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 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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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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Take a Day to Pump Up your Excel Skills

Imagine this situation. Building contractor Jones has asked CPA Smith to review payables and receivables. “I want to be sure that our vendors have billed us as agreed,” says Jones. Smith wants to send a staff person to Jones office to compile the information into an Excel worksheet for further analysis and reporting.

How can Smith design a spreadsheet for data entry and analysis that
• helps speed data entry, is easily modified, and is responsive to changing assumptions?
• provides instructions to guide the data entry process?
• is also suitable for presentation to the client?

What’s more, since Smith won’t be doing the data entry himself, how can he include automation to give feedback during the data entry process and provide validity checks to prevent “garbage-in garbage out” problems?

If you don’t know the answers these questions and would like to, you may want to participate in the May 12 webcast Building Interactive Excel Spreadsheets for Data Capture.

Or consider this problem. A frantic client calls Ray Knight, CPA and owner of Knight Consulting. “My accounting software won’t work, the software vendor is out of business, and the data isn’t compatible with any other available software. Help!”

Ray helps the client set up another accounting software package for current year operations, but the client still needs access to information from prior years. Ray received a data dump from a recovery specialist and is considering the next steps. What issues should Ray consider when integrating data for use in Excel? How can he modify the dataset? How can he design a spreadsheet that will provide interactivity with the client for ad hoc analysis and reporting? You can find out the answers to these and more questions in the May 12 webcast Using Excel with External Data.

Can’t make the May date? No worries. Both webcasts will be presented again in July by L. Keith Jordan, CPA. In addition to 30 years experience in accounting, supervision, and management, Jordan is an expert in IT and business applications.

Why not make a day of advancing your Excel skills?

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Improve Your Excel Skills with this Free Excel Training

How are your Excel skills? Average? Enough to get by? Have you ever thought that with just a little training, you may be able to get your work done faster, and maybe reduce the errors that occasionally sneak in?

One of the best ways to learn more about Excel, discover shortcuts and time savers is through webcast training where the instructor demonstrates directly in Excel. You see the click-by-click steps needed to perform each function. You can follow along and ask questions. And, if you didn’t fully absorb the information, you can view the recording of the presentation again for additional review.

In response to the popularity of Excel training, CPE Link has built up its Excel curriculum to include over 20 specialized topics geared towards CPAs. Some of the more popular presentations are: Mastering Excel Pivot Tables, Tips and Tricks for Creating Charts, Mastering Advanced Excel Formulas, Automating Excel-Based Financial Statements, and Introduction to Macros. In these sessions, attendees learn practical solutions to everyday challenges.

If you haven’t experienced Excel training in the webcast format, I invite you to try before you buy! Take a peek at this FREE Excel Speed Tips on-demand webcast (a $49 value). In this 3 CPE credit self-study course Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA shares the features and shortcuts that can make you an Excel power user. Offer expires May 31.

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Professional Education: How We Learn

We all seek out education for different reasons. According to a recent poll of association executives, the top five motivators for participating in continuing education programs are:

1. To keep up to date professionally. (No small feat in today’s rapidly changing regulatory environment!)
2. To increase competence in your job
3. To learn completely new skills or knowledge
4. To maintain or improve skills or knowledge you already have.
5. To increase your self-confidence as a professional or practitioner

Although face-to-face is still the learning format of choice for the majority of practitioners, the tide is turning towards online delivery. Web-based education bypasses some of the barriers of classroom education such as being too expensive or requiring travel.

The webinar/webcast format also brings CPAs many “extras” that have always been important to them in the learning process.

• Access to the materials before the program; users can download the course materials (PPT and any supplementary) before the program.
• Access to the instructor; Users can submit a question for the speaker before, during or after the program.
• Supplemental resources; Bonus resources are made available when applicable. For instance, this last year CPE Link provided the entire compiled Q&A from our Federal Tax Update programs.

Webcasts appeal to all kinds of learners. Kinesthetic learners are kept engaged when they mouse click to answer polling questions or raise their hand. Visual learners enjoy the PowerPoint slide presentation and screen sharing that most instructors do. And, of course, auditory learners are served with listening to the presenter via VOIP or teleconference.

And everyone can benefit from repetition to reinforce learning. CPE Link allows webcast attendees access to the recording for three months following the live event.

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CPAs Mandated To Take Live Training

Continuing Professional Education courses are delivered in a variety of formats including seminars, conferences, resort events (even on cruises!), webcasts, and self-study. As in all things CPE related, each state Board of Accountancy sets the rules for what format they will accept from licensees.

And of course, each professional has a personal preference on how they like to learn. For many CPAs, self-study has long been a favorite way to earn credit hours. It’s convenient. You can study anytime, at your own pace and there are many providers offering self-study products at relatively low prices. In many states CPAs are allowed to earn 100% of their required hours using the self-study format.

Recently, however there has been a movement by state Boards of Accountancy to require at least a portion of the hours earned to involve live instruction.

• The Arizona Board of Accountancy now requires licenses to complete a minimum of 16 hours “in a classroom setting or through an interactive webinar.”

• New Jersey requires licensees to take a minimum of 60 credit hours of through “didactic instruction,” Meaning? By their definition: “in-person instruction including interactive telephone or electronic instruction.”

• South Carolina now allows: “Not more than fifty (50%) percent (20 hours) of the required hours may be in self study programs.”

When these states’ regulations changed, CPE Link started receiving calls from practitioners who had been used to taking all their hours using self-study and were now forced to find live CPE.

For this group of learners who prefer to stay home and get their education, webcasts can be a good alternative to self-study. They can meet the new “live” CPE requirement, while still enjoying the convenience of being at home (or the office). Webcasts qualify as live CPE because participants can interact with the instructor, ask and answer questions and their attendance is verified throughout the program.

And the good news is, with live webcasting, there is no test required as there is with a self-study course!

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10 Reasons to Attend the Health Care Reform Webcast

Here are the top 10 reasons you should attend CPE Link’s upcoming webcast on the Health Care Reform Act:

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains revenue raisers, new taxes, and tax credits affecting almost all employers and individuals.

2. The effective dates for these provisions cover several tax years.

3. You will get client questions! You need to get familiar with the provisions and be able to answer common questions.

4. There are opportunities created by these new provisions. You can help your clients avoid penalties and take advantage of tax credits.

5. This CPE is presented in convenient webcast format; you can learn without leaving your home or office.

6. You’ll hear from top tax instructor Vern Hoven.

7. The webcast is recorded and you can view the presentation again as many times as you like.

8. It fits your schedule; there are five dates to choose from: May 25, June 28, July 27, Aug 24, or Sep 29.

9. You can earn 2 CPE hours.

10. The program is geared to CPAs, enrolled agents and other tax practitioners.

Register today!

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