Record Retention Guide – Business & Personal
Another year has come and gone and another year of tax forms and shoe boxes full of receipts is behind us. But what should be done with those documents created throughout the year?
Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they’re safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time. For those of us residing in the State of California the statute of limitation is four years. For the three year federal statute it starts from the extended due date of the tax return whereas the state four year starts from the original due date.
If the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be an indication of fraud, it can go back a total of six years in the case of an audit. So just to be on the safe side, use the following guidelines.
Business Document To Keep For One Year
• Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
• Duplicate Deposit Slips
• Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
• Receiving Sheets
Business Documents To Keep For Four Years (California Business)
• Bank Statements and Reconciliation’s
• Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
• Employment Applications
• Expired Insurance Policies
• General Correspondence
• Internal Audit Reports
• Internal Reports
• Petty Cash Vouchers
• Physical Inventory Tags
• Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
• Time Cards For Hourly Employees
Business Documents To Keep For Six Years
• Accident Reports, Claims
• Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
• Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
• Cancelled Checks
• Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
• Employment Tax Records
• Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
• Expired Contracts, Leases
• Expired Option Records
• Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
• Invoices to Customers
• Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
• Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
• Plant Cost Ledgers
• Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
• Sales & Sales Tax Records
• Subsidiary Ledgers
• Time Books
• Travel and Entertainment Records
• Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
• Voucher Register, Schedules
• Company auto usage information
Business Records To Keep Forever (this is critical)
While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records “forever,” in many cases there will be other reasons you’ll want to retain these documents indefinitely.
• Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
• Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
• Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
• Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
• Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
• Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
• Trust Deeds
• Depreciation Schedules
• Internal Financial Statements (Year End)
• Hard Copy of Detailed General Ledger for entire tax year
• Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
• Investment Trade Confirmations
• IRS Revenue Agents’ Reports
• Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
• Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
• Mortgages, Bills of Sale
• Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
• Property Records
• Retirement and Pension Records
• Business Tax Returns and Worksheets
• Trademark and Patent Registrations
• CPA Financial Statements (Audit/Review or Compilation Reports)
• Employee W-2s
Personal Document To Keep For One Year
• While it’s important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements forever, you don’t have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.
Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years
• Credit Card Statements
• Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
• Utility Records if home office deducted
• Expired Insurance Policies
Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years
• Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
• Bank & Savings account statements
• Check Registers (hand or computerized)
• Loan & mortgage statements
• Accident Reports and Claims
• Medical Bills (if tax-related)
• Sales Receipts
• Other Tax-Related Bills
• Personal Calendar to support business deductions
Personal Records To Keep Forever
• Legal Records
• Important Correspondence
• Personal Income Tax Returns
• Income Tax Payment Checks
• Investment Trade Confirmations
• Retirement and Pension Records
• Home Real Estate Purchase Documentation & improvements
• Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
• Credit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
• Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
• Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
• Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
• Property Records / improvement receipts (keep until property sold)
• Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
• Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
• Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
• Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
• Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)
Many popular but temporary tax incentives have been extended again by the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. Among them is Code Sec. 179 small business expensing, bonus depreciation, the research tax credit, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This letter provides some highlights of the 2014 Tax Prevention Act as it applies to business taxpayers.
Code Sec. 179 Small Business Expensing
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends the enhanced Code Sec. 179 small business expensing through 2014. Therefore, the Code Sec. 179 dollar limit for tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014 is $500,000 with a $2 million investment limit. The rule allowing off the shelf computer software is also extended. For tax years beginning after 2014, the dollar limit reverts to $25,000 with a $200,000 investment limit.
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2014. Some transportation and longer period production property is eligible for 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2015. Bonus depreciation has been used as an economic stimulus in many tax bills in recent years. One hundred percent bonus depreciation generally expired at the end of 2011 (with certain transportation and longer period production property eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation through 2012).
Bonus depreciation also relates to the dollar limitations on the depreciation deduction for the year in which a taxpayer places a passenger automobile in service within a business, and for each succeeding year. If bonus depreciation had not been extended, 2013 would have been the final year in which substantial first-year write-offs for the purchase of a business automobile were available.
To be eligible for bonus depreciation, qualified property must be depreciable under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and have a recovery period of 20 years or less. These requirements encompass a wide-variety of assets. The property must be new and placed in service before January 1, 2015 (January 1, 2016 for certain longer production period property and certain transportation property).
Subject to the investment limitations, Code Sec. 179 expensing remains a viable alternative, especially for small businesses. Property qualifying under Code Sec. 179 expensing may be used or new, in contrast to bonus depreciation’s “first-use” requirement.
Research Tax Credit
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends through 2014 the incremental research tax credit, which expired after 2013. Commonly called the research or research and development credit, the incremental research credit may be claimed for increases in business-related qualified research expenditures and for increases in payments to universities and other qualified organizations for basic research. The credit applies to excess of qualified research expenditures for the tax year over the average annual qualified research expenditures measured over the four preceding years.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends through 2014 the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which rewards employers that hire individuals from targeted groups with a tax credit. Under the revived WOTC, employers hiring an individual within a targeted group (generally, otherwise hard-to-employ workers) are eligible for a credit generally equal to 40 percent of first-year wages up to $6,000. The WOTC is part of the general business credit.
Qualified Leasehold/Retail Improvements, Restaurant Property
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends through 2014 the 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified retail improvements and qualified restaurant property. The cost of nonresidential real property is generally recovered under the modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS) using the straight-line method of depreciation over a recovery period of 39 years, using a mid-month convention. However, this incentive allows qualified leasehold improvement, restaurant and retail improvement property a reduced recovery period using the straight line method and half-year convention if placed into service within the specified time period.
S Corporation Built-In Gains Tax
An S corporation such as yours is a pass-through entity that is treated very much like a partnership for federal income tax purposes. As a result, income is generally passed through to the shareholders and taxed at their individual tax rates.
However, a corporate-level tax is imposed on an S corporation’s net recognized built-in gains attributable to assets held at the time it converted from a C corporation to an S corporation. The built-in gains tax also applies if an S corporation sells, during the recognition period, assets that were acquired in a carryover basis transaction; for example, a tax-free reorganization. To avoid the built-in gains tax, the S corporation must not sell the assets during the ten-year recognition period applicable to the assets.
The Tax Increase Prevention Act temporarily extends the reduced recognition period and eliminates the tax for net recognized built-in gains of S corporations if the fifth tax year in the ten-year recognition period precedes the 2014 tax year. The recognition period was initially reduced by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act) if the seventh year in the ten-year recognition period preceded the 2009 or 2010 tax years. Subsequently, the Creating Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (2010 Jobs Act) reduced the recognition period if the fifth year in the ten-year recognition period preceded the 2011 tax year. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (2012 Tax Relief Act) extended the five year reduced recognition period to 2012 and 2013.
The built-in gains tax can be triggered by downsizing or other business survival decisions, including the disposal of unused assets to raise needed cash. Consequently, the relief provided by the 2014 Tax Prevention Act and the previous legislation discussed above may be very valuable for small family or privately-owned businesses.
A number of other business tax incentives that were due to expire after 2013 are extended through 2014 under the 2014 Tax Prevention Act. They include, among others:
1. New Markets Tax Credit
2. Employer wage credit for activated military reservists
3. Subpart F exceptions for active financing income
4. Look through rule for related controlled foreign corporation payments
5. 100 percent exclusion for gain on sale of qualified small business stock
6. Enhanced deduction for charitable contributions of food inventory
7. Treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies (RICs)
8. Treatment of RICs as qualified investment entities
9. Basis adjustment to S corporation stock making charitable donations of property
The 2014 Tax Prevention Act has a significant impact on all taxpayers. If you have any questions about the extenders or how it affects you, please call our office (949) 910-4255 for an appointment. We will be happy to assist you.Posted in News, Tax | Comments Off
Brad Hall, Managing Director, was featured in the article “You Can’t Deduct Your Wedding and Other Things You Shouldn’t Be Expensing” for Mainstreet.com today.
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Why Should I Hire a CPA?
Why do you need a CPA?
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) act as trusted advisers to individuals, businesses, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations and government agencies on a wide range of financial matters. Today, many individuals and businesses turn to CPAs for help with tax preparation, tax planning, personal financial planning, financial statement audit services, and advice on developing effective accounting systems.
What can a CPA do for you?
CPAs are no longer just number crunchers and tax preparers. They are business and financial strategists who help chart the paths of businesses and individuals. Individuals turn to their CPAs for tax and financial planning services, investment advice, estate planning, and much more.
Businesses are tapping CPAs to not only manage finances and taxes, but also to determine profitable new product lines, help diversify investments, and provide a variety of other consulting and business services.
CPA vs. Non-CPA
Many people do not know how a CPA is different from a bookkeeper or tax preparer. The CPA designation is one of the most widely recognized and highly trusted professional designations in the business world. CPAs are distinguished from other finance professionals by stringent qualification and licensing requirements.
Individuals have worked hard to obtain the CPA designation, and they are committed to working even harder to deliver the value that it conveys.
What qualifications should you look for when choosing a CPA?
Before you select a CPA, make sure you consider the following questions:
• Does the individual hold an active CPA license?
• Are your needs compatible with the CPA’s personality and communication style?
• Does the CPA have the experience you need?
It’s important to establish a practitioner’s credentials before you retain his or her services. You need to feel that this person has integrity/ethics before you will trust him or her with your financial information.
Be aware that fee structures vary and that different types of practitioners have different levels of training and experience and the greater the experience typically the higher the value and therefore higher the rates.
Keep in mind that you are looking to establish a long-term relationship. You want someone who will learn your business inside and out, and who will become a trusted advisor on major business and financial decisions and transactions. Look not only for technical competence but also for interpersonal and communication skills.
Membership in a professional association is also an important qualification. Members of the California Society of CPAs are governed by a stringent code of professional ethics. Also, many larger CPA firms in California submit to Peer Review and must undergo a comprehensive review of their accounting and auditing practice every three years. Those that are PCAOB approved must submit to even higher outside review so that they can report on publicly traded companies. If you are thinking about taking your company public in the future this is something to consider now.
Defining your objectives and expectations will help you ask the kind of specific questions necessary for finding the CPA best suited to your needs. Think about the services you will need not just today but further down the road.
How do I choose a CPA?
When looking for a CPA, consider the following:
• Ask your lawyer, banker, insurance agent, or investment advisor for recommendations. Speak with colleagues in your field of business about CPAs they know and trust.
• Develop some of your own plans and objectives before you talk with a CPA. Gather information about business and personal financial decisions under consideration so you can ask specific questions.
• Make sure the CPA is licensed to practice in California.
• Ask what professional organizations the CPA belongs to and how active he or she is in those organizations. Many of these organizations require adherence to technical and professional standards, thereby helping to ensure the quality of a CPA’s services.
How can you get the most value from a CPA’s services?
When it comes to working with a CPA, you are in control. There are a variety of things you can do to get the most value out of your time and money spent with a CPA.
Before you even contact a CPA, be prepared with your goals and objectives of what you want the CPA to do for you. Have a list of questions and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
Before you meet with a CPA, gather all the documents and information you think you may need – past tax returns, financial statements, investment documents, business plans – and take this information with you to the first meeting.
Keep your CPA up-to-date on what’s happening in your life. Are you getting married, divorced, having children, needing to plan for your child’s college education, expanding a business, merging with another company, selling out or giving the business to your kids? You’d be surprised what life experiences can have a significant impact on your tax liability and personal financial goals.Posted in Accounting, Business Consulting, Tax | Comments Off
Average cortisol levels were lower in both men and women, single or married, parents or not, at work.
Picture a busy day at work: The phone is ringing, emails are piling up, co-workers are interrupting with questions and your boss is making last-minute requests.
That might just sound like a picnic compared with a day at home filled with chores, errands, meals and child care. Even for those with a happy family life, home sometimes can feel more taxing than work.
After decades of social scientists examining the corporate workplace and studying ways to improve it, experts now say being at work is good for our health. And there are aspects of work we might want to emulate at home.
In a new study, published online last month in Social Science & Medicine, researchers at Penn State University found significantly and consistently lower levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, in a majority of subjects when they were at work compared with when they were at home. This was true for both men and women, and parents and people without children.
The researchers randomly solicited 122 participants in a midsize northeastern U.S. city, which they declined to identify due to the university’s research privacy guidelines. All were over age 18 and worked outside the home five days a week within the 6 a.m.-to-7 p.m. time window.
The researchers taught the participants to test their own cortisol levels by swabbing the inside of a cheek, and gave each of them a palm device that prompted them to do it six times a day. At those times, they also reported where they were, how stressed they felt and how happy they were. The researchers looked only at participants’ levels of cortisol and not other hormones.
The majority of subjects had on average lower levels of cortisol at work than at home. It made no difference what their occupation was, whether they were single or married or even if they liked their job or not. One intriguing finding: The only participants who didn’t have lower levels of cortisol at work—their levels remained the same as at home—were those who earned more than $75,000 a year. (The researchers, who didn’t pursue that finding for this study, said they believe the salary bar would have been higher in a city with a more expensive standard of living.)
The study also found that while both parents and childless adults were less stressed at work, the difference was greater for people without children. Researchers say this may be because parents bring some home stress to work with them, or because children may help relieve stress at home.
Both men and women showed less stress at work. But women were more likely to report feeling happier there. Men were more likely to feel happier at home. The researchers say this may be because women still do more housework and child care and may feel they have less free time.
Experts say there are other reasons why work is less stressful than home for many. “Paid work is more valued in society,” says Sarah Damaske, assistant professor of labor and employment relations, sociology and women’s studies at Penn State, who was the lead researcher on the study. “Household work is monotonous and not particularly rewarding.”
We get better at our job with time (hopefully), and the increased competence means less stress and more rewards. Yet none of us, no matter how long we’ve been doing it, ever truly feels like an expert at parenting or even at marriage.
We are more likely to feel appreciated at work, Dr. Damaske says. At home many of our efforts go unnoticed. And let’s not forget: At work, we get paid. Imagine giving your family an invoice.
There is behavioral etiquette at work. No yelling, storming off or crying—at least, not if we want to keep our job and our colleagues’ respect. Support and friendship of co-workers offer stress relief. We may listen to others’ problems, but ultimately they aren’t our concern. At home, meanwhile, stress is contagious. “You can’t pause and say to your toddler, ‘Mommy needs a timeout,’ ” Dr. Damaske says.
Much of the advice to families and couples includes the warning to “leave work stress at the office” and even to build in a transition activity, such as a walk around the block, to change our mind-set from work to home. The recent findings, though, suggest our home life, not our attitude, might be due for some change.
Tara Kennedy-Kline, a family advocate and owner of a toy-distribution company, says on an evening or weekend she has been known to go to her warehouse and rearrange 1,500 boxes in a shipping container just to get away from her family’s requests of “What’s for dinner?” and “Where is my uniform?”
“I love my home and family, but there is just something about being able to walk away from the homework, dinner, karate, football, piano lessons, roller-skating transport and laundry folding, and retreat to my cold concrete warehouse,” says the 43-year-old, who lives in Shoemakersville, Pa.
So how can we make domestic life less stressful? “Make home a little more like work,” says Richard Levak, a Del Mar, Calif., psychologist
First, learn to set boundaries—just as when we are in our office or cubicle and we say no to a request that isn’t in our domain. Explain to children or a spouse that you need uninterrupted time alone. Help them rehearse what to do while you are unavailable. Create a place where they can write down what they want to tell you when they have the urge to interrupt, so you can read it together later.
Prepare for pushback. “Everyone will resist. They want access to you all the time,” Dr. Levak says. “You have to be mindful that your spouse or kids will feel rejected.” He suggests preparing them by telling them when and for how long you are planning to take a break.
Build down time into everyone’s schedule. Set aside specific times at home to relax and have fun, and make them inviolate. Plan a movie night. Put a regular exercise time on the calendar. Take a walk after dinner every evening.
People who live alone can fall into a stressful pattern of drifting around the house, doing small chores, checking the fridge, flipping channels on the TV—responding to stimuli but not focusing on a task, Dr. Levak says. “You have to envision some rewarding event and plan for it.”
If you want appreciation, try modeling that behavior. Bring your spouse coffee in bed. Give the children a treat when they’ve done something well. If you live alone, celebrate your own accomplishments (I like to take myself to lunch).
Time at home is usually unstructured, so chores can drag on endlessly. At work, we take scheduled breaks—for a quick walk, a cup of coffee or a laugh with a co-worker—which help us stay focused.
Create a greater sense of control at home by building in more structure, Dr. Levak says. Don’t watch TV mindlessly; record only what you care about and watch one evening a week. Sit down to meals at the table. Try not to answer email or texts after a certain time. “If you want to improve your level of happiness at home, you need to be as mindful of following a structure at home as you are at work,” Dr. Levak says.
(Above) Bradford and Janice Hall glitzed and glamed up for the Hollywood Glamour themed 2014 PBS SoCal Gala.
(Above & below) Bradford & Janice Hall joined by Todd & Julie Hollander looking amazing at the gala. The tuxes and gowns fit right in with the glamour theme.Uncategorized | Comments Off
BY RICHARD RUBIN
(Bloomberg) The U.S. House of Representatives voted to revive the tax credit for corporate research, expand it and make it permanent.
The 274-131 vote today follows calls to restore the credit by a coalition of companies including Texas Instruments Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. The measure faces significant obstacles before it can become law, including a veto threat from President Barack Obama.
The research credit was first enacted in 1981. Lawmakers said the lapse-and-revive cycle of the past 33 years has prevented companies from relying on it and thwarted its incentive effect.
“Businesses can’t grow and invest when the tax code is riddled with instability and uncertainty,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said on the House floor yesterday. “We’ve fallen far behind. Other countries are moving past the United States.”
The bill heads to the Senate, where lawmakers are taking a different approach. The differences between the House and Senate may take months to resolve.
Instead of separate votes to make individual tax benefits permanent, the Senate Finance Committee last month backed a single measure extending the research credit and dozens of other breaks through the end of 2015.
Other tax benefits in the Senate measure include the production tax credit for wind energy and a rule that lets General Electric Co., Citigroup Inc. and other companies defer U.S. taxation on overseas financing income.
That bill is scheduled to reach the Senate floor next week. There’s a “big question mark” about whether it will pass because of a dispute between Democrats and Republicans over which amendments, if any, should be allowed, said Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat.
The House vote involves contradictions for each party.
Republicans, who say Democrats’ proposed extension of unemployment insurance must be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, supported the tax bill though it would add $155.5 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade. The lack of offsets was part of the Obama administration’s rationale for the veto threat.
“When you put it on the credit card, at the end of the day somebody is paying for it,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat. The Senate bill contains no provisions to offset its cost.
Democrats, who had supported extending the tax credit in prior years without covering its costs, voted against the bill today though a number of them cosponsored it.
The bill is H.R. 4438.
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Hall & Company CPAs are proud to announce our new and improved website is live! You will see many new features such as links to our Social Media sites: Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and Google+, Financial Tools, new Careers and Industries Served pages. We are excited for the new site and hope you enjoy it!Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off
Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of
these articles, click on the link at the end of this e-mail.
IRS AUDITS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
There’s nothing good about being selected for an IRS audit.
At best it’s a time consuming nuisance, and at worst you’ll be
poorer in the end. But you can reduce your likelihood of being
audited, or if you are selected, of being billed.
IRS ISSUES “REPAIR REGULATIONS”
To expense or to capitalize? If you buy, build, or repair business
assets, you might ask that question when deciding whether your costs
are currently deductible on your federal income tax return or whether
they’re considered capital improvements.
WHAT CAN YOU DEDUCT WHEN CUSTOMERS DON’T PAY?
If you’re in business long enough, you’ll run into a customer who
doesn’t pay his bill. And despite your best efforts, you come to
the conclusion that it will never be paid.
IF YOU MAKE GIFTS, YOU MAY HAVE TO FILE A GIFT TAX RETURN
Are you planning to give sizeable gifts to family members this year?
Due to generous provisions in the tax code, you may not owe any federal
gift tax, but you still might be required to a file a gift tax return.
Just click on the link below to read the full articles.
Hall & Company CPAs Spring 2014 Client Update Newsletter
Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this e-mail.
HEALTH CARE REFORM LAW GETS UNDERWAY FOR INDIVIDUALS
Although the employer mandate for providing health insurance coverage to workers under the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) was postponed for one year – until January 1, 2015 – the rules for individuals remain in place, at least for the foreseeable future.
1099s: A LITTLE FORM WITH A PAINFUL BITE
When Congress tried unsuccessfully to expand the Form 1099 filing requirements a couple of years ago, at least one thing was accomplished.
It raised awareness of an important IRS business reporting rule.
BUSINESS OR HOBBY? NINE FACTORS HELP THE IRS DECIDE
The dividing line between a business and a hobby may be thin, but it can look like a canyon when you are on one side and your tax deductions are on the other. The gap is a function of differing treatment of expenses.
HOW TO HANDLE THE FINANCIAL ISSUES AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE
The death of a spouse can be a devastating experience, both emotionally and financially. As the survivor, you’ll have to make important decisions while you’re in what could be the most vulnerable and distracted stage of your life. The suggestions that follow might at least help ease your financial stress.
To read these articles and more, click here: Hall & Company CPAs 2014 Winter NewsletterPosted in Accounting, Business Consulting, News, Tax | Leave a comment