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In This Issue
Tax Planning Guide
Access Bernard Robinson & Company's 2015-2016 Tax Planning Guide here!

Your BRC Team
Congratulations to Irish Thurston for winning the 3rd Quarter Employee Recognition Award!

Noteworthy Links
IRS Seeks Taxpayer Help Battling Tax Refund Fraud
Financial Nudging Works
Important Tax Law Changes for Employers, Pension Payers, and Others that Withhold NC Income Tax
Five Ways to Slash Your Tax Liability in Retirement
Tuition Can't Keep Pace With Inflation as Colleges Struggle
Have Butterfingers? How to Tell if Smart Phone Insurance is Worth It
Happy Thanksgiving

We hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! Are you hosting family and friends on Thursday? If so, here are some tips for a stress free holiday and find out what the average meal might cost you.

November 2015 
A Message of Thanks
Happy Thanksgiving from BRC

From the members of our BRC family in our Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem offices, we wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving holiday!  

And on behalf of everyone here at Bernard Robinson and Company, I want to thank you for the continued opportunity to work with you as your trusted advisor.  We never take that opportunity for granted, constantly striving to ensure that you can count on us to deliver our services to you in a timely fashion and with the utmost quality -- our way of saying "Thank You!"

Wade Pack, 
Managing Partner
Small Business Retirement Plans
Retirement Plan Opportunities for Small Business Owners and Sole Proprietors
By Justin White, CPA, Supervisor

Does your retirement plan maximize the use of tax deferred accounts and align your savings with your goals for the future? Do you know that in 2015 and 2016 you may be able to save up to $53,000 in a tax deferred retirement account and deduct it as an expense on your tax return? Small business owners and sole proprietors have access to a variety of retirement plans that will not only help to reduce their tax liability, but also to save for retirement. The four primary options include the Simplified Employee Pension IRA ("SEP"), the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRA ("SIMPLE"), the solo 401(k) plan (also referred to as the self-employed or individual 401(k)), and the traditional 401(k) plan.

When analyzing retirement plan options, small business owners must first consider the amount of desired savings they would like to contribute annually to retirement, their annual business income, and their desired contribution percentage. Small business owners can utilize these plans as a tool to help attract and retain top employees. Owners of existing small businesses should consider the number of employees on staff and if they would like for their employees to have the ability to contribute to the plan. (Continue)
Estate Planning Series, Part 2
New Estate and Tax Planning Opportunity
By Genie Petrangeli, CPA, Senior Manager

For many years, the focus of estate planning was the gifting of assets during one's lifetime to remove the appreciation from his or her estate and reduce estate taxes at death.  In 2015, the federal estate/gift exemption is $5,430,000 per person. The amount is adjusted annually for inflation and will be increased to $5,450,000 in 2016.  Transfers in excess of the exemption amount are subject to the estate tax rate of 40%. For taxpayers who are in the top income tax bracket of 39.6%, the capital gain rate is 20% and there is an added 3.8% tax on net investment income.  When you factor in state tax rates, the differential between the estate tax rate and the income tax rates are not as drastic as they were in the past.

Taxpayers are now faced with the decision to gift assets during their lifetime or to retain low-basis assets until death to obtain a step-up in basis. When a recipient receives an asset, the tax basis depends on whether the transfer is by gift or inheritance.  With a transfer by gift, the recipient takes the donor's basis in the property, which is referred to as "carryover" basis.  Alternatively, property received by inheritance generally assumes the property's fair market value at the date of death.  This is referred to as "stepped-up" basis.  A primary tax benefit of gifting during lifetime is that the asset's future appreciation is removed from the owner's estate, potentially saving federal and state taxes.  A detriment to gifting is that the recipients lose the favorable step-up in basis at death and will possibly pay income tax on the built-in gain.  (Continue)
Tax Identity Theft
My SSN Was Used By Someone Else, Now What?
By Judy Hernandez, CPA, Manager

As tax-related identity theft is a growing problem, knowing what to be mindful of should you become a victim of tax-related identity theft is important.

According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft occurs when your social security number is used by another individual to file a tax return seeking a fraudulent refund.  Often, your only notification of such theft occurs when you receive an IRS notice.  Common notices indicating a possible identity theft include: 1) multiple returns filed with your Social Security Number, 2) additional tax liability exists, 3) refund reduced due to a refund offset for another liability, 4) collection actions against you for a year you did not file a tax return, and 5) records indicate you received wages from an employer for whom you did not work.

If you receive a notice from the IRS, contact an experienced tax professional for further assistance or call the IRS directly, using the phone number provided on the written notice. 

To protect yourself from further harm, you should: 1) file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS, Form 14039, 2) notify the Federal Trade Commission, 3) review your credit report from at least one of the three major credit bureaus, 4) place a fraud alert with a major credit bureau, 5) file a local police report, 6) verify your earnings with the Social Security Administration, and 7) determine if notification or special filings are required for the states in which you file a tax return.  Once you have reviewed your credit report, contact any company with which you currently have accounts to alert them to the identity theft and contact any company on the report with which you did not authorize an account.

Once the IRS confirms you are a victim of identity theft, you may request a copy of the fraudulently filed return by following the steps provided here.The IRS website also provides steps on how to reduce becoming a victim of tax related identity theft

Should you find yourself the victim of tax-related identity theft, please notify your tax return preparer; the IRS will assign an identity protection PIN used to electronically file your tax return for at least the next 3 years.

If you are unsure of what to do or would like assistance navigating the process, please contact an experienced tax professional.  

Bernard Robinson & Company | (336) 294-4494 |  [email protected] |
1501 Highwoods Blvd, Ste 300
Greensboro, NC 27410
BRC Strategy is designed to provide information of a general nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation and advice.  The opinions and interpretations expressed should not be construed or used as legal or tax advice, written or otherwise, and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under federal, state or local law.