Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Keeping Your Passwords Protected

From Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith, the IRS has published tips on the topic of protecting your passwords. Much of the public uses the same password over and over again on their different accounts online. This is partially why a single successful phishing scam can be so devastating, because when they get a password for one of your accounts it is likely that password will work on another.

For this reason, new stronger standards are being implemented in tax software products for 2016. Those standards include:

  • A password that has eight or more characters, including upper case, and lower case letters as well as numbers and a special character.
  • New features include a timed lockout and limits on unsuccessful log-in attempts.
  • You must complete three security questions.
  • Tax software partners must verify email addresses. In many cases, this means a PIN will be sent to your email or text that you must use to verify your address before you can proceed with your tax software.

These are just a few of the new protections that will be in place for the 2016 tax season to protect you from identity thieves. Most of the protections we are taking may not be visible to you, but they will add layers of protection nonetheless, adding new and stronger protections during tax time.

While these are changes that are being implemented in tax software, it would be a good idea to think about these standards with all passwords that you create.
You can contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith by phone at 502-896-2999, or through their website contact form

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Seven Steps for Making Identity Protection Part of Your Regular Routine

From Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith, the IRS has recently published seven steps for making identity protection part of your routine. Identity theft can be incredibly traumatic and frustrating. And in this day and age, it's always best to be on your guard against it.

Here are their seven tips on keeping yourself protected:

1. Regularly read your credit card and banking statements. Keep and eye out for anything that looks remotely suspicious. Keep in mind that neither your credit card nor bank – or the IRS – will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information such as asking you to update your account.

2. Review and respond to all correspondences and notices from the IRS. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.  

3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit to get your free reports.

4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at

5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.

6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your social security number, in the trash.

7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administrator or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.

To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together. You also can read Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.

You can also contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith PLLC at 502-896-2999, or through our website contact form.

Friday, December 4, 2015

IRS: Five Common Questions from Taxpayers

From Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith, the IRS has released five common questions that they receive from taxpayers, along with the answers.

1. What is included in household income?
"For purposes of the PTC, household income is the modified adjusted gross income of you and your spouse if filing a joint return, plus the modified AGI of each individual in your tax family whom you claim as a dependent and who is required to file a tax return because their income meets the income tax return filing threshold. Household income does not include the modified AGI of those individuals you claim as dependents and who are filing a return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax."

2. The IRS is asking to see my 1095-A. What should I do?
"You should follow the instructions on the correspondence that you received from the IRS.  You may be asked for a copy of Form 1095-A in order to verify information that has been entered on your tax return."

3. If I got advance payments of the PTC, do I have to file even if I never had a filing requirement before?
"Yes. If you received the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit, you must file a tax return to reconcile the amount of advance credit payments made on your behalf with the amount of your actual premium tax credit.  You must file a return and submit a Form 8962 for this purpose even if you are otherwise not required to file a return."

4. Marketplace says I did not file, but I did file before the extended due date.  What should I do?
"In advance of the open enrollment period that runs through January 31, 2016, the Marketplace sent Marketplace Open Enrollment and Annual Redetermination letters to individuals who might not have filed a tax return. Follow the instructions in the letter you received."

5. What are my options to receive help with filing a return and reconciling?
"Filing electronically is the easiest way to file a complete and accurate tax return as the software guides you through the filing process. Electronic filing options include free Volunteer Assistance, IRS Free File, commercial software, and professional assistance."

For more information from the IRS, check out their website at
You can also contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith PLLC at 502-896-2999, or through our website contact form.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tax Planning Strategies for the Year's End

From Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith...
The year is coming to an end, and the Journal of Accountancy has published some tips on last minute tax planning strategies.
According to the Journal of Accountancy, "Taxpayers who have been sitting on the sidelines due to the lack of certainty on the expanded Section 179 deduction, bonus depreciation, the R&D credit and other items normally renewed in an extender package need to take action soon, according to Michael Silvio, director of tax services at Hall & Co. CPAs."

Their last minute strategies include:

1) A Hierarchy of Planning
"Last-minute tax issues could be things that can be done by the end of the year before it’s too late to do them, or could be things that can still be done up to the time you file the tax return or later, to get a better result for that prior year, according to Matthew Frooman, a member at the Atlanta office of Top 100 Firm Warren Averett."

2) New Due Dates
"For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015, the due dates for partnership tax returns will change from April 15 for calendar-year partnerships to March 15, and the fifteenth day of the third month after the end of the fiscal year for fiscal-year partnerships. The due date for C corporations will be April 15, or the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the close of their year. S corporation return due dates continue to be March 15, or the third month following the close of the taxable year."

3) Extender Watch 
"The tax extenders have historically been passed, so we have to plan for the fact that they will be passed, advised Gary Fox, managing partner of tax services at Top 100 Firm Crowe Horwath."

4) Hoping for Better
"Next filing season can’t be as bad as the previous one, according to Rick Wojciechowski of Top 100 Firm The Bonadio Group: 'Provided the extenders get passed earlier than they did for 2014, it should be better. Plus, the tangible property regs are better understood now. But we do have layering of the ACA, which affects business clients. CPAs need to communicate the rules to their clients.'"

You can check out the full article at the Journal of Accountancy.
You can also contact Neikirk, Mahoney & Smith PLLC at 502-896-2999, or through our website contact form.