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HLBGC Growth and Profit Round Table

 

HLB Gross Collins recently kicked off our Growth and Profit Round table with a workshop last month, facilitated by Jeff Plank, Director of Consulting Services.  The service offering consists of quarterly workshops and access to Mindshop Online, a web based portal that provides cutting edge business tools and access to on-line learning courses in topics including “Marketing and Sales Process” and “Leadership Development Process.”  Members can also collaborate with over 500 other business leaders all over the world.  Last month’s workshop covered change management, business process improvement, and problem solving tools.  If you would like to learn more and get involved, please contact Jeff Plank.

 

 

HLB International Appoints New Member in Mozambique

HLB International, one of the leading global accountancy networks with presence in 120 countries, has recently signed a new member in Mozambique: NNC, based in the capital city Maputo.

NNC, which provides audit & accounting, tax and business advisory services, has special expertise in the public services, training, services, commodities, non-profit organizations, energy, agriculture and food sectors. The firm’s staff provide services in English, Portuguese, Spanish and German.

HLB International has considerably strengthened its presence in Africa over the past two years, recruiting new members in Niger (also covering the rest of French-speaking West Africa with Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Togo & Guinea-Bissau), Eritrea, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda in addition to existing members in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria.

HLB International’s annual Middle East & Africa conference, held last week in Mauritius, brought together delegates from 24 countries in MEA and the rest of the world, bearing witness to the network’s dynamism on the continent. The conference was the occasion for HLB MEA members to network and explore business opportunities together as well as with outside speakers and participants.

 

Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft

Below is some important information from the IRS regarding Identity Theft:

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

How do you know if your tax records have been affected?

Usually, an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. Generally, the identity thief will use a stolen SSN to file a forged tax return and attempt to get a fraudulent refund early in the filing season.

You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your return later in the filing season and discover that two returns have been filed using the same SSN.

Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states that:

  • More than one tax return for you was filed,
  • You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return, or
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

What to do if your tax records were affected by identity theft?

If you receive a notice from IRS, respond immediately. If you believe someone may have used your SSN fraudulently, please notify IRS immediately by responding to the name and number printed on the notice or letter. You will need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.

For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at 1-800-908-4490.

How can you protect your tax records?

If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc., contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

How can you minimize the chance of becoming a victim?

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it.
  • Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

In 2015, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

For tax year 2015, the Internal Revenue Service announced today annual inflation adjustments for more than 40 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2014-61 provides details about these annual adjustments.

The tax items for tax year 2015 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts –

  • The tax rate of 39.6 percent affects singles whose income exceeds $413,200 ($464,850 for married taxpayers filing a joint return), up from $406,750 and $457,600, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The standard deduction rises to $6,300 for singles and married persons filing separate returns and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly, up from $6,200 and $12,400, respectively, for tax year 2014. The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,250, up from $9,100.
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2015 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $258,250 or more ($309,900 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2015 rises to $4,000, up from the 2014 exemption of $3,950. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $258,250 ($309,900 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $380,750 ($432,400 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2015 is $53,600 ($83,400, for married couples filing jointly). The 2014 exemption amount was $52,800 ($82,100 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The 2015 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,242 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,143 for tax year 2014. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phaseouts.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2015 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,430,000, up from a total of $5,340,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2014.
  • For 2015, the exclusion from tax on a gift to a spouse who is not a U.S. citizen is $147,000, up from $145,000 for 2014.
  • For 2015, the foreign earned income exclusion breaks the six-figure mark, rising to $100,800, up from $99,200 for 2014.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2015.
  • The annual dollar limit on employee contributions to employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements (FSA) rises to $2,550, up $50 dollars from the amount for 2014.
  • Under the small business health care tax credit,  the maximum credit is phased out based on the employer’s number of full-time equivalent employees in excess of 10 and the employer’s average annual wages in excess of $25,800 for tax year 2015, up from $25,400 for 2014.

Details on these inflation adjustments and others not listed in this release can be found in Revenue Procedure 2014-61, which will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2014-47 on Nov. 17, 2013. The pension limitations for 2015 were announced on Oct. 23, 2014.

Social Security wage base increases to $118,500 for 2015

The Social Security Administration has announced that the wage base for computing the Social Security tax in 2015 will increase to $118,500 from $117,000, which was the wage base for 2014.

For 2015, the FICA tax rate for employers is 7.65% each—6.2% for social security and 1.45% for medicare. For 2015, an employee pays:

  1. 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $118,500 of wages with a maximum tax is $7,347.00, plus
  2. 1.45% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of wages ($250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return), plus
  3. 2.35% Medicare tax (regular 1.45% Medicare tax + 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all wages in excess of $200,000; $250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return.

For 2015, the self-employment tax imposed on self-employed people is:

  • 12.4% Social Security tax on the first $118,500 of self-employment income, for a maximum tax of $14,694.00; plus
  • 2.90% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of self-employment income; $250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 on a separate return, plus
  • 3.8% (2.90% regular Medicare tax + 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all self-employment income in excess of $200,000; $250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return.

 

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