BMSS News

IRS Raises Tangible Property Expensing Threshold

 A recent IRS announcement stated that it will raise the deductible amount from $500 to $2,500 for purchases of tangible property by taxpayers without applicable financial statements. After receiving more than 150 comments advocating that the limit on deductions for purchases of property should be raised to anywhere between $750 and $100,000, the IRS made this change.

Taxpayers can elect to deduct expenses for the purchase of property that would have to otherwise be capitalized under current tangible property regulations. Taxpayers without applicable financial statements (AFSs) are limited to $500 per invoice or item, while taxpayers with AFSs have a limit of $5,000. (The IRS justifies this as admissible because those with AFSs are more likely to follow GAAP rules.)  Many professionals objected to the de minimis amount of $500 after the regulations were issued, stating, among other things, that a computer or smartphone purchase usually exceeds the $500 mark.

 

This new de minimis amount applies only to costs for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2016. With these updated regulations, businesses can still claim otherwise deductible repair and maintenance costs despite whether or not they exceed the $2,500 threshold. The IRS will not raise the issue of a higher amount during an audit for earlier tax years and will not pursue the issue for any tax year beginning after December 31, 2011, and ending before January 1, 2016. Furthermore, the IRS will not push the issue for any case pending in IRS examination, Appeals, or the Tax Court.

2015 Year-End Tax Planning Letter

 As 2015 draws to a closeyou may be giving consideration to possible year-end tax planning strategies. Taxpayers and their advisers engaged in year-end tax planning are challenged by the uncertainty of possible year-end tax legislation.

In previous years, a number of expiring provisions were extended for one or two years. However, this year, Congress has yet to act on a host of important provisions that expired at the end of 2014. Some, or all, of these expired provisions may be retroactively reinstated, thereby opening up some truly last-minute, year-end tax planning opportunities, but there’s no way of knowing if or when that will take place. Thus, constant monitoring to your year-end planning may be necessary until this situation stabilizes.

We have compiled a letter highlighting some of the year-end planning opportunities and challenges for individuals and businesses regarding federal taxes.  Our accountants understand that year-end tax planning is a complex and, at times, overwhelming task but which is also a necessity.

BMSS can help you navigate through the uncertainties of possible legislation and plan a year-end tax strategy that incorporates traditional and newer strategies to possibly help minimize your federal tax liability. Please call your BMSS trusted advisor for assistance with your year-end tax planning.

Read BMSS' 2015 Year-End Tax Planning Letter

Sincerely,

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith, LLC

Personal Use of Company Auto - 2015

According to IRS regulations, the personal usage of company cars by employees must be treated as taxable compensation income (and is subject to normal payroll taxes). In valuing this compensation, the general rule is the employee's income is equal to what it would cost in a regular transaction to lease a comparable vehicle for the time used for personal purposes.

If you would like for us to prepare this calculation for the dates January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, please sign this letter and fill out the attached form for each employee who had personal use of an automobile owned by the business.

Fax the completed forms to the attention of Auston Sullivan at (205) 271-5466 or e-mail it as soon as possible to asullivan@bmss.com.  In order for the calculations to be timely completed, all information must be returned no later than Thursday, December 10, 2015.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at (205) 271-5466.


 

BMSS's Von Hagel named 2015 Top 10 Public Accounting Professional Rising Star!

 The National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals (NAPAP) has selected Stephen Von Hagel, CPA, of Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith, LLC in Birmingham as one of the 2015 "Top 10 Public Accounting Professional Rising Stars" in Alabama. The award is designed to recognize outstanding public accounting professionals who have been practicing for less than fifteen years.

"We are very pleased to recognize Mr. Von Hagel, whose expertise, leadership and impressive achievements in the field of public accounting while practicing for less than fifteen years have earned him this significant honor," says Paul Witte, Executive Director of NAPAP.

A primary charter of the National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals is to recognize and distinguish the top public accounting professionals in each state. The accountants who make the NAPAP "TOP 10 Rising Stars" list demonstrate an extensive amount of knowledge, skill, experience and success in the field of accounting, while practicing for less than 15 years. To achieve this award, the accountants must first be nominated by industry peers or satisfied clients. The nominees are reviewed by the NAPAP research committee, which evaluates each nominee's credentials against the award criteria, and compiles a list of finalists from which the NAPAP Board of Governors selects the Top 10 Rising Stars. Selection criteria include education, years of experience, areas of expertise, certifications, publications, awards, leadership, and client satisfaction.

Von Hagel has over 10 years of experience in public accounting, and has attained the position of Senior Manager with Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith. He specializes in financial statement audits, single audits, reviews, and compilation services for clients in the healthcare, construction, manufacturing, distribution, non-profit, governmental, transportation and technology industries.

Von Hagel graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.S. degree in Commerce and Business Administration and a Master's of Accountancy. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Global Management Accountant (CGMA). He is also a graduate of the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants Leadership Program.

Von Hagel is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Alabama Utility Contractors Association.

In the community, Von Hagel serves on his church's Finance Council. Nominations for the 2016 NAPAP "Top 10 Public Accounting Professionals" and "Top 10 Public Accounting Professional Rising Stars" awards will be accepted beginning January 1, 2016. For details, visit www.napapweb.org.

The Alabama Unclaimed Property Report Due November 1, 2015

If your company or organization holds unclaimed property with situs in Alabama, you must file an annual report with the State of Alabama Treasurer's Office. This report covers property that is deemed to be unclaimed as of June 30, 2015. 
 

Alabama does not require negative reporting; that is, if you hold no unclaimed property as of June 30, 2015, a report is not required. You may also have unclaimed property filing requirements with other states. Filing requirements and due dates vary by state.
 

How Do You Know If You Have Unclaimed Property?
 

The links below will help you to determine if your business has reportable unclaimed property:

How Do You File Your Unclaimed Property Reports?

 

If you have reportable unclaimed property, the second link, "Reporting Forms and Instructions," will assist you in filing and remitting monies electronically.
 

What If I Want BMSS to Prepare My Unclaimed Property Reports?
 

If you have reportable unclaimed property and you would like us to prepare the annual report for you, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our State & Local Tax Services professionals at (205) 982-5500.
 

If you request that we prepare your unclaimed property report(s), our fees will be based on the standard hourly rates for the actual time incurred. If engaged, we will email you a schedule for completion and the unclaimed property reports will be prepared based on the information provided to us by you.
 

If you have any questions, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our State & Local Tax Services professionals at (205) 982-5500.

Accounting Today Names Best Firms to Work For

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith (BMSS) is pleased to announce their award for one of the Best Accounting Firms to Work for by Accounting Today. This is the seventh time the firm has been named to this prestigious list.

“This is an exciting time for our firm and we are proud to provide an exceptional experience for our employees,” said Keith Barfield, CPA, CITP and Founding Member of BMSS. “We pride ourselves on gaining and retaining the top talent in the Birmingham area and providing a stimulating environment to keep them motivated.”

Firms were required to meet the below criteria in order to be considered for this annual list:

  • Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business
  • Be a publicly or privately held business
  • Have a facility in the United States
  • Have a minimum of 15 employees in the United States
  • Must be in business a minimum of one year
  • Must be an accounting firm

Accounting Today invited firms from across the country to participate in this two-part survey. The first part consists of evaluating each nominated firm’s workplace policies, practices, systems, philosophy and demographics. The second part consists of an employee survey to measure their overall experience.

For more information on the Best Accounting Firms to Work For program, visit: www.bestaccountingfirmstoworkfor.com.

Are You ACA Compliant?

 For more information, please visit our sister company, Payroll & Beneifts at www.pbspay.com or call your BMSS contact at (205) 982-5500.

 

Beyond the Bottom Line July 2015

HR & Employment Law Updates - Overtime and Employee Classification

On June 30, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that would extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million white collar workers within the first year of its implementation. The rule would raise the salary threshold from $23,660 to $50,440 for workers to automatically qualify for time-and-a-half overtime wages.

The new rule would apply to all private employers that are subject to federal wage and hour laws. A public comment period began July 6, 2015, with the final version of the rule likely not going into effect until sometime in 2016.

Read more about the overtime changes from the DOL...

On July 15, 2015, the DOL's Wage and Hour Division issued guidance to Fair Labor Standards Act's definition of "employ" in regards to the determination of whether workers are employees or independent contractors under the law.  In order to make the determination whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the FLSA, courts use the multi-factorial “economic realities” test, which focuses on whether the worker is economically dependent on the employer or in business for him or herself. A worker who is economically dependent on an employer is suffered or permitted to work by the employer. Thus, applying the economic realities test in view of the expansive definition of “employ” under the Act, most workers are employees under the FLSA.

Read more employee classification from the DOL...

Alabama Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. (CST) on Friday August 7, 2015, and ending at 12:00 midnight on Sunday August 9, 2015, Alabama will hold its 10th annual sales tax holiday. 

If you have any questions, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our State & Local Tax Services professionals or call (205) 982-5500.

Coming This Fall

As we get closer to fall, it is time to start thinking about a few non-income related taxes: Unclaimed Property, Ad Valorem and Business Licenses.

Unclaimed Property

  • Alabama’s unclaimed property reports are due on November 1st of each year. (Note: Due dates vary by state.)
  • Alabama’s unclaimed property reporting period is July 1st – June 30th. (Note: Reporting periods vary by state.)
  • Examples of unclaimed property: Credit balances or memos, customer deposits, uncashed payroll checks, vendor checks, etc.
  • Please contact your BMSS professional if you have questions regarding unclaimed property or if assistance is needed in reporting unclaimed property.

Ad Valorem Reporting – Tangible Property Tax Filing

  • Alabama’s Ad Valorem returns are due December 31st of each year. (Note: Due dates vary by state.)
  • Alabama’s Ad Valorem reporting period is October 1st – September 30th. (Note: Due dates vary by state.)
  • Now is the time to get your asset listing up to date! Be sure to include new asset purchases, any asset dispositions, leased property and be sure to identify the location of the property.
  • BMSS will be contacting clients soon with information regarding preparation and filing of the ad valorem returns.

Business Licenses

  • Business license requirements vary by jurisdiction and state. Determine if the jurisdictions (city and county) in which you are conducting business requires a business license.
  • Be sure to check the due date for each jurisdiction in which you are renewing or filing a business license. Many of the local Alabama municipal business licenses have a delinquency date of January 31st or February 15th. Jefferson County business licenses are due October 31st.
  • The business license fee is calculated on a particular tax base, depending on your business. It could be based on gross receipts, employee headcount, or just be a flat fee. Be sure to use the correct formula for calculating the business license fee.
  • Please contact your BMSS CPA for assistance If you have questions regarding business licenses.

If you have any questions, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our State & Local Tax Services professionals or call (205) 982-5500.

BMSS Staff Promotions

Stephen Von Hagel, CPA, CGMA was promoted to Senior Manager. Stephen graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration and Masters of Accountancy.  He has over 10 years of experience in public accounting and specializes in financial statement audits, single audits, reviews and compilation services for clients in the healthcare, construction, manufacturing, distribution, non-profit, governmental, transportation and technology industries. Stephen also has the designation of Certified Global Management Accountant, is a member of the Alabama Utility Contractors Association, is a graduate of the ASCPA Leadership Program and serves on his church finance council.

Nick D’Alessandro, CPA was promoted to Manager. Nick has 10 years of experience in public accounting, most of which has been concentrated in individual, not-for-profit and business taxation with construction and manufacturing clients. Nick contributes to technical topics for tax compliance articles and is part of the compilation and review team at BMSS. He serves as President of the Knights of Columbus #635, on the Advisory Council for Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic School and previously served as Treasurer for the Birmingham Boys Choir Foundation. Nick is a graduate of the ASPCA Leadership Academy.

Promoted to Supervisor was Brad Brown, Tyler Crawford, Dan Post and AJ VanderWoude.

Luke Arnett, Zach Clifton and Jennifer Mayfield were promoted to Senior Accountant and Hannah Avery, Dana Marshall, Robby Lilly and Tyler Bartlett were promoted to Staff Accountant B.

Auston Sullivan was named Staff Accountant. Auston previously worked as a runner and intern at BMSS.

Credit Union Roundtable - August 13th

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith invites you to attend our annual "Credit Union Roundtable" - an interactive seminar open to all credit union employees, management, board and committee members.

Thursday, August 13
10 am – 2 pm
Lunch will be served.

Join Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith for this fun and informative day of discussing ways to better your credit union’s operations and compliance.

Included topics:

  • Financial Accounting & Regulatory Updates
    • Current and proposed changes and how to deal with or stay ahead of them
  • Tax Updates
    • What you need to know to stay in compliance
  • Human Resources & Health Care Reform
    • Staying ahead of the confusing alphabet of HR regulations - EEOC, FMLA, DOL, IRS etc. 
    • Affordable Care Act (ACA) - health care reform updates
  • Employee Benefit Plans
    • Understanding your fiduciary responsibilities
  • Service Organization Controls (SOC) Reports
    • An integral part of any vendor due diligence or internal control risk assessment

This is YOUR roundtable.  BMSS wants to know what topics you would like to discuss.   We will have an open forum to share ideas.  Please let us know items you would like discussed when you register.

FREE to attend!
CPE credit available from AICPA.

Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith
1121 Riverchase Office Road
Birmingham, AL 35244

Space is limited. Registration is required - Register here now.

Questions? (205) 982-5565

Read more about how the BMSS Credit Union Practice Group can help you.

Back to School Sales Tax Holiday Aug. 7-9

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. (CST) on Friday August 7, 2015, and ending at 12:00 midnight on Sunday August 9, 2015, Alabama will hold its 10th annual sales tax holiday. 

Shoppers have the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers, and clothing (see reference sheet of exempt items) free of state sales or use tax.

Retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the Sales Tax Holiday.

Local sales and use tax may apply – see list of participating cities and counties.

If you have any questions, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our State & Local Tax Services professionals or call (205) 982-5500.

 

BMSS Staff Promotions July 2015

BMSS is proud to announce recent staff promotions in our firm!

Stephen Von Hagel, CPA, CGMA was promoted to Senior Manager. Stephen graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration and Masters of Accountancy.  He has over 10 years of experience in public accounting and specializes in financial statement audits, single audits, reviews and compilation services for clients in the healthcare, construction, manufacturing, distribution, non-profit, governmental, transportation and technology industries. Stephen also has the designation of Certified Global Management Accountant, is a member of the Alabama Utility Contractors Association, is a graduate of the ASCPA Leadership Program and serves on his church finance council.

Nick D’Alessandro, CPA was promoted to Manager. Nick has 10 years of experience in public accounting, most of which has been concentrated in individual, not-for-profit and business taxation with construction and manufacturing clients. Nick contributes to technical topics for tax compliance articles and is part of the compilation and review team at BMSS. He serves as President of the Knights of Columbus #635, on the Advisory Council for Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic School and previously served as Treasurer for the Birmingham Boys Choir Foundation. Nick is a graduate of the ASPCA Leadership Academy.

Promoted to Supervisor was Brad Brown, Tyler Crawford, Dan Post and AJ VanderWoude.

Luke Arnett, Zach Clifton and Jennifer Mayfield were promoted to Senior Accountant and Hannah Avery, Dana Marshall, Robby Lilly and Tyler Bartlett were promoted to Staff Accountant B.

Auston Sullivan was named Staff Accountant. Auston previously worked as a runner and intern at BMSS.

 

BMSS Welcomes Dr. Sacha Walicord

Dr. Sacha Walicord has joined BMSS as an International Business Consultant. He is a member of the Alabama Germany Partnership and also serves as the pastor of Covenant Heritage Presbyterian Church.

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.

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.

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.