News and Updates

News and Events

Aug 9 2016

Tax Breaks for Buying a Car! Who knew?

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

Tax Talk: Tax Filing Deadline Changes

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

Uniform Guidance and Additional Noteworthy Changes

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

Are You Prepared to Handle an Employee’s Wage Garnishments?

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

Summer Jobs are in Full Swing: We have Student Tax Tips to Help!

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

Playing FETCH at Clyde Campbell Elementary

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

MSA Annual Retreat

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

Benefiting from the First-Time Penalty Abatement

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

Understanding Self-Employment Tax

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

MSA 2nd Annual Golf Tournament

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

Senate Challenges IRS to Strengthen Cybersecurity

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

IRS extends the due date for estate basis reporting.

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

Filing an extension might be good for you

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

OMB raising threshold that triggers compliance audits.

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

Changes on Sales Tax Imposed on Repair, Maintenance and Installation

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

MSA Promotions

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

Is it Time to Evaluate Your Overall Financial Standing?

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: Monthly Recurr..
Mar 10 2015

MSA Participates in Smart Girls Night Out!

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

FASB Issues Accounting Standards Update

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 or Labor Employee?

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

MSA Attends Chamber Luncheon

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

MSA Supports Boston Marathon Team MR8

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

MSA Winter Retreat Was on FIRE!

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

There's An App for That!

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: 1. Dropbox 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

Meet Our New Tax Staff Accountant

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

MSA Attends NCACPA Annual Holiday Social

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

2015 Mileage Rates Released by IRS

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

MSA Employee Takes Part in Emerging Leadership Development Program

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

MSA Celebrates the Christmas Season

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

MSA Employees Spread Christmas Cheer

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

Congress Passes Tax Extenders Bill

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. (
Dec 8 2014

MSA Ranked One of the Best Accounting Firms to Work for

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

MSA Attends Jingle Bell Bash

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

MSA Employee Named Top 10 Under 40

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

Avoiding the $100 Per Day Penalty under the ACA

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..

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Hickory, NC 28602
Tel: 828.327.2727
Fax: 828.328.2324
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Taylorsville, NC 28681
Tel: 828.632.9025
Fax: 828.632.9085
PO Box 5729,
Statesville, NC 28687
1710 Wilkesboro Highway,
Statesville, NC 28625
Tel: 704.872.8923
Fax: 704.872.4982

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