright Ford Young & Co. at (949) 910-2727 or info@cpa-wfy.com

© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Making Large Gifts Now Won’t Harm Estates After 2025

On November 20th, the IRS announced individuals taking advantage of the increased gift and estate tax exclusion amounts in effect from 2018 to 2025 will not be adversely impacted after 2025 when the exclusion amount is scheduled to drop to levels before 2018.

The Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations which implement changes made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  As a result, individuals planning to make large gifts between 2018 and 2025 can do so without concern that they will lose the tax benefit of the higher exclusion level once it decreases after 2025.

In general, gift and estate taxes are calculated, using a unified rate schedule, on taxable transfers of money, property and other assets. Any tax due is determined after applying a credit – formerly known as the unified credit – based on an applicable exclusion amount.

The applicable exclusion amount is the sum of the basic exclusion amount (BEA) established in the statute, and other elements (if applicable) described in the proposed regulations. The credit is first used during life to offset gift tax and any remaining credit is available to reduce or eliminate estate tax.

The TCJA temporarily increased the BEA from $5 million to $10 million for tax years 2018 through 2025, with both dollar amounts adjusted for inflation. For 2018, the inflation-adjusted BEA is $11.18 million. In 2026, the BEA will revert to the 2017 level of $5 million as adjusted for inflation.

To address concerns that an estate tax could apply to gifts exempt from gift tax by the increased BEA, the proposed regulations provide a special rule that allows the estate to compute its estate tax credit using the higher of the BEA applicable to gifts made during life or the BEA applicable on the date of death.

To discuss more about your gift and estate tax situation, contact WFY’s Estates and Trusts Partners, Marisa Alvarado and Kevin Wiest, at info@cpa-wfy.com or (949) 910-2727.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Tax Saving Moves to Improve Your Tax Situation

Since 2018 is coming to a close now is the time to take action to proactively reduce your tax liability before the new year.  Included are a few strategies that may help with your tax situation:

  1. Harvest stock losses while substantially preserving one’s investment position. This can be accomplished by selling the shares and buying other shares in the same company or another company in the same industry to replace them, or by selling the original shares, then buying back the same securities at least 31 days later.
  2. Apply a bunching strategy to deductible contributions and/or payments of medical expenses. Beginning in 2018 the standard deduction has been increased and the itemized deduction of state and local taxes limited to $10,000 which will cause many taxpayers to lose the benefit of their itemized deductions. By bunching multiple years of charitable contributions and medical expenses into one year a taxpayer may create a taxable benefit that would not otherwise exist.  For example, a taxpayer who expects to itemize deductions in 2018 and usually contributes a total of $10,000 to charities each year, should consider refunding 2019 and 2020 charitable contributions by contributing a total of $30,000 into a donor advised charitable fund and then distribute the funds to the charities over the following two years.
  3. Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½ should be sure to take their 2018 RMD from their IRAs or 401(k) plans (or other employer-sponsored retired plans). Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. Those who turned age 70-½ in 2018 can delay the first required distribution to 2019, however, this can result in taking a double distribution in 2019 (the required amount for 2018 and 2019).
  4. Use IRAs to make charitable gifts. Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½, own IRAs, and are thinking of making a charitable gift should consider arranging for the gift to be made by way of a qualified charitable contribution, or QCD—a direct transfer from the IRA trustee to the charitable organization. Such a transfer (not to exceed $100,000) will neither be included in gross income nor allowed as a deduction on the taxpayer’s return. A qualified charitable contribution before year end is a particularly good idea for retired taxpayers who don’t need all of their as-yet undistributed RMD for living expenses.
  5. Make year-end gifts. A person can give any other person up to $15,000 for 2018 without incurring any gift tax. The annual exclusion amount increases to $30,000 per donee if the donor’s spouse consents to gift-splitting. Anyone who expects eventually to have estate tax liability and who can afford to make gifts to family members should do so.

These are broad suggestions that will benefit some but not all taxpayers.  To discuss and create a personalized tax strategy be sure to contact a WFY tax specialist at info@cpa-wfy.com or (949) 910-2727.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Landmark SCOTUS Decision on Sales Tax Collection Requirements

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that could have a dramatic impact on American retailers, and not only those who primarily operate on the Internet.  In what has been called the Wayfair sales tax case, the court on June 21, 2 018 said that states can impose sales taxes on businesses even if they do not have a physical presence in the state.

The ruling effectively overturns Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which was a Supreme Court decision handed down in 1992.  In that case, the court said that the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution forbids states from imposing sales tax on companies without a physical presence.  The court said that states could only impose sales tax on a company if it had an actual location in the state, or if it had another bright-line physical presence, such as in-state employees, inventory, or sales representative in the state.

South Dakota, in the Wayfair sales tax case, bypassed interstate commerce restrictions in a law that it enacted back in 2016, called S. B. 106. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision for the court in this case, said that the South Dakota law was constitutional because of the following reasons:

  • The law allows out-of-state companies to be exempt from sales taxes if they only do limited business in the state. That is, if they have less than $100,000 in sales revenue and less than 200 transactions in a calendar year;
  • The law does not try to collect sales tax retroactively; and
  • South Dakota abides by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which reduces compliance and administrative costs associated with collecting sales tax.

Essentially, the court allowed South Dakota to collect sales taxes from Internet retailers because its law did not place a significant burden on interstate commerce.  Currently, 31 states have laws that impose sales taxes based on economic, as opposed to physical presence nexus standards. While it is possible that not all these laws pass the standard set by Wayfair, the court has now given them guidance toward making their laws constitutional.  Furthermore, it can be expected that other states will impose similar laws in the future.

On the federal level, there are two bills currently making their way through congress that will let states impose sales taxes on out-of-state entities.  Both the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) allow states to collect sales taxes if they keep the process of paying the taxes simple.

Because of the court’s decision, it is important for retailers selling into multiple states to understand in which states it has sales tax obligations, which will require it to both register and file taxes in these states.  Fortunately, if your business operates in multiple states, you do not have to figure all this out by yourself.

If you have questions regarding your sales tax filing requirements, please call 949-910-2727 or email info@cpa-wfy.com.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. 

California Competes Tax Credit

The California Competes Tax Credit is an income tax credit for businesses wanting to stay and grow in California. The purpose is to attract and retain employers in California industries with high economic multipliers and that provide their employees good wages and benefits. Any business can apply.

The credit applies to any type of business expecting to increase headcount and/or make a capital investment in California.  Businesses compete for these tax credits by asking for a percentage return on investment.

California plans to grant $230 Million in Cal Competes tax credits to California businesses over three separate application rounds in 2018.  Typically, a business can get up to 20% ROI.

If you think your company may qualify for this tax credit and would like to learn more about how to take advantage of this cost savings opportunity, please contact us today at srobinson@cpa-wfy.com or call 949-910-2727.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. 

IRS To Issue More ACA Penalties

The IRS began issuing Affordable Care Act penalty assessments in its Letter 226J tax notice in November 2017. These notices are being sent to employers who the IRS identified through its recently developed Affordable Care Act Compliance Validation System “ACV” System, as having failed to comply with the ACA’s employer mandate.  So far, the IRS has issued more than 30,000 of these notices containing employer shared responsibility payments (ESRPs) assessments of more than $4.4 billion.

Under the ACA, organizations with 50 or more full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees, are required to offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95% of their full-time workforce (and their dependents) whereby such coverage meets minimum value and is affordable for the employee or be subject to IRS 4980H penalties. These organizations are referred to by the IRS as applicable large employers (ALEs).

According to the latest report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS identified 318,296 organizations that qualified as ALEs for 2015. Of that amount, TIGTA reports that 49,259 are at risk for compliance action by the IRS. Employers who have not yet received a Letter 226J penalty notice for 2015 should not breathe a sigh of relief yet.  There are still more Letter 226J penalty notices to be issued for 2015.

The TIGTA report also indicated that the IRS now has the data to begin the analysis to calculate the potential ESRPs for tax year 2016 to be issued to those ALEs determined not to be in compliance with the ACA.  TIGTA reports that the IRS has spent over $2.8 million to improve the process for identifying, calculating, and processing ALEs who are not in compliance with the ESRP.

As the IRS improves its ACA enforcement process, employers need to assess their potential risk of receiving IRS penalties for not complying with the ACA.  We find many vendors are not providing clients with copies of their filed 1094-C, 1095C, and Receipt IDs provided by the IRS for the 2015-2017 tax years.  Consider undertaking a spot audit of your IRS information filings for 2015, 2016 and 2017. We are providing this service at no cost to your business by working with First Capitol Consulting.

To see how this program can benefit your company, please contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com or 949-910-2727