IRS Identification Verification
The IRS has implemented a program to combat identity theft. Taxpayers may receive a 5071C letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains a real taxpayer's name and/or Social Security number. If you receive a request from the IRS to verify your identity, use the Identity Verification Service website to complete the task. The website will ask a series of questions that only the real taxpayer can answer.
Read more about this identity protection program...
April 8th, 8 - 11 am
You are invited to join Finding Profit, an exclusive summit for business leaders pursuing ideas that create improvement and enable profit. You will be engaged in three strategic sessions featuring leaders in accounting, marketing and investment banking designed to offer you at least one profound insight that you can take to work and begin using...that day.
Watch John Shank discuss why you should attend Finding Profit on April 8th.
Where's My Refund?
The IRS and Alabama Department of Revenue have great tools to check the status of your refund. You will need the refund amount and taxpayer's social security number.
Federal Refund Status & Tax Account Information:
- IRS2Go free smartphone application
- Online Refund Status
- Order a Transcript
Alabama Refund Status & Tax Account Information:
- My AL Refund free smartphone application
- My AL Taxes (MAT)
Career Opportunity: BMSS is hiring a full-time Accounting Assistant/Bookkeeper. QuickBooks and past bookkeeping experience REQUIRED. Restaurant experience preferred. For more info or to submit a resume...
Abacus IT Solutions, sister company to BMSS, was named as one of The Channel Company's 2015 CRN Managed Service Provider (MSP) "Pioneer 250". This list highlights MSPs who provide managed IT services to the small and midsize business market.
BMSS is a finalist in the Birmingham Business Journal's "Best Places to Work"!
Taxpayers who receive requests from the IRS to verify their identities should use the Identity Verification Service website, idverify.irs.gov, for the fastest, easiest way to complete the task.
Taxpayers may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number. Only those taxpayers receiving Letter 5071C should access idverify.irs.gov.
The website will ask a series of questions that only the real taxpayer can answer.
Once the identity is verified, the taxpayers can confirm whether or not they filed the return in question. If they did not file the return, the IRS can take steps at that time to assist them. If they did file the return, it will take approximately six weeks to process it and issue a refund.
Letter 5071C is mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to the address on the return. It asks taxpayers to verify their identities in order for the IRS to complete processing of the returns if the taxpayers did file it or reject the returns if the taxpayers did not file it. The IRS does not request such information via email, nor will the IRS call a taxpayer directly to ask this information without you receiving a letter first. The letter number can be found in the upper corner of the page.
The letter gives taxpayers two options to contact the IRS and confirm whether or not they filed the return. Taxpayers may use the idverify.irs.gov site or call a toll-free number on the letter. Because of the high-volume on the toll-free numbers, the IRS-sponsored website, idverify.irs.gov, is the safest, fastest option for taxpayers with web access.
Taxpayers should have available their prior year tax return and their current year tax return, if they filed one, including supporting documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099 and Schedules A and C.
Taxpayers should always be aware of tax scams, efforts to solicit personally identifiable information and IRS impersonations. However, idverify.irs.gov is a secure, IRS-supported site that allows taxpayers to verify their identities quickly and safely.
If you receive a letter from the IRS, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our Tax professionals.
The IRS and Alabama Department of Revenue have some great new tools to check the status of your refund and tax account. You will need to make sure you have the refund amount and taxpayer’s social security number (first SSN listed on a joint return) to check your Federal and Alabama refunds.
Check Your Federal Refund Status & Tax Account Information:
Check Your Alabama Refund Status & Tax Account Information:
We have provided these links for you to be able to conveniently check your return refunds or transcripts. If, however, you would like our assistance on these or other tax matters, please do not hesitate to call us.
On Feburary 13, 2015, the IRS issued IR-2015-291, which was headlined on the IRS website as "IRS Makes it Easier for Small Businesses to Apply Repair Regulations to 2014 and Future Years."
The announcement provides for a simplified procedure for compliance with the final tangible property regulations ("TPR", aka repair regulations) for "small businesses" with assets totaling less than $10 million or average annual gross receipts totaling $10 million or less for the prior three taxable years.
The details for this development are in Revenue Procedure (RP) 2015-20, and, as is so often the case with matters of federal income tax law, "the devil is in the details."
Form 3115 "Relief"
The most discussed aspect of the RP is that qualifying small businesses may avoid filing Form(s) 3115 related to the TPR. Immediate reaction from many members of the tax professionals community, and the media in general, was that the RP was a significant relief measure for "small businesses."
The immediate reaction of relief by some was notwithstanding the fact that the RP was not released until one month before the filing deadline for calendar year 2014 taxpayers, a time by which most responsible taxpayers with informed tax advisors had already taken steps to comply with the rules.
Earlier attempts by the American Institute of CPAs and other interested parties to gain relief for small businesses had gone unheeded by the IRS; that is, until Friday. The final regulations were issued in the fall of 2014 after several years of prior versions of the regulations being available, and the resulting comments by taxpayers and tax advisors.
As RP 2015-20 was actually released and digested (16 pages), however, those of us in the tax professionals community that had prepared for the compliance procedures in place learned that maybe the "relief" was not all it was cracked up to be. A fairly good read on the recently revised compliance procedures for small business and on the history of these regulations, in general, can be found in Forbes*.
After our preliminary review of RP 2015-20, we have determined that each taxpayer's situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis, and that the filing of Form(s) 3115 may still be advisable or required to implement the new tangible property regulations in the manner intended by the taxpayer and its advisors.
A taxpayer considering taking advantage of the simplified procedure for compliance should consider that taxpayers who utilize the simplified procedure of RP 2015-20:
- will not have audit protection for transactions prior to 2014,
- during the 2014 tax year, will be unable to utilize any prior year or separately stated asset dispositions,
- will be unable to take advantage of the negative 481(a) adjustment (i.e., deduction) that TPR methods filings generally provide for taxpayers with real estate, and
- will not be able to remove fully depreciated assets that never should have been capitalized under the criterion of the TPRs. When those related buildings or assets are sold, the taxpayer will realize income that might include depreciation recapture under 1245 or 1250 that would have been unnecessary if the method filings had been done.
Other limitations that are a consequence of using the simplified method exist in addition to those listed above. Taxpayers should also remember that RP 2015-20 does nothing to change the substantive rules of the new tangible property regulations which are still in force; taxpayers still face the need to understand and apply these rules to their situations for 2014 and future years.
Comments on De minimis Safe Harbor Limits
Another interesting aspect of RP 2015-20 is that it also requests comments, by April 21, 2015, on whether it is appropriate to increase the de minimis safe harbor limit for a taxpayer without an applicable financial statement (AFS) to an amount greater than $500, and, if so, what amount should be used and the justification for considering that amount appropriate. The RP does not state for what years a change in the de minimis safe harbor limit would be effective. We will keep you informed as we learn more.
Note: This is not a complete or comprehensive discussion of Rev. Proc. 2015-20, and cannot be relied upon to avoid liability and penalties.
We realize this is a technical tax topic that may be confusing. Please contact your BMSS CPA or call 205-982-5500 if you have any questions regarding these developments, and how they might apply to your particular tax situation.
* BMSS does not vouch for the accuracy of each and every representation of the author, and warns the language and opinions therein are those of the author and not BMSS. The article, however, points out the limitations of RP 2015-20, and the history of its issuance, in a manner that is fairly easy to read.
The "Top 40 Under 40" awards recognize the outstanding young professionals in Birmingham who have made significant career achievements and have demonstrated social responsibility.
Patrick joined BMSS in 2001 and became a Member in 2014. He provides audit, review and compilation services to clients primarily in the construction, manufacturing, governmental and not-for-profit industries and is responsible for overseeing continuing education efforts for our governmental and not-for-profit auditors and monitoring updates in audit techniques and pronouncements. Patrick serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association of Alabama and was inducted into the Troy University Accounting Hall of Honor in 2014.
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is proud to announce that Karen Poist, CPA and Bill Lorimer, CPA became Members on January 1, 2015.
Karen Poist and her husband, Chad, have 4 children - Allison, Matt, John & Jack. They are members of Prince of Peace Catholic Church. Karen began her career as an Internal Revenue Agent with the Internal Revenue Service in Rochester, New York. She worked in various aspects of tax accounting for firms in New York and Virginia and in private industry with a large government-contracting company in the Washington, D.C. area.
She joined Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith in 1998. Karen heads our State & Local Tax Services Group (SALT). Her experience and areas of specialty include state and local income taxation, individual and corporate taxation, compliance, planning, audit representation and mergers and acquisitions. She works with and represents clients on tax audits with the IRS and state and local governments. Karen has presented SALT seminars for our clients including topics on state and local taxes, sales tax, nexus and apportionment and allocation.
A graduate from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a BS degree in Accounting, she is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants and serves on the Taxation Committee. Karen holds a Certified Public Accountant license in both Alabama and Virginia.
Bill Lorimer and his wife, Marian, have four children - Christopher, Andrew, Bryson and Maegan. Bill is a resident of Hoover and attends Hunter Street Baptist Church.
Bill joined Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith in 2006. He previously working for a local accounting firm for 12 years. His special areas of practice include individual, corporate federal & state income along with not-for-profit taxation and compliance. Bill has experience working with all forms of entities in real estate, construction, manufacturing, retail, not-for-profit, entertainment and service industries. He regularly presents to not-for-profits and businesses on tax compliance.
He graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s in Accountancy and is a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Welcome new employees! Zach Clifton joined BMSS as Staff Accountant B. Tyler Bartlett, Tom Clemente and Dana Marshalls are new Staff Accountants. Emily Espy, Lauren Sampson, Amber Lockwood and Abby Missildine are working as Interns for 2015.
Payroll & Benefit Solutions, sister company to BMSS, welcomes Paige Henderson and James Waid as Payroll Specialists.
At Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith we are always looking to create a better environment for our employees.
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is not like other accounting firms. Here, you can have a growing, fulfilling career - plus a life outside of work. We have created a workplace that encourages a LIFE / WORK balance.
Read about our unique BMSS culture and the cool perks we offer employees beyond the standard benefits. Two of our employees enjoy working at BMSS so much they created a rap video, "The History of BMSS".
CAREER OPPORTUNITY: BMSS is hiring a full-time Bookkeeper/Accounting Assistant. QuickBooks and past bookkeeping experience REQUIRED. Restaurant experience preferred.
Sound like your kind of place to work? If so, mail your resume to:
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith
1121 Riverchase Office Road
Birmingham, AL 35244
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith was named as one of the “2014 Best Accounting Firms to Work For” in the United States by Accounting Today magazine.
The “Best Accounting Firms to Work For” list honors the top 100 best places of employment in the accounting industry in the United States.
BMSS was the only firm in Alabama to make this list.
Company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics were evaluated along with an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.
What does this mean for our clients? BMSS has a high level of employee satisfaction, low turnover and the ability to recruit topnotch professionals. We utilize our low turnover to minimize staff changes. Staff consistency allows us to reduce costs to clients and ensure long-term relationships.
John Shank, Don Murphy, Derrel Curry and Scott Stevens have received their Chartered Global Management Accountant designation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
The Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA) is a global management accounting designation that recognizes the unique role played by professionals around the world who combine accounting and financial expertise with strategic insight to guide better business decisions. It demonstrates management accounting expertise in such areas as leading strategically with management to make more informed decisions, helping organizations manage change, risk and uncertainty, protecting corporate assets and promoting operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Management accountants understand both financial and non-financial data and continually integrate information from across an enterprise to help a business achieve their objectives. Their understanding and experience of business goes well beyond financial accounting - management accountants are business professionals at the heart of decision-making, who “connect the dots” and recognize how the different parts of the business need to come together to create value.
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is both proud and saddened to announce that A. Jackson (Jack) Knight, CPA, CVA will be retiring on December 31, 2014.
Jack joined Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith in 2000 and has over 40 years of public accounting experience. He served as the team leader for the Financial Services Practice Group focused on providing assurance and consulting services to credit unions, community banks and insurance carriers, as well as not-for-profit organizations and churches.
As a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Jack performed business valuation services which are commonly required in conjunction with the purchase or sale of a business, succession planning, estate and gift taxes and initial public offerings. He was a frequent speaker to credit unions and not-for-profit organizations on accounting and fraud prevention topics and was actively involved with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.
Active in the community, Jack serves as Past-President for the Arc of Jefferson County and was named "2011 Volunteer of the Year" from the Arc of Alabama. He also serves as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer and participates in numerous ministries and global mission trips with Dawson Memorial Baptist Church.
Jack and his wife, Sallie, have two sons, David and John, and three grandchildren with a fourth grandchild being welcomed in early 2015.
“Jack will be greatly missed at BMSS,” said Don Murphy, Managing Member. “He developed our firm’s Financial Services Practice Group and fostered the development of younger accountants. Although we will all miss Jack’s friendly nature and smiling face around the office, this is a well-earned opportunity for Jack to devote more time to his family and personal interests.”
For the 9th year in a row, Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is sponsoring and building a Habitat for Humanity home.
Employees from Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith, and sister companies Abacus IT Solutions and Payroll & Benefit Solutions, joined together for 8 weeks to donate over 600 hours to build the new Habitat for Humanity home.
The home is expected to be completed on December 18th, 2014.
Going beyond the role of your outsourced payroll provider, Payroll & Benefit Solutions (sister company to BMSS) now offers expanded benefits and HR services designed to help you save time and money with the ability to scale and customize the options to suit your specific needs.
HR Support Services
Do you spend valuable time researching employment laws? Want access to advanced HR knowledge? Would you like to offer customizable HR benefits?
With different option levels of service, PBS can provide you with HR services including:
- HR Professional as a dedicated point of contact
- Benefit liaison - health insurance options for Health Care Reform
- Online access to HR knowledge management system
- HR audit & review – Employee files, FLSA, handbook, etc.
- Employee onboarding
- Claims/charges assistance
- Secure document storage in the cloud
- Management training
- Develop HR tools
Would you like to offer retirement and insurance benefits to your employees at a low cost? Confused about health care insurance options?
PBS is here to help you navigate your benefit options.
- Short-Term Disability
- Hospital Advantage
- Accident Indemnity
- Cancer Care
- Whole & Term Life
- No cost to employer
- PBS handles all deductions and invoicing
- PBS dedicated customer service/claims line
Small Business 401(k)
- Open Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) - each company has its own policy
- No size limitations
- Lower administrative fees than traditional plans
- More investment options
- Shifted fiduciary responsibility
Contact your BMSS CPA to schedule a free consultation with Payroll & Benefit Solutions or call (205) 271-5400.
BMSS welcomes Brad Brown, CPA as a Senior Accountant and Robby Lilly as Staff Accountant. Hannah Avery returns as a Staff Accountant after previously interning with BMSS.
Abacus IT Solutions, sister company to BMSS, welcomes Randy Clark as Network Services Technician.
Derrel Curry, CPA presented at the 2014 CPAs in Business and Industry Conference sponsored by South Carolina Association of CPAs on the new Financial Reporting Framework for Small and Midsized Entities.
Patrick Bowman, CPA was inducted into the Troy University Accounting Hall of Honor. Patrick holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Accounting from Troy University.
BMSS was designated as an INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) 200 firm. The IPA 200 lists the largest accounting firms in the U.S. This is the second year in a row that BMSS was named to this list.
BMSS is proud to announce recent staff promotions in our firm!
Kim Tarnakow, CPA was promoted to Senior Manager. Kim joined BMSS in 2005 and works in all areas of taxation, but specializes in mergers and acquisitions, research & development (R&D) tax credits and state and local taxes.
Promoted to Supervisor was Kate Fluker and John Schenk. Kate Fluker, CPA began at BMSS as an intern in 2009 and provides tax compliance, planning and advisory services along with business consulting and accounting services. She is actively involved in employee recruitment and training new employees on tax practices, standards and software. John Schenk, CPA, joined BMSS in 2012 after working with an international public accounting firm for 3 years and in a property and casualty insurance internal audit department. He specializes in providing accounting and auditing solutions to credit unions and financial institutions and currently serves as the Secretary for the Birmingham Young CPAs.
Caroline Cockrell and John Haggard were promoted to Senior Accountant and Luke Arnett and Jennifer Mayfield were promoted to Staff Accountant B.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board issued Revenue from Contracts with Customers in late May 2014. The new revenue recognition standard is principles-based, which is a big shift from and eliminates the industry-specific guidance under U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Principles (GAAP) we have today. The revenue standard’s core principle is built on the contract between a vendor and a customer for the provision of goods and services. It attempts to depict the exchange of rights and obligations between the parties in the pattern of revenue recognition based on the consideration to which the vendor is entitled.
To accomplish this objective, the standard requires five basic steps:
(i) identify the contract with the customer,
(ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract,
(iii) determine the transaction price,
(iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and
(v) recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.
Every entity’s daily accounting and the way it executes contracts with customers might be affected. Entities will generally be required to make more estimates and use more judgment than under current guidance, which will be highlighted for users through increased disclosure requirements.
What is the timeframe for implementation? Non-public entities are required to apply the revenue recognition standard for annual reporting periods beginning December 15, 2017, and interim periods within annual periods beginning December 15, 2018. Non-public entities can early adopt for annual reporting periods beginning December 15, 2016.
Although the required implementation date for non-public entities is more than three years away, companies should start to prepare for this change soon to choose the most appropriate transition method.
Three basic transition methods are available:
- Full retrospective
- Retrospective with certain practical expedients
- Cumulative effect approach
Under the third alternative, an entity would apply the new revenue standard only to contracts that are incomplete under legacy U.S. GAAP at the date of initial application (e.g., January 1, 2017) and recognize the cumulative effect of the new standard as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings. That is, prior years would not be restated and additional disclosures would be required to enable users of the financial statements to understand the impact of adopting the new standard in the current year compared to prior years that are presented under legacy U.S. GAAP.
Each transition option has pros and cons. It might be beneficial for your business to move from U.S. GAAP to the new Financial Reporting Framework for Small & Medium-Sized Entities.
In preparation for this change, the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has established multiple industry-based task forces to develop new accounting guides containing helpful tips and illustrative examples for applying the new revenue recognition standard across various industries.
The AICPA Construction Contractors Revenue Recognition Task Force is one of the first groups to discuss the implementation issues and concerns they foresee. Here are their top 12 concerns for contractors so far:
- Disclosures and More Disclosures: Many new and potentially complex disclosures, such as more disaggregation of revenue, remaining performance obligations (i.e., deliverables) and contract balances, will be necessary.
- Accounting for Contract Modifications: Significant judgments in the accounting for change orders and claims will increase over the existing prescriptive accounting guidance.
- Training: The amount of training and time required to embed the new standard in every facet of the business will be significant, especially for project managers and other non-financial personnel who know GAAP as “how the system works.”
- Transition: Companies will face costly transitions, from determining opening balances and dual tracking for retrospective adoption, to system changes and key stakeholder education.
- Contract Value vs. Transaction Price: The new standard introduces the term “Transaction Price” which will need to be reconciled both conceptually and in value to the current and well understood term of “Contract Value.” Consideration will also need to be given to how variable amounts (e.g., award fees, liquidated damages, etc.) are factored into the determination of the transaction price.
- Systems Modifications: Significant system modifications will be needed to capture the additional information required under the new standard, including disclosures, tracking performance obligations and contract balances.
- Redevelopment of specific company policies: Most companies have well established and documented accounting policies under current GAAP; those policies will have to be revisited and changed based on the new guidance.
- Accounts Receivable: Philosophical changes may be required from the current practice of transferring amounts from “unbilled accounts receivable” to “billed accounts receivable” when an invoice is submitted to a client, to transferring amounts from “contract assets” to “accounts receivable” when a right to payment occurs, which may be unrelated to the timing of the invoice.
- Audit Requirements: Enhanced audit requirements will be necessary around the use of estimates in a financial statement audit and to understand and validate changes in internal controls and related processes.
- Key Metrics: Changes will likely be made to key financial performance metrics. Compensation, benefit arrangements, pre-qualification requirements and bonding/surety capacity may be affected.
- Tax Accounting: New differences between book accounting and tax accounting are likely to result from implementation of the new standard, as corresponding changes to the tax laws are not expected.
- Uncertainty: Since this standard affects a wide array of stakeholders, we will have to wait and see how the views of other regulatory bodies impact the application of these principles.
Talk with your BMSS CPA about how these new standards will affect your company.
Wendy Mason joined BMSS as an administrative assistant in our estate and trust area.
Meredith Payne returned to BMSS as a Senior Accountant after serving two years as an accountant for the International Missions Board. Meredith previously worked at BMSS from 2010 – 2012.
Payroll & Benefit Solutions, BMSS sister company, welcomed Jane Barnett as a Business Development Representative and James Randall as a Payroll Specialist.
BMSS is proud to have been recognized as a "Corporate Citizen of the Year" from the Birmingham Business Journal.
Community service nurtures character, one of our core values.
Many opportunities to be involved present themselves to us and it just seems right to give back. Many of the programs and events we've supported help bring camaraderie amongst our people. The spirit of giving back has become second nature at BMSS and for that we are thankful. Our firm believes that giving back and expecting nothing in return is an invaluable reward for us both personally and professionally.
We would like to take this opportunity to bring awareness to some of the organizations we are involved with - either as firm service projects, employee volunteer efforts or employees serving on their boards.
Please take a moment to learn more about these organizations and their needs:
- American Red Cross
- Arc of Jefferson County
- aTeam Ministries
- Better Basics
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Children's Aid Society
- Childcare Resources
- Girls Inc of Central Alabama
- Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity
- Have a Heart Animal Rescue
- Linda Nolen Learning Center
- Shelby Humane Society
- Young CPA Salvation Army Transitional Housing
Steve Smith and his wife, Robin, have three daughters, Jessica, Lauren and Molly, and one granddaughter, Elanna. He enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, boating... read more
“We have been a very satisfied client of BMSS since 2000. We have found the staff to be very knowledgeable and professional in all aspects of their accounting services. More importantly, as we have learned, is their character and integrity that has earned the trust and respect of our senior management.”