Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
The break allowing taxpayers to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes was made “permanent” a little over a year ago. This break can be valuable to those residing in states with no or low income taxes or who purchase major items, such as a car or boat.
Your 2016 tax return
How do you determine whether you can save more by deducting sales tax on your 2016 return? Compare your potential deduction for state and local income tax to your potential deduction for state and local sales tax.
Don’t worry — you don’t have to have receipts documenting all of the sales tax you actually paid during the year to take full advantage of the deduction. Your deduction can be determined by using an IRS sales tax calculator that will base the deduction on your income and the sales tax rates in your locale plus the tax you actually paid on certain major purchases (for which you will need substantiation).
2017 and beyond
If you’re considering making a large purchase in 2017, you shouldn’t necessarily count on the sales tax deduction being available on your 2017 return. When the PATH Act made the break “permanent” in late 2015, that just meant that there’s no scheduled expiration date for it. Congress could pass legislation to eliminate the break (or reduce its benefit) at any time.
Recent Republican proposals have included elimination of many itemized deductions, and the new President has proposed putting a cap on itemized deductions. Which proposals will make it into tax legislation in 2017 and when various provisions will be signed into law and go into effect is still uncertain.
Questions about the sales tax deduction or other breaks that might help you save taxes on your 2016 tax return? Or about the impact of possible tax law changes on your 2017 tax planning? Contact us — we can help you maximize your 2016 savings and effectively plan for 2017.
Monday, January 16th, 2017
Today we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the tremendous impact he made on our Country. We reflect on his acts and words that are still inspiring our World today.
“Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, January 16th, 2017
Those birds didn’t stand a chance!
On January 14, a few of M&J’s partners donned their camo and hunter orange to partake in a continental pheasant hunt down at Beaver Pond Farm in Luthersville, GA. Greg Morgan hosted the group of 9 at his camp not far from the hunting club. M&J’s group of 9, plus 7 more hunters managed to kill 110 pheasant total!
Friday, January 13th, 2017
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
If you’re like many Americans, you might not start thinking about filing your tax return until close to this year’s April 18 deadline. You might even want to file for an extension so you don’t have to send your return to the IRS until October 16.
But there’s another date you should keep in mind: January 23. That’s the date the IRS will begin accepting 2016 returns, and filing as close to that date as possible could protect you from tax identity theft.
Why early filing helps
In an increasingly common scam, thieves use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns electronically and claim bogus refunds. This is usually done early in the tax filing season. When the real taxpayers file, they’re notified that they’re attempting to file duplicate returns.
A victim typically discovers the fraud after he or she files a tax return and is informed by the IRS that the return has been rejected because one with the same Social Security number has already been filed for the same tax year. The IRS then must determine who the legitimate taxpayer is.
Tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the tax return filed by a potential thief that will be rejected — not yours.
Another important date
Of course, in order to file your tax return, you’ll need to have your W-2s and 1099s. So another key date to be aware of is January 31 — the deadline for employers to issue 2016 W-2s to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue 1099s to recipients of any 2016 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.
Delays for some refunds
The IRS reminded taxpayers claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit to expect a longer wait for their refunds. A law passed in 2015 requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming these credits until at least February 15.
An additional benefit
Let us know if you have questions about tax identity theft or would like help filing your 2016 return early. If you’ll be getting a refund, an added bonus of filing early is that you’ll be able to enjoy your refund sooner.
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Everyone from major donors to grantmakers, charity watchdog groups to the government, will read your not-for-profit’s annual report and use it to make important decisions affecting your organization. So you need to make sure it’s professional, substantive and accurate — and interesting enough to grab and keep readers’ attention.
Cover the basics well
Most nonprofit annual reports consist of several standard sections, including:
Chairman of the Board’s letter. This executive summary should provide an overview of your nonprofit’s activities, accomplishments and anything else worth highlighting.
Directors and officers list. Make sure all names, professional affiliations and designations are accurate and spelled correctly.
Financial information. This generally is subdivided into three sections:
- The independent auditor’s report, which states the CPA’s opinion about whether your nonprofit’s financial statements have been prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
- The financial statements, which include a Statement of Financial Position (assets, liabilities and net asset categories as of the last day of the fiscal year), Statement of Activities (revenues earned and expenses incurred during the year) and Statement of Cash Flows (changes, sources and uses of cash for the year).
- The footnotes, which expand on financial statement items regarding such subjects as leasing arrangements and debt.
You can make your financial statements easier to understand by creating an abbreviated version with a synopsis that quickly gets to the heart of the matter. Where applicable, use simple graphs and diagrams to highlight specific points.
The “Description” is the other major section in a typical annual report, and it’s where you can — and should — get creative. First, explain your organization’s mission, goals and strategies for reaching those goals. Then, describe who benefits from your organization’s services and how they contribute to the community.
So that your report does justice to this work, include client testimonials where those you’ve helped tell the story in a personal way. Or create a timeline that enables readers to see the progress you’ve made toward a long-term goal.
Your annual report should be as visually pleasing as it is interesting to read, with engaging photos, arresting graphics and creative layouts. Make sure your graphic designer has experience with annual reports — preferably those of nonprofits — and understands the values and image your organization wants to convey.
Make it powerful
Some of your nonprofit’s communications are of interest only to a small group of your supporters. But most of your constituents will read your annual report, so invest the time and make it something they’ll enjoy reading. Contact us for more information.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Tommye Barie, one of our partners in the Bradenton office, was recently elected to represent the United States on the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Board of Directors. IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. In that respect, IFAC supports development, promotion, and enforcement of high-quality internationally recognized standards for (a) auditing and assurance; (b) education; (c) ethics; and (d) public sector accounting.
IFAC currently has members in 130 countries representing approximately 2.8 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce. Tommye holds one of 23 Board seats comprised of people from all parts of the world. She will also serve as a member of IFAC’s Audit Committee.
Job well done Tommye!
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
Community Service is one of our Firm’s Core Values. M&J especially values community service and charitable giving during the holiday season. Take a look at what we’ve been up to in recent months to help our communities and spread some holiday cheer.
Chattanooga: Our Chattanooga office gathered boxed and canned food for the Chattanooga Food Bank from late November to early December.
A total of 17 staff and family members formed the M&J team for the Grateful Gobbler 5K Run/Walk held on Thanksgiving morning, supporting the Maclellan Shelter for Families. Way to burn some calories before those turkey dinners!
The Chattanooga office also celebrated their United Way campaign success with a potluck luncheon on December 15th, and the food was delicious.
Albany: The Albany team raised an impressive $1,265 for Toys for Tots this year through generous donations, in addition to donations generated from casual dress days.
The Albany Partners also sponsored a table at the Mission Change “Annual LOL Comedy Night.” Bradley Abell, Haley Janousek, Bo Wright, and Blair and Ty Blackburn enjoyed some laughs while supporting a good cause. Net proceeds benefited the various programs of Mission Change, used to help better the community.
Bradenton: For the past few years the Bradenton office has participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. This year, 15 “angels” were adopted. Bags full of clothes, shoes and toys were collected to assist families in need. The employees enjoyed shopping for the kids, knowing their contributions made a difference.
Birmingham: The Birmingham crew hosted a Thanksgiving food drive benefiting the food pantry at the Salvation Army of Birmingham.
Atlanta: Atlanta is proud to report the status of their annual United Way Campaign. The office surpassed their goal by $1,265, raising a total of $10,865 for the year. The team will celebrate with cupcakes during an office meeting on January 16th.
The Atlanta staff also contributed to the Midtown Assistance Center. 30 children were sponsored, and with the help of a few extra secret santas, M&J provided a tablet to every child who had one on their wish list.
Macon: The Macon office is gearing up for community service activities in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Great work M&j’ers!
“Community Service – We are committed to serving and providing leadership to our profession, our industries, the university systems, and our communities.”
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
We can’t wait to work with and get to know all of these amazing folks!
Sunday, January 1st, 2017
Well done to some very hard working M&J employees for earning these new promotions!