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Work Creates Less Stress Than Home, Penn State Researchers Find

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 —By Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal online <elizabeth.bernstein@wsj.com>

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.

Link: http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/work-creates-less-stress-than-home-penn-state-researchers-find-1401749697-lMyQjAxMTA0MDAwMzEwNDMyWj

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Out & About…Managing Director, Bradford Hall, attended the 2014 PBS SoCal Gala 05/17/2014

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PBS1 300x225 Out & About...Managing Director, Bradford Hall, attended the 2014 PBS SoCal Gala 05/17/2014

(Above) Bradford and Janice Hall glitzed and glamed up for the Hollywood Glamour themed 2014 PBS SoCal Gala.

PBS2 300x225 Out & About...Managing Director, Bradford Hall, attended the 2014 PBS SoCal Gala 05/17/2014

(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.

PBS3 300x225 Out & About...Managing Director, Bradford Hall, attended the 2014 PBS SoCal Gala 05/17/2014

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House Votes to Revive Expired Corporate Research Tax Credit

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(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.

‘Question Mark’
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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New HallCPAs website launched

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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!

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Spring 2014 Client Update Newsletter

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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Winter 2014 Client Update

Posted on by HallCPAManager

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Newsletter

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Tune in to Bradford Hall’s interview on ExitCoachRadio.com – Today, 01/29/14 at 12:30pm PST

Posted on by HallCPAManager

Bradford Hall, managing director, will be interviewed live by Bill Black of ExitCoachRadio.com today at 12:30 pm PST.

ExitCoachRadio.com is the premier “information station for Age 50+ business owners.” Tune it at www.octalkradio.net.

Be sure to tune in!!

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How to Know When to Issue a 1099-MISC

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How to Know When to Issue a 1099-MISC

•    Calculate if you paid $600 or more during the tax year in the course of your trade or business to an individual, sole-proprietor, LLC or partnership. Professional fees to an attorney, doctor or other professional are included. Payments to corporations are included only if they are for medical, health care or legal fees.
•    Calculate if you paid $10 or more in royalties.
•    Issue 1099-MISCs if you have or manage a trade or business and have paid $600 or more to an individual, LLC or partnership (or certain corporations) or have paid $10 or more in royalties.
•    Issue a separate 1099-MISC to each individual , LLC or partnership (or specific corporations).

Payments Requiring 1099-MISC

•    Determine that you paid $600 or more in compensation for services rendered by a nonemployee to your trade or business. Include the gross amount of payments in box 7, including anything you paid the contractor for supplies and materials.
•    Determine that you paid $600 or more in rent for office space, machines, equipment or land in the course of your trade or business. Write the amount in box 1. You are not required to include amounts paid to corporations for rent.
•    Verify that your trade or business gave any prizes or awards to an individual who is not your employee. Include only amounts of $600 or more. Put amounts in box 3. But don’t report it if the prize was transferred directly to charity.
•    Verify that your trade or business paid $600 or more in medical or health care payments to an individual, partnership or corporation. Put the amount in box 6.
•    Verify that your trade or business paid $600 or more to an attorney or law corporation for any legal services. Write the amount in box 7. If you cannot determine the amount paid that applies to legal services, write the gross amount paid, even if less than $600, in box 13 and put the letter A after the amount.
•    Determine if you paid $600 or more in taxable fringe benefits to nonemployees in the course of your trade or business. Write the amount in box 7.
•    Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more in punitive damages. Write the amount in box 3.
•    Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more in director’s fees. Write the amount in box 7.
•    Determine if your trade or business paid $600 or more to a deceased employee’s estate or beneficiary. There are some tricky rules on this one, so be careful and get some help from us if needed. Write the amount in box 3.

The general rule is that you do not have to send 1099-MISCs to a corporation. The exceptions to the rule are for medical, health care, legal and attorney, and fishing related payments.

The 1099-MISC should be used for reporting payments to independent workers — not payments to employees. For employees, you use form W-2 instead to report employment income.

Independent workers are typically self-employed individuals or small service firms that you hire as independent contractors. Examples of independent workers might include a graphics designer, web developer, cleaning service, freelance writer, landscaper or gardener service, business consultant, IT or HR company, marketing consultant or any other self-employed provider. The key is that the independent worker is self-employed — and not your employee.

You are required to complete a 1099-MISC reporting form for an independent worker if you paid that independent worker $600 or more. You add up all payments made to a payee during the year, and if the amount is $600 or more for the year, you must issue a 1099 for that payee.

The following penalties will be in effect for the year 2014:
•    $30 penalty for filing a 1099 not more than 30 days late;
•    $60 penalty for filing a 1099 more than 30 days late and before August 1;
•    $100 penalty for filing a 1099 on or after August 1;
•    $250 penalty for intentional failure to file.

The following penalties are in effect for the year 2013:
•    $30 penalty for each filing of a 1099 not more than 30 days late;
•    $60 penalty for each filing of a 1099 more than 30 days late and before August 1;
•    $100 penalty for each filing of a 1099 on or after August 1;
•    $250 penalty for intentional failure to file

Deadlines for 1099-MISC Forms

•    Provide the recipient with his or her copy of the Form 1099-MISC by January 31 reporting income for the previous calendar year.
•    Mail the Form 1099-MISC to the IRS no later than February 28.
•    Remember we are here for you if you have questions or would like us to prepare the necessary forms.

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Should My California Business be an LLC, an S-Corp or Both?

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Of the many business entities that owners consider, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Subchapter S Corporations (S-Corps) are two of the most popular. Although they share the distinction of being ‘pass-through’ entities in addition to providing liability protection, they do have several differences. An owner must also consider operational ease, administrative requirements, profit-sharing and employment tax implications.

Before choosing one or both of these options, determine which features are most important to you and your company. The needs of every business are different so it’s worth an hour or two with a knowledgeable attorney to investigate all of the issues that will affect you.

What Is an LLC?

An LLC has a default business structure similar to a sole-proprietorship or a partnership. According to the IRS, ‘It is designed to provide the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.’ As a pass-through entity, all profits and losses pass through the business to the LLC owners (aka ‘members’). Similar to partnerships, the members themselves report the profits/losses on their federal tax returns.

What differentiates the LLC is the limit of the liability for which a member is responsible. Typically, the member’s investment in the company is that limit. Conversely, a sole proprietor or the partners in a general partnership are each liable for all of the debts of the company. Keep in mind that neither LLCs nor S-Corps necessarily shield owners from their or their employees’ tort actions such as accidents. Be sure to consult with a good business attorney.

Pros and Cons of the LLC

One of the features that distinguishes the LLC from an S-Corp is its operational ease. There are far fewer forms required for registering and there are fewer start-up costs. Filing taxes is a once-a-year affair on April 15: a single-member LLC files a 1040 and Schedule C like a sole proprietor; partners in an LLC file a 1065 partnership tax return like owners in a traditional partnership. Moreover, LLCs are not required to have formal meetings and keep annual minutes.

Some states do charge the LLC an income tax. California not only charges an $800 annual tax but also a gross receipts fee ranging from $900 to $11,790 depending on the level of annual business receipts attributable to California.  This fee starts off once receipts hit $250,000 and reaches the maximum fee of $11,790 once receipts hit the $5 million mark.

There are also fewer restrictions on profit-sharing within an LLC as members distribute profits as they see fit. Members might contribute different proportions of capital and sweat-equity. Consequently, it’s up to them to decide who has earned what percentage of the profits or losses.

But LLCs are not the perfect entity for all businesses. First, an LLC has a limited life: when a member dies or undergoes bankruptcy the LLC is dissolved. Typically, you would determine in advance the length of the LLC’s duration when you file it with your state. If your plans include taking your company public or issuing shares to your employees, essentially prolonging its life, then you would need to convert to a corporate business structure.

Second, the owner of an LLC is considered to be self-employed and must pay the 15.3% self-employment tax contributions towards Medicare and social security. As such, the entire net income of the LLC is subject to this tax. It costs money to have some operational ease!

The IRS also limits the ‘characteristics’ of your company. An LLC may only have two of the four characteristics that define corporations: ‘Limited liability to the extent of assets, continuity of life, centralization of management, and free transferability of ownership interests.’ Therefore, if you wish to have more than two of these characteristics, you’ll need to convert to a corporate business structure.


What is an S-Corp?

An S-Corp is a corporation that has received the Subchapter S designation from the IRS. A business must first be chartered as a corporation in the state where it’s headquartered then file to be considered an S-Corp. According to the IRS, S-Corporations are ‘considered by law to be a unique entity, separate and apart from those who own it.’ This allows for a limit on the financial liability for which an owner (aka ‘shareholder’) is responsible. Nevertheless, liability protection isn’t perfect. The plaintiff may be able to ‘pierce the corporate veil’ and go after your personal assets in a lawsuit.

What differentiates the S-Corp from a traditional corporation (C-Corp) is the ability to have profits and losses pass through to the shareholder’s personal tax return. Consequently, the business is not taxed itself, only the shareholders. There is an important caveat: any shareholder who works for the company must pay him or herself ‘reasonable compensation.’ Basically, the shareholder must be paid fair market value, or the IRS might reclassify any additional corporate earnings as ‘wages.’ We’ll see the tax implications of this below.

Pros and Cons of the S-Corp

One of the best features of the S-Corp is the tax savings for you and your business. Recall that members of an LLC are subject to employment tax on the entire net income of the business. Conversely, only the wages of the S-Corp shareholder who is an employee are subject to employment tax. The remaining income is not subject to employment taxes.

As mentioned above, the shareholder must receive reasonable compensation. If you try to pay yourself an extremely low salary and high distributions you might get a tax advantage for the year, but the IRS may flag you for audit.

Keep in mind that some benefits that shareholder/employees receive can be written off as business expenses. A member of an LLC can write off business expenses personally against his or her allocable share of LLC income. An S corporate shareholder would be limited by 2% of AGI as well as being subjected to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) negating any benefits to unreimbursed business expenses paid personally.

An S-Corp also allows the business to have an independent life separate from the shareholders. If a shareholder dies, leaves the company, or sells his or her shares, the S-Corp can continue doing business relatively undisturbed. By maintaining the business as a distinct corporate entity, clearer lines are defined between the shareholders and the business that improve the protection of the shareholders.

The tax savings and solidity of the S-Corp also come with a price. As a separate structure, S-Corps require scheduled director and shareholder meetings, minutes from those meetings, adoption and updates to by-laws, stock transfers and records maintenance.

In addition to all of this paperwork are the tax forms required by the IRS. Such forms include:

  • Form 1120S: Income Tax Return for S Corporation (state tax return)
  • 1120S K-1: Shareholder’s Share of Income, Credit, Deductions
  • Form 4625 Depreciation
  • Employment Tax Forms (941, 940, W-2 and state forms)
  • Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return
  • Schedule E: Supplemental Income and Loss
  • Schedule SE: Self-Employment Tax
  • Form 1040-ES: Estimated Tax for Individuals
  • Forms 2553 S Election

These forms are due at various times during the year, so the burden to file them increases.

Also, states do not treat S-Corps equally. Most recognize them similarly to the federal government and tax the shareholders accordingly. In California, S corporations are taxed at the higher of $800 or 1.5% of net income (C corporations are taxed at the higher of $800 or 8.84% of net income). The big difference between an LLC and a corporation is that this tax is based on net income vs. gross receipts as it is in an LLC. An example of this is a business that has $3MM of gross receipts but only $150,000 of net income. An LLC would pay the $800 plus the gross receipts fee of $6,000 for a total of $6,800. An S corporation would pay just the net income tax based upon 1.5% or $2,250. In a second example let’s assume the business has the same $3MM of gross receipts with $1.25MM net income. An LLC would pay exactly the same amount ($6,800) but the S corporation would pay 1.5% of the net income or $18,750. 

Combining the Benefits of an LLC with an S-Corp

There is always the possibility of requesting S-Corp status for your LLC. Your attorney will advise you on the pros and cons. You’ll have to make a special election with the IRS to have the LLC taxed as an S-Corp using Form 2553. And you must file it before the first two months and fifteen days of the beginning of the tax year in which the election is to take effect.

The LLC remains a limited liability company from a legal standpoint but for tax purposes it’s treated as an S-Corp.

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IRS Catches up after Shutdown

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Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2013)

By Michael Cohn

After re-opening operations on Oct. 17, the IRS said in an email to tax professionals Friday that its employees are reporting back to work, and the agency is assessing the impact of the 16-day shutdown on its national operations.

“At this point, we know we received a large amount of correspondence during the closure,” the IRS said on its Web site. “We know there will be a substantial increase in demand for our phone services and many other operations. On Oct. 17, we started reopening our phone lines and our Taxpayer Assistance Centers, both of which will take time to ramp up to normal operating status. In addition, other business operations have started resuming, including the processing of billions of dollars of refunds for individuals and businesses and honoring transcript and authorization requests from third parties.”

Given the high demand for services, the IRS said it is encouraging taxpayers to wait to call or visit if their issue is not urgent, and to continue to use automated applications on the IRS website, www.IRS.gov, whenever possible.

Taxpayers who need immediate assistance are being encouraged to visit Taxpayer Assistance Centers in their area or try call centers but should be aware there will be delays. The IRS also has delayed the start of its 2014 renewal season for tax preparers to apply for their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers, or PTINs (see IRS Delays PTINs for 2014).

“In the days ahead, we will continue assessing the effect of this unprecedented situation on IRS operations, and we will do everything we can to resume our normal operations as quickly as possible so that we can best serve the needs of the American taxpayer,” the IRS added. “We greatly appreciate the patience of taxpayers and tax professionals during this period.”

Accounting Today Online


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