Category Archives: Blog

IRS2Go Mobile App

June 29, 2018

IRS2Go is the official mobile app of the IRS…. check your refund status, make a payment, sign up for helpful tax tips, and more! IRS2Go is available in both English and Spanish and offers many features…

 Refund Status

 Check the status of your federal income tax refund using IRS2Go. You can check your refund status within 24 hours after we receive your e-filed return, or about four (4) weeks after mailing your paper return.

 Make a Payment

 Get easy access to mobile-friendly payment options like IRS Direct Pay, offering you a free, secure way to pay directly from your bank account. You can also make a credit or debit card payment through an approved payment processor.

 

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When to Begin Taking RMDs – Best Not to Wait until Year End

January 15, 2018

Arrange Your RMDs Before Year End

During the course of your career, you may have managed to build up a tidy nest egg, most likely augmented by tax-favored saving devices. For instance, you may have accumulated funds in qualified retirement plans, like 401(k) plans and pension plans, and traditional and Roth IRAs. If you don’t need all the funds to live on, your goal likely is to preserve some wealth for your heirs.

Can you keep what you want? Not exactly. Under strict tax rules, you generally must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement plans and IRAs (except Roth IRAs) after age 70½. And you must continue taking RMDs year in and year out without fail. Don’t skip this obligation for 2017, because the penalty for omission is severe.

When Should You Begin Taking Distributions?

RMD rules apply to all employer-sponsored retirement plans, including pension and profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans for not-for-profit organizations and 457(b) plans for government entities. The rules also cover traditional IRAs and IRA-based plans such as SEPs, SARSEPs and SIMPLE-IRAs. But you don’t have to withdraw an RMD from a qualified plan of an employer if you still work full-time for the employer and you don’t own more than 5% of the company.

The required beginning date for RMDs is April 1 of the year after the year in which you turn age 70½. For example, if your 70th birthday was June 15, 2017, you must begin taking RMDs no later than April 1, 2018. This is the only year where you’re allowed to take an RMD after the close of the year for which it applies. (Keep in mind that delaying the first RMD will result in two RMD withdrawals during that tax year.) The deadline for subsequent RMDs is December 31 of the year for which the RMD applies.

If you’ve inherited a retirement plan, contact us for information on when you must begin taking RMDs. And if you inherited a Roth IRA, be aware that you will be required to take RMDs.

How Much is Your RMD?

To calculate the RMD amount, you divide the balance in the plan account or IRA on December 31 of the prior year by the factor in the appropriate IRS life expectancy table.

Although you must determine the RMD separately for each IRA you own, you can withdraw the total amount from just one IRA, or any combination of IRAs that you choose. However, for qualified plans other than a 403(b), the RMD must be taken separately from each plan account.

What’s the Penalty for Failing to Take RMDs?

The penalty is equal to a staggering 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn, reduced by any amount actually withdrawn. For example, if you’re required to withdraw $10,000 this year and take out only $2,500, the penalty is $3,750 (50% of $7,500). Plus, you still have to pay regular income tax on the distributions when taken.

Keep in mind that with the additional income there are other tax issues, such as the net investment income tax (NIIT). RMDs aren’t subject to the NIIT but will increase your modified adjusted gross income for purposes of this calculation and thus could trigger or increase the NIIT. The NIIT might, however, be repealed under health care or tax reform legislation. (Contact us for the latest information.)

Don’t Procrastinate!

Typically, taxpayers wait until December to arrange to take RMDs from qualified plans and IRAs. But that could be dangerous. It’s easy to be distracted during the holiday season and forget about the obligation. Furthermore, it can take several days, if not longer, for trading and settling funds. And haste can lead to errors and miscalculations that could cost you.

A better approach is to take your time. Make arrangements for RMDs well in advance of the December 31 deadline.

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Fraud Detection and Prevention

November 1, 2017

 

Fraud may be committed by senior executives, managers, and employees, and each of these three groups is about equally likely to do so. The higher up on the scale, the longer it takes to detect the fraud.

Why embezzlement occurs:

  1. Opportunity–a person who has been with the company a long time may not be supervised closely; and therefore, may have more opportunities to commit fraud.
  2. Rationalization–someone feels he or she is not being compensated appropriately, or has been passed over unfairly for a promotion.
  3. Pressure–financial pressure or the pressure to lead a life style that can’t be supported by current income. Personnel nearing retirement may have financial pressure if they are concerned about having enough assets to provide for their retirement.
  4. Arrogance–the more arrogant an executive, manager, or employee, the more likely he or she will commit fraud.
  5. Competence–highly skilled people are better able to commit fraud.

How fraud is detected and prevented:

  1. Most fraud is detected by tips from other employees, sometimes via a hotline. Employees may be more likely than management to be aware of unusual behavior that that may indicate another employee is involved in fraudulent activity.
  2. Management attitudes and systems can demonstrate that management is alert to the possibility of fraud. For example management may reconcile bank statements and question employees about non-reconciled items. Employees who are aware that management is alert to possible fraudulent activity are less likely to commit fraud.
  3. Customers may report possible fraudulent activities. For example, not receiving a receipt for a payment may create suspicion of fraudulent activity. Customers can be invited to participate in the hotline mentioned above.

Red flags that may indicate fraud (but no one red flag is generally a sufficient indicator):

  1. Living beyond means
  2. Unusually close to a customer or vendor
  3. Financial problems
  4. Sudden changes in personality or appearance
  5. Refusing promotions or opportunities to learn new skills
  6. Not taking time off even when obviously ill
  7. A pattern of arriving very early and leaving very late every day
  8. Overly protective of work space
  9. Limited segregation of duties
  10. Personnel involved in many outside ventures
  11. Alterations of documents
  12. Documents go missing
  13. Employee involved in nearly every function in the office
  14. Employee or manager has created very complex and confusing processes and refuses to change or simplify them

Prevention

  1. Hotline–an external hotline may work best as it can be monitored continually
  2. Internal controls
    1. Segregation of duties
    2. Management reviews–e.g., investigating red flags, verifying the legitimacy of vendors
    3. Surprise audits can serve to demonstrate to employees that they commit fraud at great risk of being detected
    4. Employee support programs, e.g., assistance with financial planning, guidance in drug abuse problems
    5. Requiring annual vacations
    6. Regular rotation of job functions
    7. Develop a code of conduct and require all personnel to sign it annually. It will set forth the ethical behavior required of all personnel and describe fraudulent activity. It can be helpful in a court of law when trying to recover fraud losses. (most fraud losses are never recovered, due to some extent to the difficulty in getting government officials to agree to prosecute)
  3. Be aware of publicized frauds in other companies and try to determine how the circumstances in your company can lead to a similar occurrence

This blog provides a limited introduction to fraud detection and prevention. For more detailed information or to ask questions about any of the content above, please contact us.

 

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