IRS Updates to Retirement Plan Limits
Nov 06,2018
One of the most common compliance issues for employers and plan sponsors is failure to adhere to annual retirement plan limits. To avoid costly penalties and administratively burdensome correction procedures, plan sponsors must remain up-to-date with respect to applicable retirement plan limits. Today, November 1, 2018, the IRS announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting the 2019 dollar limitations for retirement plans and other retirement-related items.  Please note that the chart below does not include all applicable retirement plan limits, just some of the common ones. [table id=7 /] [table id=8 /] The information above originally appeared in Hall Benefits Law, LLC's  November 2018 Blog post. 
Smith & Howard Appoints J. Sean Spitzer to Lead Assurance Practice Effective January 1, 2019
Aug 07,2018
ATLANTA, GA – On July 24, 2018, Smith & Howard announced that J. Sean Spitzer will assume the role of Partner in charge of the firm’s Assurance Services group, effective January 1, 2019. Spitzer will succeed Sean Taylor who will become Managing Partner of Smith & Howard on January 1, 2019. Spitzer will oversee advisory, audit, review, attestation and other assurance services to the firm’s privately-held business clients. Sean joined Smith & Howard in 2002 and was promoted to Partner in 2014. “I have been working with Sean since he joined Smith & Howard almost 20 years ago. He is well suited to lead our assurance practice, having the trust of the firm’s leaders and employees as well as that of our clients,” said Sean Taylor, current Assurance Services practice leader and incoming Managing Partner. Sean earned a BBA and a Master of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee. He...
Entities Find Some Relief in FASB’s Revised Lease Accounting Standard with “Targeted Improvements”
Aug 07,2018
On July 30, 2018, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued revisions to Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). The revisions address concerns that the original ASU creates hardship and ultimately expense for: Entities and their auditors who prepare comparative financial statements, and Lessors who, under the original ASU, are required to separate components of leasing agreements and recognize the different components according to applicable guidance. This separation of components could result in certain components of the lease agreement being recognized under the accounting guidance for leases and other components being recognized under the accounting guidance for revenue for contracts with customers or other guidance. ASU No. 2018-11, Leases (Topic 842): Targeted Improvements aims to alleviate these concerns with the following two options: An option to apply the transition provisions of the new standard at the effective date instead of at the earliest comparative period presented in an entity’s financial...
Supreme Court Rules Against Wayfair – For Sales Tax on Internet Sales
Jul 13,2018
In a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 21, 2018, the gates to the collection of sales tax on internet sales were flung wide open, revealing the promise of significant new revenue for 45 states. Background In brief, the overall issue at the court’s feet in South Dakota vs. Wayfair was whether states have a right to collect tax on sales made in their state by remote sellers, regardless of whether the seller has a physical presence in the taxing State. According to the Court’s opinion, the estimated sales tax revenues being lost each year because of the nexus rule range from $8 to $33 billion. In previous cases of Quill and Bella Hess (links below), the Court had ruled against states’ authority to collect sales tax without substantial nexus under multiple facets, the most significant being the physical presence test levied under the Quill decision. Ultimately...
U.S. Supreme Court Set to Render Decision on Wayfair vs. South Dakota
Jul 09,2018
Within a matter of days, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is set to render a decision on Wayfair vs. South Dakota – a landmark case that will impact the collection and reporting of sales tax on internet sales. Eric Tresh, Partner with Eversheds Sutherland and Tim Howe, Partner with Smith & Howard provide background on the case and thoughts on how a ruling may affect businesses: Q: Consensus seems to be that SCOTUS will rule in favor of South Dakota. Is this likely? In oral arguments, the Justices seemed to be split. Many seem to be interested in the practical ramifications of the case, which are significant. Those questions surrounded the cut-off number for requiring sales tax collection – would it be $90,000, $200,000, $500,000?  In addition, they asked about third-party sellers, such as Amazon, that could be required to collect sales tax for sales made by...
Internet Sales Tax Alert – U.S. Supreme Court Decision Imminent
Apr 05,2018
If you sell your products online in a state in which you do not have a physical presence, a decision expected to be rendered by the US Supreme Court in the coming months may dramatically change your business. Since 1992, the rule of the land has been that if you do not have a physical presence in a state that you sell products to (nexus), you do not have to charge or collect sales tax from your customers. With the explosion of internet sales, states across the country have been missing out on significant revenue from such sales tax collections. The fight that will decide this issue for the future is now before the Supreme Court (South Dakota vs. Wayfair).  We fully expect the Supreme Court to rule in favor of South Dakota, with several Justices indicating concerns about the original decision (Quill) that established the nexus rule. Justice Kennedy...
Why Should Your Service Organization Provide a SOC Report to Customers?
Jan 23,2018
As an outsourced vendor of tasks for businesses, you may be asked to provide your customer with reliable documentation that your systems and procedures are structured in a way that significantly minimizes their risks. Businesses that most often are asked to provide this documentation are those that provide services such as: data backups cloud computing network monitoring telecommunications platforms application development managed security bill processing receivables collections payroll services Experience has shown that simple questionnaires and contractual clauses are not sufficient for businesses to rely on. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants stresses this to business owners by stating, “Although management of a user entity can delegate tasks or functions to a service organization, the responsibility for the service provided to customers of the user entity cannot be delegated.  Management of a user entity is usually held responsible by those charged with governance (for example, the board of directors);...
Why Should You Request a SOC Report from Your Vendors?
Jan 22,2018
The importance of vendor management continues to grow, especially given the rise in outsourcing tasks or entire functions of an organization to a service provider.  Many companies function more effectively and profitably by outsourcing tasks like data backups, cloud computing, network monitoring, telecommunications platforms, application development, managed security, bill processing, receivables collections, payroll services, and many more new services every day. Practicing this breadth of outsourcing exposes your organization to risk and underscores the need for effective vendor due diligence.  Experience has shown that simple questionnaires and contractual clauses are not sufficient for critical vendors – businesses need to obtain an Independent System and Organization Controls (SOC) report. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants states the following: “Management of a user entity is responsible for assessing and addressing risks faced by the user entity related to financial reporting, compliance with laws and regulations, and the efficiency and effectiveness of...
Contractors: New Accounting Rules for Revenue Recognition Are Coming
Nov 06,2017
Construction businesses that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) will face an important change in about one year. That’s when Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, begins to take effect for private companies. Let’s take a look at what’s changing. Primary objective To be precise, for private companies the new rules take effect with annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018. They’ll affect contractors with significant dollar value contracts that span considerable lengths of time. The big change, in a nutshell, is a move away from a strict percentage-of-completion method to recognizing revenue under a revenue recognition model. Your primary objective under ASU 2014-09 will be to separate contracts into “performance obligations.” The issuer of the new rules, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), defines these as “promised goods or services that are distinct and should be accounted for separately.” What makes them recognizable...
IRS Tax Audits: What Every Business Owner Should Know
Sep 18,2017
When thinking about risks to your company, you might picture a natural disaster or an unstoppable competitor. An IRS audit may not immediately come to mind. But getting that fateful letter in the mail can still hurt morale, impede productivity and delay the accomplishment of strategic objectives. Here’s what every business owner should know about the process.Return-related risksThe IRS maintains that many business audits occur randomly. That said, a variety of tax-return-related items are likely to raise red flags with the IRS and may lead to an audit. For instance, if the agency notices significant inconsistencies between previous years’ filings and your most current filing, it could decide to pursue the matter.Maybe you just had a really good year — or a really bad one. But if your company’s income seems substantially higher or lower than in previous years, you’ve got to be able to clearly show why. On a...

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