BMSS News

Post Tax Season Holiday Office Closing 4/17 - 4/18

BMSS will be closed on Thursday, April 17th and Friday, April 18th for our employees to celebrate the end of our 22nd tax season.

Thank you to our wonderful team members for their hard work and dedication. Our employees are our greatest asset and our firm's success over the past 22 years is because of their efforts.

Thank you to our clients for your loyalty and continued confidence in us as your accountants and trusted business advisors. We look forward to continuing to work with you. Sincerest thanks for your valued business.

Find helpful information such tools to check your tax return refund status and record retention guidelines.
 

Beyond the Bottom Line April 2014

Important First Quarter Tax Developments

During the first quarter of 2014, there were many important federal tax developments. We have highlightted some of the more significant developments for you and you can follow this link to read the entire article.

Tax Reform
In February, House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp, R-Mich., unveiled a massive tax reform bill to overhaul the Tax Code by reducing the number of individual tax brackets, lowering the corporate tax and eliminating or modifying many popular tax incentives. Camp has acknowledged that prospects for tax reform moving forward this year are slim but has indicated he will continue to work to move his bill.

President Obama has proposed many tax changes in his fiscal year 2015 budget. As he has in past budgets, the President proposed limiting deductions for higher income individuals, repealing many fossil fuel tax preferences and the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method of accounting. In exchange, the President signaled his support for reducing the corporate tax rate. Some of the President’s new proposals include expanding the earned income credit and the child and dependent care credit.

Affordable Care Act
In February, the Obama administration announced transition rules for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate. The administration limited the employer mandate in 2015 to employers with 100 or more full-time employees. Employers with fewer than 100 full-time employees will be subject to the employer mandate starting in 2016. At all times, employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees are exempt from the employer mandate. The IRS followed up with final regulations describing how employers will report health coverage offered to employees.

Individuals who obtain coverage through an ACA Marketplace may be eligible for a tax credit to help offset the cost of health insurance coverage. Generally, married couples must file a joint return to qualify for the credit.

Repair Regulations
Following-up on final "repair" regulations issued in 2013, the IRS issued revised procedures for taxpayers to change their accounting methods. IRS provided automatic consent for certain changes in accounting methods involving amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve tangible property. Since virtually every business operates with at least some tangible assets, virtually all businesses must comply with rules within these new, far-reaching regulations.  Read more about this new tax change...

Retirement Savings
In January, the Tax Court ruled that a taxpayer can make only one nontaxable rollover distribution/contribution within each one-year period regardless of how many IRAs the taxpayer has. The decision surprised many because IRS rules and publications seemed to allow additional rollovers. The IRS announced in March that it would revise its rules and publications to reflect the Tax Court’s decision. This change is significant; please contact our office if you have questions about rollovers of retirement savings.

If you have any questions about these or other federal tax developments that may impact you or your business, please contact our office.

Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act

On March 4, 2014, the Alabama Senate passed the “Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act,” formerly known as the Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights II. Approved by Governor Robert Bentley, the bill takes effect October 1.

For businesses, this Act means a streamlined state tax appeals process similar to those in 32 other states.  “This bill will ensure that businesses and individual taxpayers choosing to appeal tax assessments are given a level playing field and referees who will remain neutral from the beginning of the process to the end,” said Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, who sponsored the bill.  Read more about the Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act...

ALERT: Corporate Records Service

BMSS recently spoke with a client who received a letter from a company called Corporate Records Service.  The letter stated they were being solicited for a service relating to the preparation and filing of annual minutes.  Corporate Records Services asks for information about the company and claims a check for $125 should be mailed for these services to Corporate Records Service at a P.O. Box in Montgomery.

Please be aware that the services being solicited are not required under law.

Providing this information to Corporate Records Service may also allow your information to be passed on to various third parties. While the holding of annual meetings of corporate shareholders and/or directors, and the preparation of minutes for those meetings, are advisable, you may do so without the services of Corporate Records Service.

Contact your BMSS CPA if you have any questions regarding this or other matters.

Where's My Refund?

The IRS and Alabama Department of Revenue have some great tools to check the status of your refund and tax account.  You need to have the refund amount and taxpayer’s social security number (first SSN listed on a joint return) to check your Federal and Alabama refunds.

Federal Refund Status & Tax Account Information:

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.

Record Retention Guidelines

Federal tax laws require taxpayers to maintain books of account or records to support amounts reported on tax returns. The general rule is that such books and records must be kept as long as they may be relevant to a taxpayer’s claim for a tax credit or refund or to an IRS attempt to assess additional tax for the year in question.

The specific rules relating to the length of time such books and records must be kept are quite detailed. However, the following retention periods should be used as general guidelines.

BMSS News

BMSS was again named a "Best Place to Work" for 2014 by the Birmingham Business Journal. We ranked #3 in the Medium Size Company category. The award was based on feedback from confidential employee surveys. Our corporate culture and life/work balance allows BMSS to attract and retain top accounting professionals. Low employee turnover allows us to maintain strong, long-term client relationships. Read the full article at the Birmingham Business Journal.

Holiday Office Closing - BMSS will be closed on Thursday, April 17th and Friday, April 18th for our employees to celebrate the end of our 22nd tax season.

Thank you to our wonderful team members for their hard work and dedication. Our employees are our greatest asset and our firm's success over the past 22 years is because of their efforts. Thank you to our clients for your loyalty and continued confidence in us as your accountants and trusted business advisors. We look forward to continuing to work with you. Sincerest thanks for your valued business.
 

Questions about this newsletter or how BMSS can help you?           Back to top of page           More News & Alerts

ALERT: Corporate Records Service

ALERT: BMSS recently spoke with a client who received a letter from a company called Corporate Records Service.

The letter stated they were being solicited for a service relating to the preparation and filing of annual minutes.  Corporate Records Services asks for information about the company and claims a check for $125 should be mailed for these services to Corporate Records Service at a P.O. Box in Montgomery.

Please be aware that the services being solicited are not required under law.

Providing this information to Corporate Records Service may also allow your information to be passed on to various third parties.

While the holding of annual meetings of corporate shareholders and/or directors, and the preparation of minutes for those meetings, are advisable, you may do so without the services of Corporate Records Service.

Contact your BMSS CPA if you have any questions regarding this or other matters. 

BMSS Named a Best Place to Work

BMSS was named a "Best Place to Work" for 2014 by the Birmingham Business Journal. We ranked #3 in the Medium Size Company category.  

The award was based on feedback from confidential employee surveys. Read the full article at the Birmingham Business Journal.

This is the seventh year in a row we are named a Best Place to Work. In 2010, we ranked #1! Read past award articles from 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Best Places to Work

Income Tax Refund Tracker

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.

BEWARE OF SCAMS: Identity Theft Protection & Phishing Reporting from IRS

BEWARE OF FAKE IRS EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS

Tax scams that use email and phone calls that appear to come from the IRS are common these days. These scams often use the IRS name and logo or fake websites that look real.

Scammers often send an email or call to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. The crooks then use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money. Some call their victims to demand payment on a pre-paid debit card or by wire transfer. But the IRS will not initiate contact with you to ask for this information by phone or email.

A new scam the IRS has noticed:

Fake emails that include the following message: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”

Recipients are directed to click on links that supposedly provide information about the "advocate" assigned to their case or that let them "review reported income." The links lead to web pages that solicit personal information.

If you get this type of ‘phishing’ email:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
  • Contact your BMSS CPA.

If you get an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • If you think you may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you.
  • If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission by using their “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
  • Contact your BMSS CPA.

BMSS sister company, Abacus IT Solutions, can work with you to establish firewalls for your office computers and provide solutions such as network monitoring.  

For more info from the IRS...

Video: The History of BMSS

BMSS employees tell the story of how and why BMSS was founded and what it is like to work here.

 

 

Video lyrics:
(1991...The Pre-BMSS Era)
Been spending most my life
Wishing for a corporate 9 to 5
Come busy season time
Candles burn at both ends every night

Been spending most our years
Wishing we had picked diff-rent careers
It's not the job that brings the tears
It's the work that piles up to our ears

(Motivation for Formation)
Occupation
Oh Frustration
Gotta get out
You can use my Basement
First things first you can ask my wife
Gotta get back to less work more life
Shank says Barfield
Let's get Murphy
Sick of family life being such a worry
Escape the rat race of the hurry scurry
Something's gotta improve
Let's make a move
We'll do audits
And tax Projects
In a basement office
Baby, Let's make the move

(The BMSS WAY)
Alright stop,
Evaluate our mission
Family life with a lot less tension
Business - is picking up nicely
Enough to keep us busy daily and nightly
Will it ever stop yo, I don't know
It's 5 o'clock though, so let's go
To the extreme I run a tape, like a real boss
Family at home, more important than the gain or loss
Work Life Balance

(Taxes Up, Taxes In?)
Taxes Up Taxes In
Once we began
So much tax work
That we felt it's a sin
We needed some backup
other guys don't stack up
They called up Steve Smith
So the whole firm could rack up
He's taking it down
We're king of this town
Come join the best
Cause work abounds

(Ain't Nothin' but the Benefits)
1, 2, 3, and to the 4
Our reputation's more than just the name that's on the door
Ready to make an entrance and step it on up
Cause you know we're bout to change work up
Give me the chance to show you all that our standards aren't double
Working with some balance, now you know that ain't subtle
Ain't nothing but some benefits baby
To keep our CPA firm from going crazy
BMSS is the firm that pays me
Unbeatable with benefits for days, Ha!

(Baby Got Bingo)
I bill my time and I cannot lie
Most of the time it would make me cry
But when I bill for a bingo and 250 worth of singles
I get a big smile on my face
I get paid

(The Real Keith Barfield)
Ya'll act like ya'll ain't never seen a bald person before
jaws drop to the floor
cause you see my name on the door
Rocking a mustache (like you've never seen) before
Lookin like the guy from Austria that started a war
What's going on? oh wait, no wait you gotta be kidding he didn't just say what I think he did, did he?
And what I'm gonna do? Nothin my buddies, i find it funny and I think those staches are money
We just want to be like Keith, but one thing you should know, you can try to imitate but you will never duplicate cuz...
I'm Keith Barfield
Yes I'm the
real Barfield
All you other Keith Barfields are just imitating
So won't the real Keith....

(Concierge)
I'm gonna call our valet, they can get my dry cleanin',
they'll make bouquets, for my other half.....
they're the greatest concierge that's why they get paid,
No more errands left to run, now I got it made
And if it's downtown baby, I need to be dropped off
It's "yes" not "maybe", my cup is overflowin
It gives me the peace of mind, to know that I'm OK
No stress when it is mother's day my gifts on layaway

(Volunteer Days)
Habitat house, let us work it
put the frame up backwards let's reverse it
got 3 volunteering days left
got 3 volunteering days left
Got a soup kitchen, let me work it
Cut the carrots up, season it and stir it
got 2 volunteering days left
got 2 volunteering days left
Animal Shelter, let me work it
Clean the kitty litter, kennels, make it perfect
got 1 volunteering day left
got 1 volunteering day left
Got a bare wall, let me paint it
If it's wood panel, you know i can stain it
Got no volunteering days left
got no volunteering days left

(You can find me in Paris)
Go Vacay and still get paid yea
Cuz after ten years you can have a hay day
For a whole month PTO'n with your baybay
If you go to Florida, tell my gramps I say hey
You'll find me in Paris (par-eee)
With my family
I'm gonna take a month
Sabbatical for me
At the Eifel tower
Takin' a selfie
European holiday -- ten year anniversary

New Employees & Employee News February 2014

BMSS welcomes Laurie Holt in the newly created position of Guest Services Specialist!  Dianne Nance joined BMSS as a Bookkeeper.

John Shank, one of the founders of BMSS, was elected to serve as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) council representative for Alabama.

BMSS Announces Three New Members

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is proud to announce that Scott Stevens and Patrick Bowman became Members on January 1, 2014. 

Scott Stevens, his wife, Shelley, and their son, Owen, enjoy travelling and spending time outdoors. Scott is a member at Haven Field Community Church, where he serves as Treasurer. 

Scott began his career in public accounting in 1997 and joined BMSS in 2000. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Accountancy. He is part of the firm’s Accounting & Auditing quality control team, is actively involved in the firm’s employee recruiting, serves on UAB’s Accounting Advisory Board and participates with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

Scott provides audit and consulting services for clients in the financial services industry, including credit unions, community banks and insurance companies, as well as manufacturers and businesses in the health care industry. Scott has taught training courses on credit union accounting and auditing including topics such as board literacy, NCUA regulations, and mergers and acquisitions. He also regularly meets with management and boards to discuss audit results and opportunities for improvement.

Patrick Bowman and his wife, Bennett, have two sons - Sam and Jack. Patrick lives in Hoover and enjoys fishing and traveling to the beach. His family is a member of Bluff Park United Methodist Church.

Patrick has worked in public accounting since 1999 and joined BMSS in 2001. He holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Accounting from Troy University. Patrick provides audit, review and compilation services as well as internal control reviews to clients primarily in the construction, manufacturing, governmental and not-for-profit industries. He has assisted clients during mergers and acquisitions, debt restructuring, strategic planning and has consulted clients regarding financial and operational issues and regularly presents financial statements and other reports to business owners and boards of directors.

Patrick is responsible for overseeing continuing education efforts for our governmental and not-for-profit auditors and monitoring updates in audit techniques and pronouncements. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits and is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association of Alabama.

Additionally, Henry Denbo joined Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith as a Member.  Henry previously owned his own practice which he founded in 1986. He will provide accounting and auditing services to clients in the construction, manufacturing, distribution and not-for-profit industries. Henry is a licensed CPA in Alabama and California.
 

New BMSS Employees January 2014

BMSS welcomes new employees to our firm!  Henry Denbo joined as a Member.  Alison Swindle, Senior Accountant, Jeff Moore, Staff Accountant and Randy Looney, Facilities & Maintenance Technician are our newest employees, plus Amber Lockwood, Abby Missildine and Auston Sullivan joined BMSS as interns for 2014.

New Electronic Process for Client Engagement Letters

BMSS Clients,

We are implementing new software that will allow you to electronically review, sign and return your annual engagement letter via the Internet using an Electronic Signature (E-Signature) application.

Here is how the process will work (you can also watch a step-by-step video tutorial):

  • In the near future, you will receive an email from Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith with an email address of echosign@echosign.com.
  • Please click the designated link to access your Engagement Letter that will be named <YourEmailAddress>.doc.
  • Simply follow the onscreen instructions to review and E-Sign your Engagement Letter. The green arrows will take you directly to the areas that need your attention.
  • After signing is completed, you will receive another email from donotreply@cpasafesign.com. Click the link in this email to download a final signed copy of your Engagement Letter.
  • If you do not wish to sign your engagement letter using E-sign, you may print the letter, sign it and mail or fax it to our office as you have done in the past.

IMPORTANT:
To ensure you receive all email notifications, please be sure to add the following email addresses to your safe senders list so they are not treated as junk email or spam.

  • echosign@echosign.com
  • donotreply@cpasafesign.com
  • marketing@bmss.com

We hope you will enjoy this new E-Signature process and we look forward to your feedback. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact your BMSS CPA or our office at any time by calling (205) 982-5500.

***Watch a step-by-step video on this new process...

BMSS Named a Best Accounting Firm To Work For in the US

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith was named as one of the “2013 Best Accounting Firms to Work For” in the United States by Accounting Today magazine. 

The “Best Accounting Firms” list was created by Accounting Today and Best Companies Group and 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 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.

Careers at BMSS

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.

Watch a video about what some of our Members have to say about the "Better Environment" we have at BMSS or check out some employee testimonials.

Read about our unique BMSS culture and the cool perks we offer employees beyond the standard benefits.

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES:   BMSS is looking for candidates for a full-time Administrative Assistant.  Abacus IT Solutions, BMSS sister company, is hiring a Level III IT Network Services Technician.

Sound like your kind of place to work? If so, mail your resume to:

Emily Dunlap
Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith
1121 Riverchase Office Road
Birmingham, AL 35244
edunlap@bmss.com

Birmingham Business Journal Best Places to Work     Wall Street Journal Top Small Workplaces 

Wall Street Journal Top Small Workplace

Winning Workplaces Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility

 

New BMSS Employees Sept 2013

WELCOME NEW EMPLOYEES! Jenny Gray has joined BMSS as a supervisor and will provide accounting and auditing services to clients primarily in the not-for-profit and governmental industries. Kyle Bradberry, Jennifer Mayfield and Conner Jones joined as staff accountants. Kyle previously interned at BMSS in the spring of 2013.

BMSS Named to IPA 200 List

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.

 

Payroll & Benefit Solutions Ranks as a Top Payroll Provider in Birmingham

BMSS sister company, Payroll & Benefit Solutions, ranks as the 4th largest payroll service provider in Birmingham area per the Birmingham Business Journal. Payroll & Benefit Solutions provides you with LOCAL customer service, relationships and rates!

BMSS Professionals Present at Industry Conferences

BMSS professionals are recognized as thought leaders and regularly provide insight and information when speaking to trade associations, conferences and civic groups.

Jack Knight, CPA, CVA presented a session entitled “Focus on Fraud” at the League of Southeastern Credit Unions Supervisory Committee Conference in Destin, Florida. Jack informed supervisory committee members at credit unions how and why fraud occurs and practical techniques for fraud prevention and detection. The League of Southeastern Credit Unions is the trade association for almost 300 credit unions in Alabama and Florida. The Credit Union Practice Group at Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith currently provides accounting, auditing and tax solutions to over 40 credit unions throughout the Southeast.

Myra Roberts, CPA, CVA, AEP spoke at the Dallas Private Forum on “Preserving Your Private Practice and Personal Wealth”. Myra provided guidance on asset protection and estate and succession planning to the private practice physicians attending the conference in Dallas, Texas.  At Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith, Myra provides estate planning and estate administration services and business valuation services for succession planning, mergers, acquisitions and estate and gift issues.

Do you need a speaker for your group?  BMSS professionals are prepared to talk with you about various accounting, auditing and tax topics.  Contact marketing@bmss.com for more info.

BMSS Employee Promotions July 2013

BMSS is proud to announce recent employee promotions within our firm.

Promoted to Senior Manager was Cherion Sibley, CPA. Cherion has over eighteen years of accounting experience with a focus in estates and trusts, financial institutions and not-for-profit organizations. Cherion has extensive experience in taxation enabling her to provide comprehensive tax planning and compliance, research and consultation to individuals, not-for-profits and businesses. She serves on the Board of Directors of Childcare Resources and is a member of the Estate Planning Council and the Birmingham Tax Forum.

Promoted to Supervisor was Lauren Byrd, Ashley Caldwell, Marlene Cox and Mark Underhill.

Additionally, Tyler Crawford, Dan Post, AJ VanderWoude and Graham Travers were promoted to Senior Accountant and Caroline Cockrell and John Haggard were promoted to Staff Accountant B.
 

Congrats!

BMSS Named Regional Leader in Accounting Today's 2013 Top Firms List

Accounting Today named Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith a "Regional Leader" in the Gulf Coast (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi) as part of their 2013 Top Firms list.   BMSS also made this list in 2012.

The report ranks accounting firms based on revenue and growth.

Abacus IT Solutions Provides Telephone Systems to Regions Tradition Golf Tournament

For the 6th year in a row, Abacus IT Solutions – BMSS sister company, will provide the telephone systems for the Bruno Event Team to use during the Regions Tradition Golf Tournament.

Abacus IT Solutions provides cable for voice and data connectivity and installs a telephone system enabling the Bruno Event Team to communicate with their corporate headquarters, as well as players, vendors and volunteers onsite during the tournament.

Let Abacus IT Solutions do a review of your business’ current IT infrastructure and telephone system. They can report on your current operating systems and applications, determine possible threats, formulate a hardware replacement timeline, and determine if there are ways you can save money. Abacus IT Solutions can integrate a telephone system using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), paging and intercom systems, call center management, call recording and logging and enterprise messaging solutions.

Contact your BMSS CPA or Abacus IT Solutions at 443-5900.