On November 22, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant granted an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction and thereby enjoined the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the Overtime Final Rule on December 1, 2016. The case was heard in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division (State of Nevada ET AL v. United States Department of Labor ET AL No: 4:16-CV-00731).
The IRS published cost-of-living adjustments to various qualified retirement plans and related amounts for 2017. Many of the limits pertaining to pension and other retirement plans have changed. For instance, the (1) benefit limit for defined benefit plans has increased from $210,000 to $215,000; (2) defined contribution plan limit has increased from $53,000 to $54,000; and (3) compensation limit for determining benefits and contributions has increased from $265,000 to $270,000. However, some limits remain the same. For example, the (1) compensation limit for defining a highly-compensated employee remains at $120,000; (2) elective deferral limit for employees participating in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans remains at $18,000; and (3) limit on elective deferrals to SIMPLE accounts remains at $12,500. News Release IR 2016-141 ; Notice 2016-62, 2016-46 IRB
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Turning receivables into cash is among the most important things a business must do. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Here are five ways to speed up collections:
1. Streamline the billing process. You can’t collect what you don’t bill. Invoice customers promptly — as soon as the product ships, if possible. Or, if your company provides services, track billable hours daily and bill monthly — or as often as permitted under the customer’s contract. Implementing an electronic payment system, or upgrading your existing one, may accelerate invoicing and enable faster receipt of receivables.
2. Reward early birds and penalize procrastinators. Enticing customers to pay before the due date may require early-bird discounts, such as a small percentage off bills or value-added perks for those who pay on time or improve their payment histories. Conversely, you might consider assessing fees on past-due payments. However, many companies decide to waive late charges as an act of goodwill when customers immediately resolve outstanding balances.
3. Take a multifaceted approach. A variety of strategies, rather than a single phone call demanding payment, can yield better results. Courtesy calls may allow you to more quickly discover discrepancies (such as wrong addresses) and settle disputes. Payment plans can help distressed customers catch up on overdue accounts. And promissory notes can help prevent future billing disagreements.
4. Minimize risky business. Before conducting business with anyone, review a prospective customer’s payment history, references and credit score to assess ability to pay. Poor credit shouldn’t necessarily stop you from providing products or services to a customer. But be prepared to alter your typical payment terms when dealing with high-risk buyers.
5. Look for outside help. If late payments become a serious concern, third parties can offer assistance. Turning over particularly bad debts to a reputable collection agency allows you to distance yourself from the matter and focus on business. And let it not go unsaid that our CPA firm can review your financial statements and collection procedures to help you set specific, achievable goals in getting paid faster.
The IRS released the 2016–2017 per diem rates for substantiating employee business expenses under IRC Sec. 274(d) for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred while traveling away from home. The Meal and Incidental Expense (M&IE) rates for the transportation industry remain at $63 for travel in the continental U.S. and $68 for travel outside the continental U.S. The per diem for travel to high-cost localities increases from $275 to $282 ($68 for M&IE), while the rate for travel to other localities increases from $185 to $189 ($57 for M&IE). The incidental-expenses-only rate remains at $5 per day. The updated rates and list of high-cost locations apply to per diem allowances paid to employees after 9/30/16. Notice 2016-58, 2016-41 IRB
If you invest, whether you’re considered an investor or a trader can have a significant impact on your tax bill. Do you know the difference?
Most people who trade stocks are classified as investors for tax purposes. This means any net gains are treated as capital gains rather than ordinary income.
That’s good if your net gains are long-term (that is, you’ve held the investment more than a year) because you can enjoy the lower long-term capital gains rate. However, any investment-related expenses (such as margin interest, stock tracking software, etc.) are deductible only if you itemize and, in some cases, only if the total of the expenses exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income.
Traders have it better in some situations. Their expenses reduce gross income even if they can’t itemize deductions and not just for regular tax purposes, but also for alternative minimum tax purposes.
Plus, in certain circumstances, if traders have a net loss for the year, they can claim it as an ordinary loss (so it can offset other ordinary income) rather than a capital loss. Capital losses are limited to a $3,000 ($1,500 if married filing separately) per year deduction once any capital gains have been offset.
Passing the trader test
What does it take to successfully meet the test for trader status? The answer is twofold:
1. The trading must be “substantial.” While there’s no bright line test, the courts have tended to view more than a thousand trades a year, spread over most of the available trading days, as substantial.
2. The trading must be designed to try to catch the swings in the daily market movements. In other words, you must be attempting to profit from these short-term changes rather than from the long-term holding of investments. So the average duration for holding any one position needs to be very short, generally only a day or two.
If you satisfy these conditions, the chances are good that you’d ultimately be able to prove trader vs. investor status. Of course, even if you don’t satisfy one of the tests, you might still prevail, but the odds against you are higher. If you have questions, please contact us.