New Tax Law Could Encourage Speedy Divorces

Posted 7/6/2018

Financial planners and lawyers are reminding their wealthiest clients that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates a tax break for alimony payments that are finalized after December 31st. Agreements signed before the end of the year will still qualify for the annual deduction - a distinction with large financial implications for couples where one partner earns substantially more per year than the other. Lawyers warn that the loss of the alimony deduction could disproportionately hurt women, who are the more frequent recipients of alimony payments and who face a higher risk of income decline after divorce than men. It could also reduce the welfare of some children. At present, around 600,000 taxpayers claim the deduction each year, according to the IRS. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates elimination of the tax break will increase federal revenues by $7bn over the course of a decade.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/02/us/politics/new-tax-law-rich-divorce.html

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Supreme Court in Online Sales Tax Ruling

Posted 6/22/2018

The US Supreme Court has ruled that states have the authority to force online retailers to collect sales taxes, overturning a precedent that had barred US states from requiring businesses with no "physical presence" in that state to collect sales taxes. The case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, saw the justices vote 5-4 for the state, which passed a law in 2016 that required firms doing a certain amount of business in the state to collect sales tax from customers. The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to that law, overturning a 1992 Supreme Court decision that established the physical presence requirement. The ruling is likely to lead other states to try to collect sales tax on purchases from out-of-state online businesses more aggressively; 45 of the 50 states impose sales taxes, with the duty to pay them for online purchases falling on the consumer. However, compliance is low, 96% of such taxes going uncollected, according to a California tax board estimate. Carl Davis, research director at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said: “This is going to allow state and local governments to improve their tax enforcement and to put local business on a more level playing field.”

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SEC official:management accountants are “expert historians”

Posted 6/21/2018

SEC Chief Accountant Wesley Bricker told attendees at the Institute of Management Accountants’ annual conference this week about the vital role he sees them playing in financial reporting, describing them as “expert historians” providing the “discipline and diligence” necessary to maintain a reliable historical narrative of their organizations. He later went on to discuss the PCAOB, affirming its statutory mission and rejecting speculation that its new members – the chairman and five-person board have all changed in the last year – will see it retreat on its standards.

Accounting Today

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AICPA releases new educational resources

Posted 6/20/2018

The AICPA has released a new range of learning resources which are a combination of free and for-purchase products, collectively called Go Beyond+ Disruption, covering topics including human intelligence, data analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain and robotic process automation. The free courses cover overviews and introductions to topics, taking the form of video or audio clips, while the paid-for courses cover the subject matter in more depth, and may take the form of live learning, webcasts or on-demand, self-paced learning.

Accounting Today 

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AICPA CEO: Time to reimagine the CPA profession

Posted 6/18/2018

AICPA president and chief executive Barry Melancon has used a keynote speech at the Institute’s annual Engage event in Las Vegas to encourage accountants to reimagine their profession and embrace technology in a more comprehensive way. He noted that that CPA firms and consultancies need to make better use of cloud technology, blockchain, and bots. Also speaking, AICPA chair Eric Hansen argued that tax issues can be better represented by accountants: “With social media and access to info on the internet, a lot of our clients are getting misled on tax issues — our professionals are spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with misinformation. We’re trying to stimulate interest in, and excitement about, the changes that are happening in the tax area. This is an area that’s evolving rapidly, away from compliance toward a holistic suite of services and skills.”

Accounting Today

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Restrictions of the new paid leave tax credit

Posted 6/18/2018

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 promised a tax credit to employers, starting in 2018, on the wages that they pay to eligible employees during family and medical leave in an effort to encourage employers to offer paid leave. However, there are certain restrictions in the law which minimizes its benefit to employers including the stipulation that paid leave, for tax credit purposes, must be due to taking leave via the Family and Medical Leave Act. In other words, pay during the leave due to vacation, personal leave, or a medical leave is not considered for credit purposes.

Employee Benefit Adviser

 

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Cloud tech makes for happy accountants

Posted 6/15/2018

A survey from Dimensional Research on behalf of close management software provider FloQast has found that advanced technology such as cloud computing makes it easier for accounting departments to hire and retain staff. The survey of over 500 accounting and finance professionals found that teams which adopt cloud accounting technology report greater job satisfaction, and are less likely to feel stressed from work.

Accounting Today

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AICPA launches PFP Certificate Program

Posted 6/14/2018

A new curriculum has been launched for CPAs wishing to expand their knowledge in personal financial planning (PFP). AICPA’s PFP Certificates Program offers a new pathway to the Personal Financial Specialist credential, and is comprised of four certificates, covering retirement, estate, risk management and insurance, and investment planning. A fifth certificate covers the practical application of the planning process. CPAs who enroll and obtain all five certificates will have satisfied both the education and exam requirements for the PFS credential. The comprehensive PFS credential exam will remain available exclusively for CPAs who elect to pursue that pathway.

CPA Practice Advisor

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Nonprofits to receive guidance on grants

Posted 6/13/2018

The FASB is poised to release an accounting standards update this month aimed at nonprofit organizations, offering guidance on how grants are classified. The document will provide examples of when a nonprofit organization should classify a grant as an exchange, as opposed to a contribution. The Board wanted to improve the existing guidance, which dates back over 20 years, in light of the new revenue recognition standard, which takes effect next year for most nonprofits.

Accounting Today

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Seattle opts for “head tax” repeal

Posted 6/12/2018

Seattle City Council is to repeal a “head tax” on big businesses, responding to a backlash from corporate leaders and residents who say they don’t trust the council to spend wisely. The tax would charge companies with at least $20m in gross revenue about $275 per full-time worker each year, raising roughly $48m annually for affordable housing and homeless services. However, opponents called the Seattle measure a tax on jobs and questioned whether city officials are spending current resources effectively. Council President Bruce Harrell announced the repeal yesterday, with a vote to abolish the levy to take place later today.

US News and World Report Seattle Times

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