Jan 10 2017
With the New Year underway, we are on the brink of beginning the fifth season of the year, known to most as “tax season”. With tax season, looming change is in the air. During the summer of 2016, Congress passed legislation that changed the due dates for some of the most popular tax returns. In addition, there were changes enacted that affected the extension periods for some returns.
Traditionally, all calendar year-end corporate tax returns have been due by March 15th ..
Dec 27 2016
Imagine after sending in your annual tax return, you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service. The notice says that another return has already been filed using your name and Social Security number claiming a refund. Sound impossible? It can happen if you become one of a growing number of victims of tax return identity theft. According to one estimate, tax-related identity theft cases have soared more than 650% since 2008.
Know the warning signs: Be alert to possible tax-related i..
Dec 13 2016
Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A.’s employees, Sabrina Cook and Jennifer Queen, along with their husbands, attended the 10th Annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction on November 19, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza in Hickory. This fundraiser showcases the culinary excellence of the Carolina Foothills’ finest chefs and brings an opportunity for attendees to take part in a silent auction or in live auction packages.
Several local chefs participated by preparing their..
Nov 29 2016
Be aware of the new filing deadline of January 31st for W-2, W-3, and some 1099-MISC forms for the 2016 tax year. The only 1099-MISC forms affected are those which report amounts in box 7 for non-employee compensation. Previously, employers were required to distribute the appropriate forms to employees by January 31st and to the corresponding governmental agencies by February 28th (or March 31st if filed electronically). Beginning with the 2017 filing season, the deadline for submission o..
Nov 29 2016
Holidays are a time for family, food, and sharing. Among the many stories in our community, we have a very special one this season that we hope warms your heart.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Amanda Holland, one of our Staff Accountants, served on the Leadership Committee of The Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The dinner began on Thanksgiving Day eighteen years ago, and Amanda has been involved ever since. This year, The Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which is coordinated out of the ..
Nov 15 2016
Individuals and families can buy private health insurance through affordable insurance exchanges, which are marketplaces where individuals can shop for private health insurance. Individuals making purchases through an exchange, may be eligible for a tax credit.
The credit is aimed at middle-income individuals and families. A larger credit is available for older individuals whose coverage costs may be higher. The credit will be refundable, which means it can be used by people who p..
Nov 15 2016
Employees of Martin Starnes and Associates CPA's, P.A. (MSA) employees and their family members participated in the Hickory Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This event is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, and The Hickory Walk took place at L.P. Frans Stadium in late October. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the largest event to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
The Alzheimer’s Associa..
Nov 1 2016
Anyone with college students knows the importance of early tax return completion. However, it is still sometimes stressful wondering whether all of the tax documents have been received in order to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). There is good news for parents and students alike because the 2017- 2018 FAFSA® has been available since October 1, 2016 instead of January 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change. No more scramb..
Oct 17 2016
With only a couple of months left in the year, many retirees who are older than 70 and ½ years of age are required by the Internal Revenue Code to take distributions from their Individual Retirement Accounts, often referred to as Required Minimum Distributions. Each year, these same individuals are also heavily relied on to assist with funding efforts by non-profit entities within our communities.
Prior to 2006, these individuals were required to receive income from their retire..
Oct 4 2016
If you believe that you would not be subject to a tax scheme, think again! Scammers continue to change their tactics in order to trick, lie, and scare their way to your money. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has seen an increase in the amount of “robo-calls” with messages urging taxpayers to return calls before legal actions are taken. The slew of calls may come in disguise with different agendas, but one thing holds true: The IRS is not going to call you to demand immediate p..
Sep 17 2016
NCACPA, in partnership with the AICPA and its Women’s Initiatives Committee, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Women to Watch Awards. These awards recognize women who have made significant contributions to the accounting profession, to their organizations, and to the development of women CPAs as leaders.
NCACPA would like to thank you for nominating your candidate. This year, we received 18 nominations, nominating 5 emerging and 13 experienced women. The caliber of the..
Sep 16 2016
I will start with this statement from Ervk Voelker “at a professional/enterprise level, the risks are too great to go unpatched.”
In reading a recent article on the pros and cons of Windows updates. There were a lot of statements made that we need to take a second look at. The writer crafted an argument that stated: “They are not as important as other good computing practices”, such as downloading from trusted sources, good anti-virus and maintenance. Yes, all go..
Sep 16 2016
Part of our responsibilities as CPA’s include continued professional education. It is required of us, not only to maintain our competence, but to be able to provide more quality professional services. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) changed the standards for CPE providers as well as NASBA’s Fields of Study document. Under new standards that took effect September 1, 2016, CPAs will now be able to receive ..
Sep 07 2016
Several employees here at Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs, PA (MSA) recently volunteered at the Humane Society of Catawba County. Upon our arrival, we were met by the friendly staff and explained just a few of the wonderful volunteer opportunities available – such as cat cuddling, dog walking, cleaning, and various administrative tasks. We thoroughly enjoyed our day assisting at the shelter. The highlights for us were many and included walking and playing with the awesome dogs i..
Aug 20 2016
Is your child or someone you know going to college this Fall? If so, you may receive some tax savings on your federal tax return. There are two tax credits that you may qualify for on your 2016 individual income tax return: the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Both credits can reduce the tax you owe, and the AOTC may be partially refundable. To learn about the specifics for each of these credits please see link below.
American Opportunity Tax Cre..
Aug 9 2016
Are you in the market for a new car? Is that jalopy you are driving giving you pause as to whether or not it will make it through another winter? There is good news, if you are in the market for a new car there are provisions now that allow you to purchase a car and get a tax break. Below are details about the program and how it works. I will even give you a resource for a comprehensive list of makes and models with the qualifying tax breaks.
Each of us has heard time and again tha..
Jul 25 2014
Why are we talking taxes? Tax season is over, right? Well, some of you will have a different filing deadline next year. Legislation, signed into law in July 2015, changed the due date for some filers. These changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. For most, that means 2016 tax returns, prepared in 2017.
Partnerships will now be due the 15th day of the third month (for calendar year partnerships, March 15). Previously, these had to be filed by the 1..
Jul 25 2014
The Office of Management Budget, under federal agencies’ guidance, has released its “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards” known as the Uniform Guidance (UG). The former Office of Management Budget circulars were combined to form the Uniform Guidance. The date it became effective was December 26, 2014. New grants, that were awarded by the federal government, and additional funding of existing awards after this dat..
Jul 11 2016
A wage garnishment is any legal procedure where a portion of a person’s earnings are withheld by an employer for payment of alimony, child support, the default of a student loan, or unpaid taxes.
For most garnishments, the amount of pay garnished should be based on an employee’s disposable earnings, the amount remaining after legally mandated deductions. The amount of wages that can be garnished vary depending on the originating cause. Maximum amounts have been seen at a ra..
Jun 24 2016
With another school year coming to an end, many students will be starting summer jobs which provide a great opportunity to improve their work ethic and time management skills as well as gain more responsibility financially. As with any job; however, students working over the summer are not exempt from paying their fair share to Uncle Sam. Below is a list of tips to assist you and your teenager in planning for tax time as they begin their summer job: Understand the Rules for Claiming Depende..
Jun 23 2016
End of Grade testing (EOGs) may be over for the 5th graders at Clyde Campbell Elementary School but that doesn’t mean learning has to end. Employees of Martin Starnes and Associates, CPA’s, P.A. (MSA) recently led a game of FETCH! in several classes, including Ms. Ollis’ class. FETCH!, which stands for Financial Education Teaches Children Healthy Habits, is a game developed by The Ohio CPA Foundation and The Ohio Society of CPAs to teach children the importance of money man..
Jun 3 2016
On Friday, June 3rd the staff of MSA gathered for staff retreat. Staff retreat is held semi-annually and serves as a great opportunity for everyone who is a part of the MSA organization to spend some time together discussing current happenings within the firm, as well as taking part in continuing education. This 2016 Summer Retreat featured continuing education on Leadership Training for All Generations conducted by Patricia Hatley. Ms. Hatley’s experience includes over 40 years in ..
Jun 8 2016
Many taxpayers are unaware of the First-Time Penalty Abatement (FTA) options that are available both with the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue. These programs are not well publicized, but can be a source of significant savings for normally compliant taxpayers. The waiver is available to both individuals and businesses for failure-to-file, failure-to-pay, and failure-to-deposit penalties. Unfortunately this particular relief is not available for the es..
May 24 2016
Income tax, self-employment tax, social security tax, net investment income tax and the list goes on; it is often difficult to understand the various taxes imposed by the Federal, State, and Local governments. It would take a novel to describe them all, but we will dig deeper into one, often confusing tax, known as self-employment tax.
Self-employment tax consists of Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed individuals. The terms are often used interchangeably when consult..
May 17 2016
Employees of Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) participated in the Second Annual MSA Golf Tournament on Saturday, May 7nd at Ole Still Golf Club in Hickory. Twelve staff members signed up to play, and other employees went along to cheer them on.
It was a delightful day in the sun, and the round began with eight balls sailing out of bounds from the first tee! The skins format with rotating partners was used to generate friendly competition for the occasion, and all but..
Apr 25 2016
On Tuesday, April 12, the Senate's Finance Committee convened to examine the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) current and future cybersecurity plans. The Committee, made up of 24 Senators from 22 states, discussed what improvements might be utilized to further protect sensitive taxpayer information from cybercriminals.
The Committee chairman was quoted saying "… We have [seen] unprecedented growth in the scope and scale of cyberattacks aimed at stealing personal information and b..
Apr 13 2016
Effective March 23, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Notice 2016-27, once again extending the deadline for executors and other persons to complete and file Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property from a Decedent. The IRS now grants a further delay to June 30, 2016.
The Notice comes on the heels of the proposed regulations, issued by the IRS on March 4, 2016, that clarified and expanded upon the new basis reporting requirements imposed under Se..
Apr 5 2016
The April 18th tax filing deadline is fast approaching. Instead of rushing to file your return by the first due date, you should consider the option to file for an automatic six month extension. There are many reasons an extension can be helpful or necessary. Many taxpayers fear that extending their return will be a red flag for audits, but the truth is that millions are processed every year with no greater risk. In fact, there can actually be some important advantages for opting to extend ..
Mar 09 2016
In an effort to streamline its guidance on grants management, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has raised the threshold for OMB A-133 compliance audits (Federal Single Audits). The threshold was set at $500,000 for federal awards and now has been raised to $750,000 per fiscal year. This will eliminate the burden of some smaller entities that are receiving only a small portion of federal funding by increasing the threshold that triggers compliance audits.
When determining major ..
Mar 1st 2016
On January 11, 2016, North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) issued an important notice regarding the repeal of installation charges exemption from sales tax.
Subsequent to that notice on February 5, 2016, the NCDOR issued Directive SD-16-1 and Directive SD-16-2 to direct taxpayers on how to comply with these new regulations.
As of March 1, 2016, businesses may be required to collect sales tax on repair, maintenance, and installation services depending on the taxpayer type (i.e..
Feb 2 2016
Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. is proud to announce the promotions of Susan Bruce to Payroll Manager, Tracie Dagenhart to Audit Services Coordinator, and Debbie Wike to Senior Administrative Assistant.
Susan Bruce has been promoted from Executive Administrative Assistant to Payroll Manager. She joined the firm in February 1999 and has held various positions. Susan lives in Taylorsville with her daughter, Amelia.
Tracie Dagenhart has be..
Mar 10 2015
Now that the new year is well underway and everyone is settling into a normal routine, it may be a good time to evaluate your overall financial standing to search for areas of improvement. Too often we get ourselves into a rut thinking that everything is working, and nothing needs to be changed. A simple check-up of your finances could save you a substantial amount of money in the following year. Below are some areas you can visit, as part of your annual financial evaluation:
Mar 10 2015
On Monday, March 2 the Council on Adolescents hosted Smart Girls Night Out which was held in the media center of River Bend Middle School. The event, decorated perfectly in pink, was a night where middle school girls, ages 10 - 13 and a female parent, guardian, or other mentor enjoyed a night of dinner, pampering and fun. This event was planned to celebrate 18 middle school girls who successfully completed the Smart Girls Program coordinated by the Council on Adolescents.
The event began wi..
Mar 3 2015
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued ASU 2015-01, "Simplifying Income Statement Presentation by Eliminating the Concept of Extraordinary Items", which is intended to "identify, evaluate, and improve areas of [U.S.] GAAP for which cost and complexity can be reduced while maintaining or improving the usefulness of the information provided to users of financial statements." Eliminating extraordinary items from the Income Statement will allow the entity the option to forgo from..
Mar 3 2015
Contract labor or employee? Many business owners find themselves asking this question. To help clarify, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came up with Common Law Rules to help characterize the degree of control and independence of hired workers. These two factors are critical in distinguishing between the two. Listed below are the Common Law Rules from the IRS website:
1. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or ..
Feb 24 2015
The Catawba County Chamber of Commerce held their annual membership luncheon on February 18, 2015 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. Several employees from Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. attended this annual meeting, along with many other chamber members from across the Catawba County region.
The 2015 luncheon included a welcome and recognition of board members by John Teeter (Immediate Past Chairman of the Board), an invocation by Rev. Matt Hearn, and remarks from Dann..
Feb 24 2015
For years, the Boston Marathon has held such a prestigious honor for runners from around the world. It was for some, a once in a lifetime chance and for others, a life long passion. April 15, 2013 marked the 117th Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual running event. The day was beautiful – sunny, without a cloud in sight; that is until approximately 2:49 pm when two bombs went off near the finish line. The blasts instantly created a day of horror and fear as people scrambled for their..
Feb 17 2015
Twice a year, Martin Starnes & Associates CPAs, P.A. (MSA) holds a firm retreat for all staff. Retreats have varied from team building at a ropes course to breaking barriers karate-style with wooden boards. Although the activity may change, the purpose is always the same: how can MSA be the best that we can be? On February 5th, MSA held its first retreat for 2015 featuring Denise Ryan of Firestar Speaking.
A self-described "motivational pyromaniac," Denise is an award winning North Car..
Feb 10 2015
Everyone looks for ways to make their work life simpler and more efficient. One way we can do this is by use of applications "apps" for our smartphones and tablets. There are many apps available that meet different needs of accountants and business professionals. Here are a few apps to consider for making your work life better:
Dropbox is an app used for document sharing. When a document is saved to Dropbox on your desktop, then the document can be accessed, viewed and updat..
Jan 27 2014
Zachary Triplett recently joined the Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) Tax team. He graduated from Appalachian State University (ASU) in December, 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. He plans to enroll in an MBA program at ASU in the near future and hopes to obtain his CPA certification shortly afterward.
While attending ASU, Zachary worked at Samaritan's Purse and also worked full-time at Walmart. He is very excited to learn new things and..
Jan 13 2015
The Catawba Valley Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA) recently held its annual Holiday Social, at Market on Main in Hickory, NC. In conjunction with the event, the Chapter hosted a fundraiser event to accept donations for the Burke United Christian Ministries (BUCM) in Morganton, NC. Members in attendance were asked to bring food donations to support the local charity. Employees of Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) attended the ..
Jan 13 2015
Every year, business owners who use an automobile for business driving, deduct the actual expenses attributable to their business use. In doing so, a business owner must choose between writing off automobile expenses by either taking the actual expenses incurred or taking a standard mileage rate. Either option requires the business owner to keep track of particular data, in order to claim the expense on their tax return. With the recent decrease in gas prices, it might be ad..
Jan 6 2015
Innovate Catawba, which was created through the vision of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, was designed to foster economic transformation through innovation. It is a collaboration of 6 different workgroups: inspiring, reinventing, building, entrepreneurs, workforce, and leading. Evidence of several of the Innovate Catawba building projects are visible around the area, but there is also a lot of work being done behind the scenes.
Under the Leadership Development Focus Area, there ..
Dec 30 2014
On Friday, December 12th, employees and guests from Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) participated in an annual Christmas luncheon to celebrate the Holiday!
The luncheon was held at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover. The feast included hors d'oeuvres followed by delicious entrees and a wide variety of desserts. Following lunch, MSA employees and guests played "Dirty Santa". The gifts were purchased and wrapped by MSA's Christmas Committee prior to the event so that only..
Dec 30 2014
Employees from Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) spread Christmas cheer on Thursday, December 18th at Walmart in Hickory by collecting donations for The Salvation Army. Michael Edwards, Cindy Henline, Mia Snipes, Jeremy Fortner, and Susan Bruce worked the event and represented MSA well. Proceeds from this campaign put gifts of food and clothing under trees and hot food on the tables of those less fortunate in our local area.
The Salvation Army began using a red ket..
Dec 17 2014
The Senate passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which revives more than 50 expired tax breaks. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. Included is a new type of savings program designed to help disabled individuals. Here is a brief overview of the tax breaks that have been extended, as well as details about the new Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. Click here to read the article. (http://www.bizactions.com/index.cfm/ba/e130/ra/54150081G2007J6961895)..
Dec 8 2014
Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. is thrilled to announce being named as one of the 2014 Accounting Today's Best Accounting Firms to Work for, ranking 9th among medium sized firms. Accounting Today has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees.
This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best employers in the accounting industry, benefiting the industry's economy,..
Dec 8 2014
Lake Hickory Country Club
The United Arts Council of Catawba County recently held the 2014 Jingle Bell BASH (Benefitting Arts, Science, and History) at the Lake Hickory Country Club, and several Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) employees were in attendance. More than 20 restaurants and caterers donated a variety of delicious food to enjoy at the event. By purchasing a ticket, participants had the opportunity to win cash prizes starting from $500 up to the grand prize of $15,000! A silent auction was ..
Dec 7 2014
Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. (MSA) and the City of Hickory recently co-sponsored the 2014 Hickory Young Professionals' Top 10 Under 40 banquet at Rock Barn Golf & Spa. Nominees were required to be under the age of 40 and to be employed or reside in Catawba, Caldwell, Burke, or Alexander counties. Additionally, community involvement and making positive impacts in the greater Hickory area as well as focusing on career advancement were also areas of consideration. All nominat..
Dec 7 2014
Employer Payment Plans are defined as reimbursements from an employer for an employee's substantiated premiums for non-employer sponsored medical insurance. The definition also includes payments made directly to the insurance company on behalf of the employee for an individual medical insurance policy. These Employer Payments Plans are in violation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unless the employer also provides a qualifying ACA medical plan along with the payment plan. The penalty for suc..