Tracking CPE Made Easier for Firm Administrators

If you are a firm administrator responsible for tracking CPE for your staff, you’ll be happy to hear that CPE Link has released a couple of new features on its Compliance Manager dashboard that will make your job easier!

Here is a quick summary of what’s new:

  • Posting Credit for Multiple Staff – Firm administrators can now post CPE credit for multiple staff who attended a course from another CPE provider in one simple entry.
  • Multiple Firm Admins – Firms now have the ability to assign as many administrators to their Firm CPE account as desired. All administrators have full rights to manage staff CPE information.

Not using Compliance Manager yet?  Have questions? Interested in scheduling a demo? Please contact Janaye Fletcher at janaye.fletcher@cpelink.com or (800) 616-3822 ext 220.

 

 

 

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Roth IRA Contribution

This information is an excerpt from the 2014-2015 IRA and Individual Retirement Federal Tax Update course by Vern Hoven:

ROTH IRA PROVISIONS §408A

Roth IRAs

Contribution amount is $5,500. Individuals with AGI below certain levels may make nondeductible contributions to a Roth IRA. The maximum annual contribution that may be made to a Roth IRA is the lesser of $5,500 or the individual’s compensation for the year. The contribution limit is reduced to the extent an individual makes contributions to any other IRA for the same taxable year. As under the rules relating to IRAs generally, a contribution of up to $5,500 for each spouse may be made to a Roth IRA provided the
combined compensation of the spouses is at least equal to the contributed amount.

Income limitation for annual contributions (2014 Pension Plan Limitation, IR 2013-86). The maximum annual Roth IRA contribution is phased out as an individual’s AGI exceeds certain limits:

Year

2013

2014

2015

Single

$112,000 – $127,000

$114,000 – $129,000

$116,000 – $131,000

Married filing joint

$178,000 – $188,000

$181,000 – $191,000

$183,000 – $193,000

Married filing separate

$0 – $10,000

$0 – $10,000

$0 – $10,000

Distributions (§408A(d)). “Qualified distributions” of designated Roth contributions are excludable from gross income. A qualified distribution is one that occurs at least five years after the year of the participant’s first designated Roth contribution (counting such first year as part of the five) and is:

1. made on or after attainment of age 59½,
2. made on account of the participant’s disability,
3. made to a beneficiary or estate on or after the participant’s death, or
4. made for qualified first-time homebuyer expenses up to $10,000.

This information and more can be found in the 2014-2015 IRA and Individual Retirement Federal Tax Update.

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Same Sex Marriage Tax Law Changes

In the 2014-2015 Individual and Employee Federal Tax Update, Vern Hoven discusses the changes in same-sex marriage laws for the year 2013 and forward. Changes include legally married same sex couples in both a same sex marriage recognized state and those living outside of a marriage recognition state.

Legal Same-Sex Marriages Are Recognized for Federal Tax Purposes 

(Rev. Rul. 2013-17)

Joint or married separate filing required for years beginning in 2013. Legally married same sex couples are treated as married for all Federal tax purposes, including income, gift and estate taxes. Starting in 2013, legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their Federal income tax returns using either the “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” filing status. For legally married couples living outside of a marriage recognition state, generally, the couple will use a married filing status for Federal purposes but their state may require that they continue to file as “single” or “head of household.”

Prior years. Under the terms of Rev. Rul. 2013-17 individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file amended returns choosing to be treated as married for Federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.

Receive this information and more tax law updates in the 2014-2015 Individual and Employee Federal Tax Update.

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101 Financial Solutions: Diagnosis and Remedy

A manager’s success depends largely on his or her ability to manage a company’s assets. This mission is complicated by the interdependent nature of a company’s finances. One short-term financial problem, such as a cash flow shortage, can cause a longer-term credit problem, such as denials for bank loans. The successful manager must be able to quickly identify and resolve such short-term problems in order to prevent their long-term deleterious effects.

Intended for effective business managers and entrepreneurs, 101 Financial Solutions covers every facet of the daily management of a business’s finances. It is designed to help managers pinpoint, remedy, and prevent business and financial problems. In each case, it also points out potential ripple effects—the ways in which a problem in one sector can disrupt operations in other areas.

A recent review praises the ease of this course:

“…The material was relevant and well written.  I liked how it was broken into sections similar to a text book but much more interesting.  The sections are set up [to] work through pretty quickly. The book thoroughly defines each problem and gives relevant and real solutions…Very complex topics like inventory and production are broken down in a way that makes them easier to understand…”

Register for 101 Financial Solutions: Diagosis and Remedy and receive instant access to the PDF document course.

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The 2014-2015 Federal Tax Updates Are Here!

The holidays are not the only thing quickly approaching! Tax season will be here before you know it; ensure you are prepared for those tricky tax changes with the 2014-2015 Federal Tax Updates! Offered in both Live Webcast and Self-Study versions, receive detailed and informative information you need-to-know from expert Vern Hoven.

Register for the Live Webcasts offered in November, December, and January and receive 16 hours of CPE test free, as well as gain access to Instructor Vern Hoven LIVE to ask questions.

2014-2015 Federal Tax Update: Part 1 (4 CPE hours)

  • Part 1 of this series focuses on changes to Individual Income Tax.

2014-2015 Federal Tax Update: Part 2 (4 CPE hours)

  • Part 2 takes a look at Real Estate Tax, Passive Loss, Individual Retirement Plan and Estate/Gift Taxation.

2014-2015 Federal Tax Update: Part 3 (4 CPE hours)

  • Part 3 of the series covers business tax changes and business retirement plans.

2014-2015 Federal Tax Update: Part 4 (4 CPE hours)

  • Part 4 takes a look at Federal Payroll changes, Corporate Tax changes, Partnership changes,and IRS Audit issues.

 

The 2014-2015 Federal Tax Updates are also available in Self-Study format, allowing you the ease of completing these courses on your own time and now on your iPad or Android Tablet. Gain instant access to video courses and bonus manuals and materials provided by Vern Hoven.

2014-2015 IRA & Individual Retirement Federal Tax Update (3 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rulings affecting IRA and individual retirement plans.

2014-2015 Real Estate & Investment Federal Tax Update (5 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting real estate taxation.

2014-2015 Estates, Trusts & Beneficiaries Federal Tax Update (2 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting gift, estate and trust taxation.

2014-2015 Schedule C/F & General Business Federal Tax Update (9 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting business taxation.

2014-2015 Business Pension Plan & Issues Federal Tax Update (2 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting pension and IRA contributions and distributions.

2014-2015 Payroll & Self-Employment Tax Federal Tax Update (2 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting payroll and self-employment taxation.

2014-2015 C & S Corporate Federal Tax Update (3 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting corporate taxation.

2014-2015 Limited Liability Company (LLC) & Partnership Federal Tax Update (2 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rules affecting partnership and LLC taxation.

2014-2015 IRS Practice & Procedures Federal Tax Update (2 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current cases and rules affecting the tax preparer’s relationship with the IRS.

2014-2015 Individual & Employee Federal Tax Update (9 CPE hours)

  • In this course, Vern discusses the current Tax Codes, cases and rulings affecting individual taxation.

Find all the information you need to register at cpelink.com or contact Customer Service and one of our knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives will be happy to assist you.

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Goodbye 2013 Returns, Hello 2014 Returns!

As the filing time for 2013 returns enters its final phase, the reality of the 2015 filing season hits! A few developments from the IRS and the courts bring new compliance measures and due diligence reminders. The fall quarterly update (offered both September 17 and October 24) will include the following:

  • When payee statements can use a truncated TIN.
  • How the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (§5000A) and Premium Tax Credit (§36B), will factor in on the 2014 Form 1040.
  • Knowing when payments between ex-spouses or soon to be ex-spouses counts as alimony.
  • Elections and accounting method changes in store per the final regulations on dispositions of tangible depreciable property.
  • A recent IRS ruling on LLC members and self-employment tax.
  • Reminders on business deductions.

This post was written by CPE Link Instructor Annette Nellen for her upcoming Live Webcasts on September 17 and October 24, Fall Quarterly Tax Update.

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Best for Spouses to Have a Meeting of the Minds Before Filing

Keeping up to date with the tax law is more than waiting for actual law changes. The numerous court cases issued each week often include reminders about due diligence, reminders for clients, and planning considerations. Of course, some of the court cases, such as regular Tax Court decisions, have new interpretations of the law. One recent case includes a reminder about the need for spouses to coordinate filing to optimize the combined tax result.

In Bruce, TC Summary Opinion 2014-46 (5/12/14), husband (H) and wife (W) were married in 2008. They had two children (including a child of W from a prior relationship). H worked for the Navy and sometimes worked away from home. In 2009, the couple mostly lived in Navy housing. W moved out in 2010, as did H and they sometimes lived with one of their parents. Divorce proceedings began in early 2010 and were complete in February 2011. H moved out of home where he lived with W in December 2010. H e-filed their MFJ 2010 return in February 2011 and told W he’d split the $4,581 refund with her. W provided H with her bank account information. W also told H she would talk to a friend of hers who did tax work. Before 4/15/11, W filed a return as head-of-household, claiming the children as dependents. H did not know.

The IRS sent a deficiency notice to H changing his filing status to MFS and denying him the child credit, dependency exemption and EITC. The Tax Court agreed with IRS. Per §1.6013-1(a)(1), it is permissible to change from joint to separate filing status if done before the due date of the return. W filed her HH return in March 2011.

The court held that W was entitled to the dependency exemptions because the children lived longer with her because H moved out in December 2010. The court also noted that the time H was away for military service does not affect this residency test. Once it was determined that W was entitled to claim the children, H did not qualify for the child credit, dependency exemption or EITC. The court did not uphold accuracy-related penalties against him though because it seemed reasonable for H to assume W was fine with the MFJ return and W even gave H her bank account information so he could give half of the refund to her.

Lesson learned – Most likely, the couple would have had a combined benefit from joint filing status… Joint income was low enough to qualify for the EITC. Also, since it does not appear that H lived out of the home for the last six months of 2010, W should have filed as MFS, not as HH (see IRC 7703(b)). With both H and W using MFS, no one can claim the EITC. Of course, divorcing spouses have additional factors to consider and to avoid joint liability, separate filing is sometimes warranted.

This and other updates of summer will be covered in the Quarterly Tax Update scheduled for August 26.

This post was written by CPE Link Instructor Annette Nellen for her upcoming Live Webcast on August 26, 2014 , Summer Quarterly Tax Update.

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The Excel Automation Feature You’re Likely Not Using

By David Ringstrom, CPA

Although Excel 2007 brought us the new ribbon interface, which replaced the traditional drop-down menus, it also gave us a great automation tool known as the Table feature. I find that most Excel users either aren’t aware of this feature, or aren’t fully aware of its capability. Read on to get a high level overview of what’s possible with the Table feature.
The Table feature is actually an update to the List feature that was buried on the Data menu in Excel 2003 and earlier. This feature appears both on the Home tab and Insert tabs of Excel 2007 and later, and is designed to simplify working with lists of data in Excel. Once you make a list into a table in Excel, the dataset takes on special characteristics:

  • Every other row will be shaded.
  • Filtering arrows appear at the top of each column.
  • If your list is too long to appear on a single screen, the headings in the first row replace the column letters in the worksheet frame when you scroll down.
  • A Design tab appears when you click any cell within a table, and from there you can toggle a total row on or off. Click any cell within the Total row to reveal a drop-down list from which you can choose to sum, count, or display other statistics that update automatically as you filter the table.
  • Tables expand automatically when you add columns to the right, or rows below (assuming that the total row is turned off). Further, when you type a formula in cell within a table, Excel automatically copies the formula down the entire column, saving you from having to drag or copy and paste the formula.

To add all of these characteristics to a data set in Excel, carry out any of these steps in Excel 2007 and later:

  1. Select any cell within a list of data.
  2. Carry out one of these steps:
    • Press Ctrl-T.
    • Choose Insert, and then Table.
    • Choose Home, Format as Table, and then choose a style.
  3. At this point you’ll be presented with a dialog box from which you can confirm the cell coordinates for data. Make sure that My Table has Headers is clicked, and then click OK.
  4. All of the above features will now be added to your data.

If you don’t like the automatic formatting that gets applied to a table, click any cell within the table to make the Design tab appear. Click the arrow in the Table Styles section, and then choose another style or click Clear. This will preserve the other functionality but remove the formatting. At any point you can return a table back to a “normal” range of cells by choosing Convert to Range on the Design tab.

Making data into a table improves data integrity in your spreadsheets:

  • Charts based on a table expand automatically as you add new months of data.
  • Pivot tables based on a table automatically “see” new rows and columns of data when you refresh the pivot table.
  • Other features, such as Sparklines in Excel 2010 and later, will automatically display additional data added to a table.

This is only a sampling of the automation features available with Excel’s Table feature.

This post was written by CPE Link Instructor David Ringstrom for his upcoming Live Webcast on June 11, Tackling Excel’s Table Feature.

About the author:
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@acctadv.com or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, teaches webcasts for CPE Link, and writes freelance articles on Excel for AccountingWEB, Going Concern, et.al.

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Important IRA and 401(k) Developments

In the past few months there have been a few interesting and important tax developments involving IRA and 401(k) distributions.

A regular Tax Court decision at the end of 2013 involved a wife forging her husband’s signature to withdraw about $37,000 from his IRA account. She used the funds for her personal benefit. Husband did not learn about it until the next year when he received the 1099-R – too late to roll it over. The court found that he was not the distributee as he received no direct or indirect benefit from the withdrawal. The court also excused him from the early distribution penalty. [Roberts, 141 TC No. 19 (12/30/13)]

Another IRA distribution case exposed an error in IRS Publication 590. The Tax Court held that an individual may have only one nontaxable rollover per year regardless of how many IRAs they have. [Bobrow, TC Memo 2014-21] The IRS subsequently issued Announcement 2014-15 providing relief, but only through 2014. The case also presents reminders of the value of an IRS publication in answering tax questions (not much) and whether status as a tax attorney is enough to waive a penalty for reasonable cause (no).

And a decision in late April involving a 401(k) distribution and divorce serves as a reminder that source of funds often matter for tax purposes. As part of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), wife was named an alternative payee of her husband’s 401(k) plan. Husband owed money to the wife and the 401(k) was used to repay her. Wife did not report the distribution on her return (for which she did receive a 1099-R) because it was money husband owed her. No surprise with the court’s conclusion – it’s taxable. Even with application of §1041, husband had no basis in the 401(k) funds and the debt owed to wife did not create any. [Weaver-Adams, TC Memo 2014-73]

Lesson learned – source of funds does matter. Husband should have taken the distribution and used the funds to repay his wife. Wife tried to get the understatement penalty waived saying she relied on her tax professional, that did not work. That also leaves a lesson for tax professionals. Remind clients that 1099s are also reported to the IRS and when they show them to you, you may want to make a copy for your file if you don’t already do so.

These and other tax updates of the past few months will be covered in the spring quarterly update on May 13 (repeated on June 4).

This post was written by CPE Link Instructor Annette Nellen for her upcoming Live Webcast on May 13, Spring Quarterly Tax Update.

 

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Federal Tax Updates are here!

Part 1: Individual Income Tax
Learn about new tax legislation passed in 2013, extender bill provisions, the individual mandate for health coverage and associated penalties, individual tax credits, including the AMT patch which has been made permanent, the new tax return filing requirements for same-sex couples and Registered Domestic Partners after the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and much more…

Topics Covered:

  • The new tax legislation passed in 2013
  • The extender bill provisions
  • The top tax bracket — it’s back to 39.6% starting this year
  • The new tax return filing requirements for same-sex couples and Registered Domestic Partners after the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA
  • The myriad of adjustments to gross income such as health savings accounts and prepaid tuition accounts
  • The ways divorce attorneys can screw up the alimony requirements
  • The return of the personal exemption phaseout and itemized deduction phaseout haircuts
  • The retention of the 0% and 15% capital gain rates and the introduction of the 20% capital gain rates on high income taxpayers
  • The stock basis reporting on the new Form 1099-B and the redesigned Form 8949
  • How to avoid the 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income
  • The new FBAR and FATCA reporting forms and requirements for both foreign income and foreign assets
  • The increase of the medical AGI haircut from 7.5% to 10%
  • The individual mandate for health coverage and associated penalties
  • Which individuals are exempt from the individual mandate
  • The itemized deductions including the charitable contribution rules, the home mortgage rules, and allowable medical expenses
  • Which form to use for Ponzi-type losses
  • The general rules on both casualty losses and theft losses
  • The individual tax credits, including the AMT patch which has been made permanent
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