The Day After Tax Deadline Day… What To Do?

It’s the day after tax deadline day, months of hard work and stress have come to an end.  Now what should you do? We are sure that you can think of many exciting things, one of which is probably taking a break from worrying about your taxes!  Enjoy having the peace of mind that your taxes are completed and filed, and if you are receiving a refund – you can track it here.  But you can also begin thinking about how to improve the process for next year!

Maybe your tax season didn’t go as smoothly as you hoped….maybe you didn’t receive the type of care and attention you thought you would receive when you hired your CPA.  If that is the case – your next step could be to actively shop for a new CPA.  You should look for one that is proactive in nature, that believes in timely communication, and one that is knowledgeable in all facets of tax and accounting.  You want your accountant to become a yearly resource to you.  If you only spoke to your accountant from January – April this year, that is part of your problem.  If you think the tax preparation was done incorrectly…you can contact our team for a 2nd opinion on your tax situation.  This is something that happens quite frequently and can make a BIG difference in some situations.

How To Improve For Next Year

Tax planning is the #1 way to improve your experience.  You can begin tax planning…NOW.  It is never too early to start to look at next year’s tax season and have a plan laid out.  Also this is a pretty great time to get appointments with CPAs.  As tax season has come to an end – CPAs are now available for face to face meetings and have much more availability.

So if you want to be an active participant in preparing for a better tax year, click the button below.  Our team of CPAs offer no-cost consultations and are excited for the chance to meet you and help you see the results you expect with your personal and business tax situations.

Does My HOA Have To File Tax Returns?

Does my association need to file the 1120-H or the 1120 federal income tax forms? What is the difference? Isn’t my association exempt from taxes? Is my association subject to franchise and income tax in North Carolina? These are questions that come up for community association board of directors.

Under North Carolina law, a homeowners or property owners association is exempt from state franchise and income tax as long as the association is comprised solely of residential property Associations organized for commercial property (such as office condominiums). However, they are not exempt under the law. This is a common misconception for board members. We sometimes see commercial property associations having to amend prior years’ tax returns and pay the franchise and income taxes for past years, plus penalties and interest.

If your association is comprised solely of residential property, income from member assessments is exempt from income taxes for both federal and state filings. What is defined as membership income? Essentially, it is income derived from members for the preservation, maintenance and management of the association. Some examples are the dues or assessments paid by members, late fees, interest charges on delinquent dues, and special assessments. Income generated from the clubhouse rentals, amenity rentals, as well as interest income generated from CDs and interest-bearing bank accounts is considered to be outside the purpose of the association.

Which tax form needs to be filed?

The standard form for a homeowners association is the federal form 1120-H. The “H” stands for homeowners association. This is a straightforward one-page form on which both exempt and non-exempt income is listed. The tax rate associated with this form is a flat 30 percent applied to the taxable net income only. Remember, this form is for homeowners associations specifically.

An association has the option to use form 1120, but this will subject the association to being treated as a for-profit corporation for tax purposes. This could expose the association to closer scrutiny by the IRS. The tax rate on the federal form 1120 is only 15 percent on the first $50,000 in taxable income. Many board members view this as a big savings on the association’s tax liability, but the board must weigh the increased risk for an IRS audit before choosing to use form 1120.

The fact that your association’s income may all be tax exempt does not eliminate the requirement to file tax returns. Failing to file can subject the association to additional or higher preparation fees for these unfiled returns, plus penalties and interest. In addition, the North Carolina Secretary of State will often suspend the corporation’s charter until all returns have been filed.

Let us know if you have questions about your association’s tax or audit needs. Reach out to the LBA Haynes Strand team for your no-cost consultation.

Tax Design Challenge: Reimagine The Taxpayer Experience

The IRS has created a tax design challenge for the taxpayers. Taxpayers are encouraged to reimagine the entire taxpayer experience and design the experience of the future. The IRS is offering a $10,000 award for the Best Overall Design and a number of other prizes for those that are most useful and most financially capable. To see the full Challenge outline: CLICK HERE! Submissions must be made by May 10, 2016 at 11:59AM Eastern Time.

Judging Criteria:

The review panel will make selections based upon the following criteria:

  • Overall Appeal
  • Taxpayer Usefulness
  • Financial Capability
  • Visual Hierarchy
  • Information Density
  • Accessibility
Prize Information

A review panel will select winners based on defined criteria and an individual submission can win multiple awards:

  • Overall Design—$10,000 (1st), and $5,000 (2nd).
  • Best Taxpayer Usefulness—$2,000 (1st), and $1,000 (2nd).
  • Best Financial Capability—$2,000 (1st), and $1,000 (2nd)
Think You Have What It Takes?

If you have been frustrated with the tax paying process and experience, then this is your chance to offer a solution. With this opportunity, you have a chance to make the tax paying experience easier, simpler, and better! Throughout the competition, participants will have the chance to engage with policy experts and a network of mentors that include world-class strategists and designers from government and non-government organizations. The team at LBA Haynes Strand will be happy to assist you with this tax design challenge!

Johnny Wood Receives Prestigious Board Position

Principal Member Johnny Wood, CPA has been named Chairman of the Board for the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. His experience, leadership skills, and outstanding moral character make him the perfect candidate for the job.

The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship

The Nussbaum Center, founded in 1987, is a private non-profit corporation whose mission is to attract, advise, and house start-up and early stage growth entrepreneurs. In just under 30 years, the Center has graduated over 290 businesses with an 80% success rate, compared to a National rate of 44%. Johnny has served on the Board of Directors at the Center for nearly 10 years.

As one of the founding members of LBA Haynes Strand, Johnny is a key leader of our accounting, auditing, and consulting departments. In addition to traditional accounting services, he assists a variety of closely held companies and their owners in tax planning and compliance matters. Johnny is also very passionate about serving the Greensboro community. He is currently active in several community organizations and will now serve as the Nussbaum Center Chairman of the Board, a group that he cares deeply about.

“I am honored by this nomination,” says Johnny. “I truly believe in what the Center stands for, and for some reason the other board members think I am suitable to be the Chairman. This Center is all about helping young entrepreneurs succeed. It gives them countless networking opportunities with tons of folks who have the same desires to make it in the business world, and we help make that happen. If you’re trying to make it on your own, it’s tough, really tough. We help to ease that process and we have tons of success stories. That’s what I enjoy the most. It’s just fun – stressful at times of course, but lots of fun.”

To schedule a meeting with Johnny Wood, contact us today!

Julie Ayers: The 2016 NAWBO Woman Business Owner of The Year!

Julie Ayers has been named the 2016 winner of NAWBO’s Woman Business Owner of the Year Award!  This award recognizes the NAWBO member who has most demonstrated strong leadership skills in growing and managing a successful business that is more than five years old.  Julie accepted the award at NAWBO’s 31st Annual Awards Gala on Tuesday May 17th.  Other finalists for the award included: Jennifer Maier, President & CEO of WDS, Inc. and Suzy Johnson, President and Owner of Employee Benefit Advisors of the Carolinas, LLC. 

Julie who is the Immediate Past President of the NAWBO Charlotte Board was blown away by the award and had this to say, “I am so honored and grateful to have received this award. In my time with NAWBO, I have learned and grown so much – from becoming a member, to being named Treasurer and then President, and now winning this award.  I think this speaks volumes for how important NAWBO has been to me and the way that I look at business now.  I have met so many great friends and developed such amazing relationships with other Charlotte women business owners, and I thank them for always being a resource to me and for helping me grow into what I have become today.  I also need to thank my fellow Members and my team at LBA Haynes Strand – we have developed a special Firm and one that holds a very exciting future.”

This marks Julie’s second exciting announcement this year, as she was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in the Greater Charlotte area by The Mecklenburg Times in March.

What is NAWBO?

NAWBO stands for The National Association of Women Business Owners.  Since 1975, NAWBO has helped women grow their businesses by sharing resources and providing a single voice to shape economic and public policy.  NAWBO is the only dues-based national organization representing the interests of women entrepreneurs across all industries.

In 1999, the Charlotte-based women’s organization WBO joined the National Association of Women Business Owners to become NAWBO Charlotte.  There are chapters of NAWBO in almost every Metropolitan area, and NAWBO is represented in 33 countries across the world through its affiliation with Les Femmes Chefs d’ Enterprises Mondiales (World Association of Women Entrepreneurs).

Today, NAWBO Charlotte is the only organization specially designed to serve, support, and strengthen the 42,000 women-owned businesses in the greater Charlotte, NC metropolitan area.  To learn more visit www.NAWBOCharlotte.org.

LBA Haynes Strand Wins Top Wealth Management Excellence Award

North Carolina CPA firm, LBA Haynes Strand, PLLC has been awarded the 2015 Top Wealth Management Excellence award from HK Financial Services (HKFS). LBA Haynes Strand earned this award by helping clients with strategic wealth management planning.

LBA Haynes Strand was founded on the belief that personal attention, trusted advice, and quality services are key elements to helping clients succeed. In order to further clients’ success, the Firm decided to designate HKFS as their preferred service provider of wealth management services.

This strategic partnership with HKFS provides independent and objective financial services to all clients. HK Financial Services is a Registered Investment Advisor, managing over $1.7 Billion for the clients of its 65+ CPA firms, while providing insurance, brokerage, and retirement planning for its CPA affiliate clients. LBA Haynes Strand is proud to be a part of this partnership.

To learn more, visit our Wealth Management page or contact any of our three office locations!

2016 LBAHS DAY: The Team Volunteers at LIFESPAN

On June 2nd, 2016, the team celebrated our annual LBAHS DAY. LBAHS DAY is an annual community service day, where the team chooses a non-profit and goes and spends the day assisting in whatever needs to be done. This year the team traveled to Greensboro and volunteered with LIFESPAN. The LIFESPAN Creative Campus programs capture the many wonderful and exciting opportunities that are provided to individuals with developmental disabilities. LIFESPAN’s mission is to empower adults with disabilities by providing education, employment, and enrichment opportunities to live, work, and play in their communities.

LIFESPAN Creative Campus locations host an array of engaging and enriching services including art, drama, horticulture, culinary arts, pottery, recreation and health and wellness.  The curriculum is based upon interests of the individuals that are supported and this allows for an ever changing environment. To learn more, visit: http://www.lifespanservices.org/.

The LBAHS Team rolled up their sleeves after arriving bright and early and got to work in the Andreve Teaching Garden on the LIFESPAN Creative Campus.

June 15th Lunch-n-Learn: Information Security Threats

Small businesses (SMB’s) are subjected to a daily onslaught of Information Security threats. These threats come in many forms including technical, human, and software vulnerabilities. How does a SMB that is already restricted by personnel, budget, and productivity constraints effectively combat these threats?

There is always more…

More hardware, more software, more people, more procedures.

Just more stuff.

More is not always the answer. Often times other more practical methods or improved configuration/utilization of existing resources are the solution

Corporate Information Technologies (CIT) is a 19 year old information technology firm that are subject matter experts in the areas of Technology Infrastructure, Data Storage and Backup, and Information Security. CIT is privileged to have the opportunity to perform both defensive (Blue) and offensive (Red) team Information Security (InfoSec) assessments for many of their clients. These organizations, many the leaders in their respective industry, have substantial IT infrastructure and Information assets to secure. More often than not these assessments reveal substantial ways to better secure these organizations using their existing systems and investments. Many times training and communication is the only component missing from their InfoSec arsenal.

Understanding the methods and techniques used by attackers is one of the most effective ways to combat attackers. Using this understanding to better craft defenses and detection methods against ever evolving attacks is one of the most effective preventative measures an organization can take.

Humans remain one of the largest weaknesses while simultaneously being one of the greatest assets to any organization’s InfoSec policy. Training and equipping them for battle should be on the forefront of every SMB’s InfoSec plan. Plan, train, rehearse, test. It is often the simplest things that make the greatest differences in the battle to secure an organization against attackers.

On June 15th Corporate Information Technologies (CIT) is hosting a Lunch-n-Learn to share the top 5 ways small businesses are hacked and effective ways to combat them. This talk will be presented by a member of CIT’s offensive security team (Red Team). As ethical hackers, they are involved intimately with the techniques used by their nefarious black-hat counterparts. Come learn how to better secure, detect, and deter hackers from making your organization their next victim.

This event is an informal small-group setting with a member of CIT’s offensive security group discussing this vitally important topic. CIT will provide a non-technical presentation that is intended for both a semi-technical and completely non-technical audience.

3 Keys To Staying Relevant With Your Clients

Staying relevant with your clients is the key to success. This applies to not only retaining your clients, but to also getting referrals from your clients. So, how exactly do you do that? What does staying relevant or becoming more relevant mean?

You talk to your client, you master the industry the client is in, and you provide timely advice and tips that lead to productive results for your client. Ultimately you are building a relationship with your client. One that is built on mutual trust and knowledge share. In North Carolina, especially in the Charlotte and Triad regions, there are dozens of CPA firms that can handle a client’s tax or accounting needs, however client service is where LBA Haynes Strand stands out from the rest. We create strong mutually beneficial relationships with clients. We stay relevant with our clients, and we do that by focusing on three main client service aspects:

1. Industry Acumen

Staying up to date on a client’s industry, including threats and opportunities is key. This includes making your client aware of any changes or updates that they need to be aware of relating to their industry. We pride ourselves in having a diverse team that is able to handle client needs in a number of industries. Most specifically: Charter Schools, Construction, Manufacturing, HOA, Non-Profit, and Entrepreneurs. Our team attends regular seminars, conferences, and other events in all of these fields to stay up to date.

2. Client Collaboration

We cannot stress this enough… work with your client! Your client should feel comfortable to come to you regarding any problem or issue they have and before important decisions are made! Something we have found helpful with our clients is to hold regular planning sessions. These can be monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or just annually – whatever the client feels is necessary. When you sit at the table on the same team with your client, then you are much more likely to provide real value to your client.

3. Client Insight

Focus on the client! Focus on the client’s vision, short-term and long-term goals, and strategic initiatives to meet those goals. You must understand your client in order to provide great service! This can greatly help you, especially when it comes time to offer useful advice to the client. You cannot fully help your client if you don’t understand them.  We highly recommend to take this last step seriously and really get to know your client.

These three steps can greatly increase your relevance with your clients. Thus, creating an excellent client experience and one that will be mutually beneficial for years to come. We know because this is how we handle our clients. If you would like to discuss your tax or accounting needs with a member of the LBA Haynes Strand team, contact us for your no-cost consultation!

Julie Ayers Named A Charlotte SmartCEO Inaugural Brava Award Winner!

Charlotte SmartCEO has announced the winners of its inaugural Brava Awards program. We are excited to announce that Julie Ayers, Principal Member of LBA Haynes Strand, has been named a winner! The Brava Awards celebrate the distinguished achievements of 40 high-impact business leaders across the Greater Charlotte area. Brava award winners combine their entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community. The winners are exemplary leaders of both their companies and their communities. Julie Ayers is among an inaugural class who collectively generate more than $24.69 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 53,800 individuals.

“Brava winners possess the hallmark qualities of successful leaders – vision, passion, compassion, dedication, perseverance. Each winner in this inaugural class exhibits these qualities in all facets of her life, from running her business to tending to her family and donating time and resources to philanthropic initiatives,: says Jaime Nespor-Zawmon, president of SmartCEO. “We are honored to recognize a group of Charlotte women who are truly making a difference in the world.”

In addition, our team congratulates the other 39 women recognized for the Charlotte Brava Awards. To celebrate this tremendous award with Julie Ayers, join us on September 13th at the Charlotte Brava Award Ceremony!  You can find more information, by clicking HERE.

5 Key Internal Control Principles Manufacturing Companies Must Consider!

If large manufacturing companies want to stay competitive in today’s business environment they need to continually work on improving production efficiencies, product quality and cost reduction.

Apart from the competitive business environment, large companies need to comply with a load of rules and regulations.  The Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws.  These include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977e Occupational Safety and Health Act and many more.

In addition, publicly listed companies have to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.   The intent was to drive improvements in companies’ internal controls.  To comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act many firms adopted a recognized control framework.

The most common control framework that companies chose is known as the COSO framework.  The COSO framework was issued in 1992 by the committee of sponsoring organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).  Their Internal Control – Integrated Framework was referred to as “COSO”, but on May 2013 COSO issued an updated Internal Control – Integrated Framework (the 2013 Framework) to incorporate the changes and technology advances that have taken place and effected the business world.

The 2013 Framework provides more guidance to large companies to effectively put in place a robust system of internal controls.  It adds 17 principles that are necessary for effective internal controls, but also introduces 81 focus points that are typically important to establish an effective system of internal controls for large companies.

Large manufacturing companies now have the opportunity to implement some of these “best practice” principles and focus points at the operations level to improve on their efficiencies and effectiveness of internal controls.

The following 2013 COSO principles and focus points are more relevant to large manufacturing companies:

1.    The organization selects and develops general control activities over technology to support the achievement of objectives. (COSO Principle 11)

With today’s advances in technology, management needs to consider which technology solutions fit their business models best.  It is important to understand the risks associated with the different technology solutions available. Assessing and documenting controls over technology would greatly assist manufacturing companies to make the best decisions regarding technology.

2.    The organization identifies and assesses changes that could significantly impact the system of internal control.  (COSO Principle 9)

Manufacturing companies are faced with more changes today than in the past that could affect the system of internal control.  These can be grouped into three categories:

  • Changes in the external environment, such as availability of raw materials, new laws and regulations.
  • Changes in the business model, such as better technology solutions and higher quality standards.
  • Changes in leadership.

Understanding, documenting and communicating these changes to management will assist the organization to better manage these changes and control the desired outcomes.

3.    The organization specifies objectives with sufficient clarity to enable the identification and assessment of risks relating to objectives. (COSO Principle 6)

For manufacturing companies to achieve their manufacturing goals, sufficient clarity and understanding of the risks associated with these is essential.  Once the risks are properly identified and ranked, management can implement actions to mitigate these risks.

Specific focus areas such as tolerance of risk and the required level of precision in performance measurements could greatly improve the effectiveness of risk mitigating actions.

4.    The organization obtains or generates and uses relevant, quality information to support the functioning of internal control. (COSO Principle 13)

Control systems need to provide accurate, relevant and timely information to enable management to have a more pro-active than a re-active approach towards internal changes in the business.

5.    The organization selects, develops, and performs ongoing and/or separate evaluations to ascertain whether the components of internal control are present and functioning. (COSO Principle 16)

As manufacturing processes and systems evolve and change over time, so should the internal controls and monitoring systems to stay current and relevant.   Regular evaluations and updating of internal controls are essential to ensure that internal controls are present and functioning.

Focusing on these key areas will enable large manufacturing companies to use their resources more effectively and help them to better define their operational goals and objectives to ultimately become more competitive and successful!

At LBA Haynes Strand we have a group of qualified and experienced professionals with internal controls and manufacturing experience to assist your manufacturing company to implement an effective and efficient internal controls framework. Click the button below for your no-cost consultation today!

Individual North Carolina Tax Law Changes – This May Affect You!

Tax laws are constantly evolving. Below you can find the most recent tax law change that will affect individual taxpayers in North Carolina:

The North Carolina 2016 Appropriations Act (H1030) was signed into law by the governor on July 14, 2016. While the majority of the Act is the state budget for the year there was one provision included that may affect your 2016 and 2017 individual tax returns.  The standard deduction amounts for 2016 and 2017 were increased by $1,000 for married individuals filing joint returns, $500 for single individuals and married individuals filling separate returns, and $800 for individuals filing as head of household.  So, if the standard deduction of $16,500 for married joint, $13,200 for head of household, or $8,250 for single and married separate is more than your itemized deductions consisting of medical expenses, real estate taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions in 2016 your tax may be reduced.

If you have questions, contact the LBA Haynes Strand team today for a no-cost consultation!