BMSS News

Beyond the Bottom Line May 2015

Beyond the Bottom Line is news you can use - with timely information relevant to your tax or financial planning, news that affects your business and ways to improve operations and BMSS updates.

Penalty Relief for Small Retirement Plans

Small businesses that have failed to timely file certain required retirement plan returns have until Tuesday, June 2, 2015 to take advantage of a special penalty relief program. Normally, the plan administrators and sponsors of these plans who fail to file required annual returns, usually Form 5500-EZ, can face penalties up to $15,000 per return.

By filing returns by June 2, penalties can be avoided.

Read more about this program...

Please contact one of the BMSS Employee Benefit Plan professionals with questions.

Value of Our Membership in BDO Alliance USA

BMSS provides businesses with local relationships, service and rates and as an independent member of BDO Alliance USA since 1998, has the resources, coverage and experience of an international accounting firm.
Check out this video which explains the value of our membership in BDO Alliance USA.

Taxpayers with Foreign Assets and International Tax Liabilities Have June Filing Deadlines

Most People Abroad Need to File
U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during 2014 or serving in the military outside the U.S., have a U.S. tax liability and a filing deadline of Monday, June 15, 2015. 

Special Reporting for Foreign Accounts & Assets
Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. Taxpayers with foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2014 must file a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2015, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website.

Read more about these international and foreign tax requirements...

BMSS Tax Professionals have experience working with taxpayers with foreign assets and international tax issues and are happy to discuss these requirements with you and how they might apply to your specific situation.

BMSS News

WELCOME! Cynthia Griffith joins BMSS as a Bookkeeper.

CONGRATS! Jenny Gray received an ASCPA Leadership Academy award.

BMSS was named a "Best Place to Work" for 2015 by the Birmingham Business Journal. We ranked #4 in the Large 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 10th year in a row we are named a Best Place to Work. This year we were one of only 2 companies who received a Special Achievement Award for this honor. 

Receiving our Special Achievement Award for 10 years of being named a Best Place to Work

 

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

 

Taxpayers with Foreign Assets Have June Filing Deadline

Most People Abroad Need to File

U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2014 or serving in the military outside the U.S., have a U.S. tax liability and a filing deadline of Monday, June 15, 2015. To use this automatic two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

A filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign tax credit, that substantially reduce or eliminate their U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are not automatic and are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

Special Reporting for Foreign Accounts and Assets

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2014 must file with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2015, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. For details regarding the FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

In addition, certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

Some of the financial assets that must be disclosed by individuals include:

  • Financial accounts maintained in a foreign financial institution;
  • Foreign retirement accounts;
  • Foreign life insurance products;
  • Gold and other precious metals held in a foreign financial institution;
  • Foreign deferred compensation arrangements;
  • Foreign partnership and LLC interests, including foreign hedge funds and private equity funds;
  • Direct ownership of stock in a foreign corporation; or
  • Beneficial interests in certain foreign trusts and estates during the tax year.

Any U.S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can use the online IRS International Tax Topic Index to get answers.

BMSS Tax Professionals have experience working with taxpayers with foreign assets and are happy to discuss these requirements with you and how they might apply to your specific situation.
 

Payroll & Benefit Solutions Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Payroll & Benefit Solutions, sister company to BMSS, is celebrating its10 year anniversary! Over the past 10 years, they have grown to service over 840 clients in 40 states with 15 employees.  Thanks to all clients who have been with PBS through the years.  We appreciate the staff who has helped us achieve our growth.  Payroll & Benefit Solutions looks forward to serving you in the future!

Best Place to Work and Special 10-Year Achievement Award

BMSS was named a "Best Place to Work" for 2015 by the Birmingham Business Journal. We ranked #4 in the Large 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 10th year in a row we are named a Best Place to Work. This year we were one of only 2 companies who received a Special Achievement Award for this honor. 

Receiving our Special Achievement Award for 10 years of being named a Best Place to Work

BMSS News May 2015

WELCOME!  Cynthia Griffith joins BMSS as a Bookkeeper.

CONGRATS!  Jenny Gray received an ASPCA Leadership Academy award.

BMSS was named a "Best Place to Work" for 2015 by the Birmingham Business Journal. We ranked #4 in the Large Size Company category.   This is the 10th year in a row we are named a Best Place to Work. We were one of only 2 companies who received a Special Achievement Award for this honor.

 

Value of Our Membership in BDO Alliance USA

BDO Alliance USA - Value to CPA Firms from BDO Alliance USA on Vimeo.

Scam Alert - The IRS Does NOT Contact Taxpayers via Email

Criminals are preying on American taxpayers who are waiting to hear about their tax return refund. There is a phishing scam going on right now which sends you an email and tries to trick you into opening a Microsoft Word attachment. But if you do, all your files will get hijacked and encrypted. If that happens, you only get your files back after paying around $500 ransom.

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.

The IRS will not initiate contact with you to ask for this information by phone or email.

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...

Taxpayers Receiving Identity Verification Letter Should Use IDVerify.irs.gov

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.

Where's My Refund? 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.

Tangible Property Regulations Update - Each Taxpayer on a Case-By-Case Basis

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.

 

Congratulations Patrick Bowman - Top 40 Under 40

Congratulations to Patrick Bowman!  Patrick was named one of the "Top 40 Under 40" by the Birmingham Business Journal.

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.

Patrick joins other BMSS "Top 40 Under 40" past honorees John Shank and Ross Mendheim in this honor.

Read all about the 2015 Top 40 Under 40...

Karen Poist and Bill Lorimer Promoted to Member

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith is proud to announce that Karen Poist, CPA and Bill Lorimer, CPA became Members on January 1, 2015.

Karen Poist, CPAKaren 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, CPABill 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.

New Employees January 2015

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.
 

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

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.

BMSS Professionals Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA) Designation

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.

Jack Knight Retired December 31, 2014

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.”


 

BMSS Habitat for Humanity Service Project

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.

Habitat for Humanity

View progress of the project in the Habitat for Humanity photo gallery.

 

New Services from Payroll & Benefit Solutions

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

Benefit Options

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.

Supplemental Benefits

  • Aflac
    • 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.

Welcome New Employees and BMSS Employee Honors & Recognitions

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.

Keith Barfield, CPA, CITP wrote an article for the ASCPA magazine giving his insights into the Gartner Group's Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2014.

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 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.