Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thomson Reuters Releases Report on IRS Examinations

BY MICHAEL COHN, Accounting Today

Thomson Reuters has released a special report for tax professionals on how to respond to Internal Revenue Service examinations.

The report, Handling the Increasingly Common Automated IRS Examination, examines two compliance programs used by the IRS to address underreporting: the correspondence examination, also known as the “corr exam,” and the automated underreporter, or AUR, program.

In fiscal year 2013, the IRS conducted over 1 million corr exams and closed 4.1 million AUR cases, compared to 344,000 field exams, according to the report.

The report discusses these compliance programs, addresses problems associated with automated examinations, and offers step-by-step guidance on how to respond to a letter or notice from the IRS.

Read more

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Are you ready - really ready - to retire?

If you are, please accept a big pat on the back! But if you're like most people, you aren't ready.

Scary thought, huh? A couple or three thousand bucks a month if you've worked hard all your life and less if you haven't. If you're married, you can double it.

You're not going to buy any yachts with that kind of income but you won't starve or waste away on the streets...which is why Social Security is around in the first place. No politician wants to see old folks dying of starvation or malnutrition - kinda ruins the chances of re-election. So we have Social Security.

And it's a darn good thing we have it because we as a culture are pretty bad at saving money these days. And baby boomers like the author are worried.

I was surprised when a close friend was critical of people who draw Social Security retirement. He said it was leeching off working people. I reminded him that was his money, not the "working people's" money. That didn't change his opinion, though. It was too deeply ingrained.

But this is not a debate about Social Security. It's a discussion about your retirement savings and the first thing we should examine is making the determination as to how much money you're going to need. Here's a great retirement planning calculator - along with a library of additional financial calculators - that may help, at http://nmscpas.com/resources.

Accounting Today had an interested article by Michael Cohn  yesterday in which he reports some interesting recent (May 14 - 19, 2014) Harris Poll numbers.

"Three-quarters of Americans are worried about having enough money for retirement, according to a new survey that found three out of 10 Americans are not saving for later years.

"However, 69 percent of the 2,286 adults surveyed by the Harris Poll say planning for retirement is a key priority to them. Only 35 percent say they have faith in Social Security being there when they retire. That figure drops to 27 percent of Millennials and 30 percent of Gen Xers.

"While 39 percent of Millennials indicated they are saving for retirement, 62 percent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers say they are.  Millennials are also more likely then the three older generations to be saving money for a car purchase (24 percent vs. 11 percent, 10 percent and 15 percent) and a home purchase (24 percent vs. 7 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent).

"About 69 percent of Americans say they are currently putting money toward any savings. One reason for those who aren’t may be that 46 percent of unretired U.S. adults say they live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to put money in savings. Among those saving, the top goals are rainy-day funds for unexpected costs (65 percent) and retirement (52 percent). Those who are saving are also doing so for other reasons, with 31 percent saving for a vacation.

"Health care is another worry for Americans, with 67 percent saying they worry about being able to afford unexpected health care costs. Among those who are not yet retired, 70 percent of the respondents said they worry about being able to pay for their health care costs when they retire.

Asked about what they would do if a sudden windfall of $100,000 came their way, 57 percent said they would use the money to pay off an existing debt and/or loans, while 42 percent would put the money into a rainy day fund and save for unexpected expenses. One-third (33 percent) of Americans would invest toward their retirement while over one in five would go on vacation (23 percent) or buy a car (21 percent).

Smaller numbers of U.S. adults said they would treat themselves to something they would not normally spend money on (16 percent), donate to charity (16 percent), buy a house (15 percent), pay for their kids' college (10 percent) and go back to school (6 percent).

If you are interested in setting up a retirement plan with the advice of experienced, knowledgeable CPAs, contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith. They can help put some reason behind the rhyme.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Check out our new calculators

Should you refinance your mortgage? What type of retirement account should you set up? As accounting professionals, these are some of the questions that are posed to us on a daily basis by our accounting firm's customers and clients. Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith is providing some interactive financial calculators and other tools to assist you with some of the day-to-day questions and concerns that may arise. While these financial tools are not a substitute for financial advice from a qualified professional, they can be used as a starting point in your decision making process.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GAO slaps IRS' internal controls

The Internal Revenue Service is suffering from several new deficiencies in its internal controls, although it has managed to address a number of older problems, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report comes in the midst of lingering questions over the IRS’s loss of two years of emails between the former director of its Exempt Organizations unit, Lois Lerner, and people outside the agency, after her computer crashed in 2011. The agency has been struggling with a series of budget cuts in recent years that have negatively affected taxpayer service.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the status of your own business' internal controls, contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith today!