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A Message to Our Valued Clients

In the interest of public health and the safety of our community, and in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s executive order, Freed Maxick has suspended onsite client work and cancelled all office visits. Meanwhile, our team is working remotely to provide the same high-quality service you have come to expect. Utilizing the best technology at our disposal, we will continue to meet all of your audit, tax, and advisory needs and help you navigate the business implications of the pandemic as it unfolds. You can reach your Freed Maxick representative directly by email or phone, or contact our main line at 716.847.2651.

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Summing It Up

Keeping you ahead of the curve with timely news & updates.


Freed Maxick

Recent Posts

Three Tax Credits You Should Know About

NY State Tax CreditsWith the new release of income tax credits, three New York State business tax credits have been extended or created to help reduce New York State income tax liability. These credits include potential claims for refundable credits even if you do not owe any income tax and may benefit employers.

For a full explaination of these credits please see our client alert here.

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Seeing Comments on Your Management Letter- A Consultant Can Help!

By Chris Piedici

Auditor comments within a management letter help address deficiencies with financial reporting so that board members and management can make informed and timely business decisions; with the ultimate goal being to strengthen the collection of data for financial reporting.

With the understanding that charter school boards vary in size and qualifications, the average board comprises 10 people and at least one person with a background in financial management. Charter boards have a fiduciary responsibility over budgeting and financial reporting, but are less likely to oversee the day to day control over human resources and financial processes. These challenges can make it difficult to obtain the right staffing to reduce deficiencies that are of high importance to remediate. Incorrect reporting of financial data can impede the progress of the future success of the educational system. With the source of funds from state aid flowing through Public School Districts to the Charter Schools, it’s especially important that Charter Schools are being fiscally responsible. The benefits of a consultant with backgrounds in Public Schools and Charter Schools can help reduce the burden of meeting the fiscal recommendations of management letters.

Consulting firms can assist with:

  •     Quarterly reviews of the financial data,
  •      Being an intermediate level of oversight between the auditor, internal finance positions and the board,
  •    Analysis of contract costs,
  •    Assessment reviews and recommendations of internal operations and,
  •    Development of Financial projections.

We understand the challenges that charter schools face with staffing limitations and can help provide remediation. For further information on the most recent audit guidelines please visit the NYS Department of Education:

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/psc/documents/NEWYORKSTATEEDUCATIONDEPARTMENTAUDITGUIDE-12.31.12-F.pdf

 

 

Charter schools are part of a broad movement in public education toward results based accountability. Charter Schools began operating in New York through the New York Charter School Act of 1998. Although charter schools have been in operation across the U.S. for nearly 15 years and in New York for ten, much of the current knowledge base is about the setup, financing, and funding of charter schools. This includes state charter school finance systems and education metrics for the students, all of which are important pieces but leave a gap in ensuring a proper financial management system is in place within these schools.

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CCH Brief Gives Insight on Net Investment Income and Medicare Tax

By: Jennifer Hatcher, CPA & Sally Wisnoski, Principal CPA

The NII surtax, for tax years beginning after December 31st, 2012, on individuals equals 3.8% of the lesser of: 

  • Net investment income for the tax year, or

  • The excess, if any of: (a) the individual’s modified adjusted gross income for the tax year, over the threshold amount.

The threshold amounts are as follows:

  1. Single- $200,000

  2. Married filing Joint Return- $250,000

  3. Married filing Separate Return $125,000

  4. Head of Household (with qualifying child)- $200,000

  5. Qualifying Widow(er) with dependent child- $200,000.

  1. The impact of these regulations will affect many different areas. Special rules will apply to areas such as estates and trusts, which are subject to the NII tax on the lesser of undistributed NII or the excess of adjusted gross income over the dollar amount at which the highest tax bracket begins. So for 2013 the bracket begins at $11,950. For 2014, it starts at $12,150. Estates and trusts should consider distributing income to beneficiaries to possibly avoid the new 3.8% NII tax.

  2. The regulations define NII through three categories; they include: Category one- gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents, other than such income which is derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business. In order to qualify for the ordinary course of a trade or business exception, two tests must be met; the item must be derived in a trade or business and the item must be derived in the ordinary course of such trade or business. Category two- other income derived from a trade or business (ie: a passive activity with respect to the taxpayer or income by a financial trader). Category three- net gain attributable to the disposition of property, other than property held in a trade or business. The final regulations retain the rule that net gain may take into account capital losses carried over from the prior years. 

  3. In computing NII, the sum of income within the above categories is reduced by deductions that are allowed under the regulations. These regulations are properly allocable to such gross income or net gains. Investment interest expense, investment expenses directly connected with the production of the investment income, and the state, local, and foreign incomes taxes.Net Investment Income Tax

  4. Additionally, the IRS proposed a different approach to a much-criticized deemed sale rule for dispositions of active interests in partnerships and S corporations.

  5. The clarifications of these regulations cover income, estimated taxes, real estate rental activities, trusts and estates, along with many other provisions that are not listed. 

    Contact Us 

    For more information on these provisions or questions regarding how these provisions apply to you please contact one of our experienced tax accountants.CCH has issued a new Tax Briefing: IRS Clarifies NII Tax / Additional Medicare Tax in Final Regs, providing insight on the recently released 3.8% final Net Investment Income (NII) tax and 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax regulations. The regulations, created from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, are intended to help fund health care reform. These much-anticipated final regulations come nearly one year after the IRS issued proposed reliance regulations.

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Deadline for the School Tax Relief Exemption is Fast Approaching!

By: Amanda Roth, CPA

More than 2.6 million New York State property taxpayers receive the School Tax Relief exemption (STAR). Due to the State’s massive undertaking to flush out $1.9 billion in fraud, taxpayers now have to reapply for the benefits.

Enacted in 1998, the STAR program provides a partial exemption from school taxes for most homeowners with incomes less than $500,000 on their primary residence. The state's enhanced STAR program provides an additional benefit for senior citizens. The registration will not affect this year's tax bills, nor will it affect enhanced STAR. Seniors are required to register every year to receive the enhanced STAR exemption. New York has among the highest property taxes in the nation, and the program funded by the state aims to blunt some of the pain. In 2011, homeowners saved on average $641 through STAR and $1,205 for enhanced STAR.

Homeowners should have received a letter, instructing them to reapply for the STAR program online or by phone by Dec. 31, 2013. People will need to verify their salaries, Social Security numbers and primary residence. The initiative, approved as part of the state budget last March, will seek to stop some property owners from claiming the tax breaks on multiple homes. The state first attempt to weed out fraud dealt with tightening eligibility for the STAR program. In 2011, the growth in STAR exemptions was limited to 2 percent a year. A year earlier, it was limited to those earning $500,000 or less. A recent audit conducted in March determined still widespread abuse of the STAR program, and the state is hoping to save at least $1 million a year from the new system. The audit, from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, found that the program had duplicate and improper exemptions for property owners. He said the state lost out on $13 million during the 2010-11 fiscal year and potentially $73 million by 2016.

This the first time in 15 years that such a request for reapplication has been made and in order to ensure the continuation of the tax break, homeowners will need to fill out the new application. In an attempt to educate taxpayers before the deadline, the tax department has undertaken a series of outreach events across New York State to make people aware of the new requirement, such as attending public meetings and hosting a tent at the State Fair in Syracuse. If people miss the deadline the state will notify local assessors to strip taxpayers of their STAR benefits when school-tax bills go out in fall 2014. There will be an appeals process for those who may miss the deadline, but it could be laborious and require STAR tax breaks to be refunded to people after the full tax bill is already paid.

Many local assessors are bracing for an influx of panicked calls from those who have missed the deadline. The worry is that if people aren’t paying attention to the state’s new registration, they won’t do anything about this until they get hit with higher taxes.

The new registration for basic STAR will only be for one year, but new property owners will have to go through the process in future years, as well as file with the local assessor's office. The state is also toughening penalties for fraudulent STAR claims. This new initiative will allow the state tax department to use Social Security numbers to determine if homeowners are getting more than one STAR benefit.

 

Contact Us

If you have questions about the new registration program call (518) 457-2036, or visit the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

For information about how Freed Maxick CPAs can help guide and manage your individual or business tax strategies, contact us to learn more.

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IRS Releases New Interactive Online Application for Tax Exempt Status- Form 1023

By: Sandra DeSimone, CPA, Manager

If your organization is considering applying for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you may want to consider doing it on-line.

Peter Lorenzetti, the IRS Northeast Exempt Organization Exam Manager, recently presented at the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants Exempt Organizations Conference. The presentation discussed the September 2013 IRS launch of the much anticipated interactive on-line Form 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The online version of the form 1023 was designed to make the application process more efficient and user friendly. When the application is being filled out on-line, there are pop-up boxes with instructions and information to assist the user. According to Lorenzetti, since its launch, 166 applications for tax exempt status have been completed using the new interactive Form 1023 and the comments from users have been positive.

How long will it take for an application to be approved? 

Recently, the IRS has come under scrutiny for long wait times of application approvals. Lorenzetti noted the average application takes six months to be approved. Some causes for delayed applications are submission of incorrect user fee, and/or inaccurate or incomplete applications. Key wording also needs to be targeted in the narratives, to demonstrate the mission of the organization. It is suggested that the application be thoroughly reviewed before submitting it to the IRS.

We suggest your organization obtain professional advice with your organization’s application for tax exempt status. Freed Maxick CPA’s is an expert in the process. We can either prepare your application or review it before it is submitted. Contact Us today to get connected to a professional who can help.

 

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The IRS releases updated guidance on CHNA

By: Freed Maxick Healthcare: Carol Cassell, Barbara Losi, Sandra DeSimone

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the IRS has released proposed regulations, in addition to section 501 (r), that provide updated guidance to charitable hospitals on the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA.) Requirements under the Affordable Care Act include reporting requirements and the consequences of noncompliance. The regulations loosen the CHNA-related penalties and grant some waivers for minor infractions, among other things. Hospitals can rely on the proposed regulations for guidance until the final rules are released. Hospitals, such as duel status government hospitals, that can’t file form 990 are still required to comply with section 50 (r).

Understanding the requirements

Tax-exempt facilities must conduct, document, and implement a CHNA at least every three years. They also need to gather input from people “representing the broad interests of the community served” by the hospital, including those with special knowledge or expertise in public health. The facility’s authorized body must then adopt an implementation strategy that will meet the community health needs identified through the assessment. In addition, a CHNA must be made widely available to the public. This requirement can be met when the tax exempt hospital puts its CHNA on its website.

IRS Notice 2011-52 provided previous guidance on compliance with the CHNA requirements. The proposed regulations make some important changes to that guidance. Take note that CHNAs and related implementation strategies completed after Oct. 5, 2013, may no longer rely on Notice 2011-52.

Understand the changes

Facilities should be aware of the following changes from previous IRS guidance, per IRS bulletin 2013-21:

Definition of “medically underserved”- Previous guidance required facilities to get input from “medically underserved populations” but failed to define the term. The proposed regulations define it as populations experiencing health disparities or at risk of not receiving adequate medical care as a result of being underinsured or uninsured or because of financial, geographic, language or other barriers.

Relevant community health needs- Under the proposed regulations, facilities now must identify, prioritize and then address all “significant” community health needs, as opposed to every community health need. Hospitals have some flexibility in determining whether a health need is significant, and the regulations don’t require a specific method for prioritizing significant health needs (although examples of the criteria are provided). Facilities are simply advised to identify and prioritize needs based on all the relevant facts and circumstances in the community. The hospital will, however, need to explain their processes and criteria in the CHNA.

Implementing the strategy- Under the proposed regulations, the implementation plan describing how a facility will meet significant community health needs (and, for those it doesn’t intend to address, why) must provide a lot more detail than previously. For example, the hospital must describe:

·         Any actions the facility plans to take,

·         Any programs and resources the hospital plans to commit to address those actions, and

·         Any plans to evaluate the effects.

The good news in all of this is this; the regulations extend the deadline for a hospital’s first implementation strategy. In general, it must be adopted by the end of the same taxable year in which the CHNA was conducted, but the regulations allow more time for the first strategy.

Reporting requirements- The proposed regulations require a facility to attach their most recent implementation strategy to its Form 990 each and every year. It must also describe any actions taken during the taxable year to address the significant health needs. If no actions were taken, the hospital must provide reasons why. The IRS has also added questions to Form 990 to reflect the new reporting requirements.

Safe harbors- The proposed regulations include two “safe harbors” that will protect a facility in violation of the requirements from any negative consequences. Some minor and inadvertent errors or omissions of reasonable cause aren’t considered failures, so long as they’re corrected promptly. And certain non-willful or non-egregious failures will be “forgiven” if hospitals correct them promptly and disclose them.

Watch out for the penalties

The Affordable Care Act calls for a $50,000 excise tax per facility per taxable year of noncompliance with the CHNA requirements. The tax should be disclosed on Form 990. If a charitable hospital is liable for the excise tax, it must file a return on Form 4720.

Any hospital that doesn’t comply may also lose its tax-exempt status. If only a single facility within a health organization doesn’t comply, the organization and its other hospitals will keep their status, but the noncompliant facility may be subject to taxation.

Work with your financial and healthcare advisors

While the proposed regulations don’t carry the weight of law, they do provide valuable protections to those facilities that adhere to them. The regulations also give a pretty reliable preview of the final rules. The bottom line is- make sure you talk to your financial and health care advisors about CHNA compliance.

 

Sidebar: What if you want to collaborate?

The proposed regulations regarding CHNA allow facilities to collaborate on both the implementation strategies and the reports themselves in some circumstances. Previous guidance required every hospital to create its own CHNA and implementation strategy. Now, a joint CHNA is allowed if:

·         The facilities conduct a joint CHNA process,

·         They use the same definition of “community,”

·         The joint report is identified as applying to each hospital, and an authorized body from each hospital adopts the report. (An “authorized body” is a facility’s governing body or a committee or individual authorized by the governing body.)

A facility can also develop joint implementation strategies if certain conditions are satisfied. But, each hospital must document its own strategy in a separate written plan that takes into account its specific resources and programs, or provide the URL(s) of the web pages where it has made each implementation strategy on Form 990.

Freed Maxick’s Healthcare Practice is the leader in Upstate New York; providing comprehensive assurance and advisory related services to the healthcare provider industry. We assist a broad spectrum of clients including large multi-state integrated healthcare delivery systems, free standing acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, physician practices, senior housing facilities, mental health clinics, hospice and more.

Our services include traditional assurance services (financial statement, cost report and A-133 compliance audits) as well as a wide range of innovative advisory services that range from regulatory compliance matters to strategic planning and operations improvement. Our Upstate New York Healthcare practice of over 20 full time professionals is augmented by our national resource capabilities.

 

For more information about the services we provide, please visit our link or contact us today.

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Don’t Forget to Carve out your Sales Tax this Halloween

By: Amanda Roth, Senior Tax Manager

HalloweenHalloween is a signifier of many things. It brings to mind the fall season, children running around in costumes, carving pumpkins, baking apple pies, and eating candy. Few look at the picture at right and think about paying sales tax. But sales tax applies to many things- including Halloween items. Here are a few sales tax facts to consider this Halloween.

In New York State, sales of pie pumpkins, gourds, and other items sold in supermarkets that are used by a purchaser in cooking pies, cakes, breads, cookies, etc., are exempt from New York sales tax because they constitute food sold for human consumption. However, decorative and carving pumpkins (including decoration gourds) are not being marketed or sold in their normal or intended use for human consumption. Thus, decorative pumpkins and gourds, and carving pumpkins, whether sold in supermarkets, farm stands, nurseries, or other businesses, are not sold as “food” and constitute tangible personal property subject to sales tax.  So if you are buying a pumpkin which you will use to bake a pie then it is exempt from New York sales tax.  However, if you are buying a carving pumpkin to carve a jack-o-lantern, that pumpkin is subject to New York sales tax.

In addition, generally, food, food products, beverages, dietary foods and health supplements sold for human consumption are not subject to New York sales tax. However, the exemption does not apply to candy and confectionery. Therefore, Halloween candy is subject to New York sales tax.

Also, beginning April 1, 2012, there is an exemption from New York state sales and use tax for clothing, footwear, and items used to make or repair clothing, costing less than $110 per item or pair. This exemption does not apply to locally imposed sales and use taxes unless the county or city imposing those taxes elected the exemption.  For purposes of the exemption, the term "clothing and footwear" is defined to mean: clothing and footwear to be worn by human beings. This does not include costumes or rented formal wear;  fabric, thread, yarn, buttons, snaps, hooks, zippers and like items that are used or consumed to make or repair such clothing (other than costumes or rented formal wear) and become a physical component part of the clothing. Therefore, the pants you buy to take you child “trick or treating” are exempt from New York sales tax but your child’s Halloween costume is subject to New York sales tax.

New York state sales tax is complicated and most areas are not straight forward. Sometimes the use of an item dictates whether and item is subject to sales tax. If sales tax is this complex for Halloween items, imagine how complicated they can be when considering whether your business needs to collect sales tax.

For information about how Freed Maxick can help guide and manage your individual or business tax strategies, contact us to learn more.

 

 

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Final Tangible Property Regulations: FREE Webinar Available Now

The Final Tangible Property Regulations - Are You Informed?
Get access to our latest webinar for all the details

Tangible Property Regulations

describe the imageOn September 13, 2013, the IRS issued final regulations affecting costs to acquire, produce, or improve tangible property and re-proposed regulations affecting disposition of tangible property. The final regulations are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. These regulations will affect all taxpayers that acquire, produce or improve tangible property. 

Please check out our recent webinar that highlights the significant changes from the 2011 temporary regulations and discusses implementation planning.

http://blog.freedmaxick.com/the-final-tangible-property-regulations

Agenda Includes:

  • Background and update

  • Materials and supplies

  • Acquisition costs

  • Improvements

  • Dispositions

  • Implementation planning

  • Q&A

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Depreciation Incentives Scheduled to Expire at the End of 2013

2013 may be the last opportunity for taxpayers to take advantage of bonus depreciation, an enhanced Code Section 179 expensing deduction, and Code Section 179D deduction for energy efficient improvements to commercial buildings. 

By: Jennifer A Birkemeier, CPA
Senior Manager, CSP360
http://www.csp-360.com

Taxpayers considering making significant capital investments in property in the near future should consider making such investments by December 31, 2013 to enjoy these lucrative tax benefits. These tax benefits may allow the entire cost to be expensed  for the 2013 tax year instead of a deduction claimed over a period of years under the MACRS depreciation rules. Given the tax increases and new taxes effective beginning with the 2013 tax year, the ability to deduct capital investments in property could result in a significant tax savings.

Bonus depreciation, as defined in Code Section 168(k), was first introduced in 2001 and has been extended & enhanced several times over the past 12 years. This tax incentive allows for a percentage of an asset’s basis, currently 50%, to be expensed immediately while the remaining basis is depreciated over the MACRS recovery period. If the law is not extended, bonus depreciation will not be available for property placed in service after December 31, 2013. To qualify for bonus depreciation, the asset must qualify as new property that has not been previously used by another taxpayer.

Code Section 179 currently allows a taxpayer to expense up to $500,000 of qualifying property placed in service during the 2013 tax year. The property must be personal property and the maximum amount of qualifying property that a taxpayer may place in service during 2013 is $2,000,000 before the deduction begins to phase out. Beginning with the 2014 tax year, the Code Section 179 deduction will be lowered to $25,000. The ability to expense up to $500,000 has helped many taxpayers decide to proceed with asset acquisitions in 2013.  

Taxpayers have the opportunity to receive immediate tax deductions for energy efficient improvements that they have made to a building since 2006. Code Section 179D provides a deduction of up to $1.80 per Square Foot for energy efficient lighting, HVAC and building envelope improvements that a taxpayer has placed in service by December 31, 2013. There is also an opportunity to review improvements since2006 and claim deductions that a taxpayer may have missed. There are several requirements to receive the Code Section 179D deduction that include receiving a specific certification from a qualified individual. In addition, for government owned buildings the deduction can be allocated to the architect or engineer who is primarily responsible for the design of the energy efficient improvements.

CSP360 is a subsidiary of Freed Maxick, CPAs in Buffalo NY. Freed Maxick CPAs is a Top 100 accounting Firm, and one of the leading providers of Cost Segregation and consulting services. Our philosophy is to offer clients a 360 approach to a taxpayer’s fixed assets; pairing engineering and LEED specialists with accountants for a truly unique tax advisory team. Since 1995, our in house team has provided specialty studies to CPAs in a private label arrangement. Products include Cost Segregation, Code Section 179D Energy Studies and Code Section 263(a) repair studies. CSP360 is Circular 230 compliant and has proven methodologies that are sustainable in the event of an IRS examination. To learn more about our unique approach click here.

 

 

     

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2013 NYS Bones Annual Conference - Speaking Engagement

October 17-18, 2013 The Desmond Hotel, Albany New York
2013 NYS Bones Annual Conference

The 6th Annual NYS Bones Conference will be held Thursday and Friday, October 17-18, 2013 in Albany, New York.

This year organizers are expecting a much larger attendance with earlier promotion and a growing member base. The program is being finalized with presentations suggested by membership, including Worker's Comp and legislative updates and a open panel discussion with recognized experts in accounting, legal, HR and finance.

The conference is open to all orthopedic practice managers and key staff, both members and non-members of NYS Bones, from New York and New Jersey. The organization is working closely with NYSSOS to encourage physicians to be sure their office staff take advantage of the educational opportunities offered.

The conference designed to provide focused topics on key issues facing practices and three separate open sessions for discussion of the myriad questions we all face as practice managers. This format is based on the feedback from previous conferences which indicated that most want the opportunity to raise common problems and learn from each other’s ideas, and solutions. This is also an opportunity to develop ongoing working relationships with others. In addition there are over 30 exhibitors who provide products and services to New York orthopedic practices.

Make sure to check out the 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2013 “Panel Discussion with Legal, Financial, and HR Experts” featuring Shawn M. Frier, CPA, CPE, CMPE, Director, Freed Maxick, Buffalo, NY
  
A unique opportunity to ask experts about those burning questions we face in our day-to-day practice lives. The session will begin with panel introductions and their perspectives in the challenges facing healthcare and orthopaedic practices. This will follow with an extended time for Q&A with the audience. Bring your questions for a broad perspective of opinion from the experts. Moderator: Megan O’Connor, President, NYS Bones, Practice Manager, Robert Moriatry, M.D., PC, Huntington, NY

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