BMSS News

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.

Beyond the Bottom Line June 2015

Difference Between Audit, Compilation and Review

One question we receive often is, "What is the difference between a financial statement audit, compilation and review?"

The difference is the level of service, which is determined by your needs and what your creditors and/or investors require. The higher the level of service required, the more time a CPA needs to complete the engagement and, therefore, the more costly the engagement.

While companies often opt for compiled or reviewed statements, credit agreements with lenders often require audited statements.

Learn more about the differences in these services and which is best for your specific situation, and download the Guide to Financial Statement Services here...

Hackers Access IRS Application

The IRS announced that criminals gained unauthorized access to Social Security numbers, dates of birth and street addresses on approximately 100,000 taxpayer accounts through their "Get Transcript" application.

Thieves gained sufficient information from an outside source before accessing the IRS site, which allowed them to clear a multi-step authentication process, including several personal verification questions that typically are only known by the taxpayer.

Read about the steps the IRS has taken and what affected taxpayers can do. If you receive this or any letter from the IRS, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our Tax professionals.

Taxpayers with Foreign Assets Have June Filing Deadlines

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or otherauthority 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.

The FBAR requirement is separate from the requirement to report specified foreign financial assets on a U.S. income tax return.

Read more about the requirements for reporting foreign bank and foreign accounts...

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.

Alabama Accountability Act Updates

Legislation has been enacted that amends the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 concerning the tax credit available for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs) available against corporate and personal income tax liabilities.

Amendments include:

  1. Allowing shareholders, partners and members of pass-through entities, including S corporations, to claim the credit;
  2. Clarifying that donors making contributions to SGOs cannot earmark their contribution for a particular school or fund scholarships for a particular student or group of students;
  3. Increasing the annual limitation on contributions to SGOs made by individuals from $7,500 to $50,000; and
  4. Increasing the cumulative amount of tax credits available in a calendar year from $25 million to $30 million effective June 9, 2015.

Read more about the Alabama Accountability Act...
 

 

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

Thieves Accessed Taxpayer Accounts at IRS

The IRS announced that criminals gained unauthorized access to information (Social Security numbers, dates of birth and street addresses) on approximately 100,000 taxpayer accounts through their "Get Transcript" application.

Thieves gained sufficient information from an outside source before accessing the IRS site, which allowed them to clear a multi-step authentication process, including several personal verification questions that typically are only known by the taxpayer.

The matter is under review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration as well as IRS's Criminal Investigation unit.

The IRS has taken a number of immediate steps to protect taxpayers, including:

  • Disabling the Get Transcript application
  • Sending a letter to all of the approximately 200,000 taxpayers whose accounts had attempted unauthorized accesses, notifying them that third parties appear to have had access to taxpayer Social Security numbers and additional personal financial information from a non-IRS source before attempting to access the IRS transcript application.
    • Although half of this group did not actually have their transcript account accessed because the third parties failed the authentication tests, IRS is still taking an additional protective step to alert taxpayers.
  • Offering free credit monitoring for the approximately 100,000 taxpayers whose Get Transcript accounts were accessed to ensure this information isn't being used through other financial avenues.
    • Taxpayers will receive specific instructions so they can sign up for the credit monitoring. IRS noted that these outreach letters will not request any personal identification information from taxpayers.
    • In addition, IRS is marking the underlying taxpayer accounts on its core processing system to flag for potential identity theft to protect taxpayers going forward—both right now and in 2016.

IRS notes that this incident does not involve other IRS systems, such as core taxpayer accounts, or other applications, such as Where's My Refund.

The IRS also announced new efforts to combat identity theft fraud.

If you receive this or any letter from the IRS, please contact your BMSS CPA or one of our Tax professionals.

Let BMSS sister company, Abacus IT Solutions. learn more about your operations and needs to design a firewall and protection strategy customized for your business.

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.
 

AICPA Poll Says Most Americans Regret the Way They Paid for College

According to an article in Journal of Accountancy, the majority of Americans regret the way they paid for college. 

If they had to do it all over again, the majority of Americans would have paid for college differently, a new AICPA survey finds. Sixty-eight percent of adults with college loans or whose children have loans said they regret how they financed their own or their children’s education. Moreover, 4 out of 5 respondents questioned at least one decision they made about their education.

Consumers paying off loans can seek advice from their BMSS CPA and use the free Student Loan Consolidation and Debt Payoff calculator on the AICPA’s Feed the Pig website.

Read the full article...

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.

New Employees January 2015

Welcome new employees! Zach Clifton joined BMSS as Staff Accountant B. Tyler Bartlett 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.