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January 2017
In This Issue
Important News Alert
Deadline Approaching! 

 Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC must be submitted to the IRS by January 31, 2017.

This is a change from prior years, when the forms were due to the employee or recipient by January 31st, but due to the IRS by February 28th (or March 31st if filed electronically). Read more about the changes here.
Tax Planning Guide
Access Bernard Robinson & Company's 2016-2017 Tax Planning Guide here!
Your BRC Team
In December, we held the great BRC Face-Off mustache challenge, raising $500 for the Movember Foundation supporting men's health.  

Noteworthy Links
IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses & Self-Employed
Reminder: Employers Face New Jan. 31 W-2 Filing Deadline; Some Refunds Delayed Until Feb. 15
2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced
2017 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 23 for Nation's Taxpayers, Tax Returns Due April 18
New Two-Stage E-mail Scheme Targets Tax Professionals
1947-2017: Celebrating 70 Years of BRC
By Wade Pack, CPA, Managing Partner

2017 marks the 70th anniversary for Bernard Robinson & Company!  BRC has been blessed over the last 70 years to have worked with and advised many valued clients.  From our three founders, Bernie Robinson, Joe Robinson and Joe Kent, we have grown into a multi-office firm of 130 professionals.  This was made possible because Bernie, Joe and Joe strongly believed in providing excellent, high quality client service, and in making BRC a great place to work for its staff.  Those values that originated with our founders still define our firm today.
Throughout this year we will share with you more stories of our Bernard Robinson & Company history here in our BRC Strategy newsletter.  So please join us in celebrating our 70th anniversary as we look forward to continuing to serve you, our valued clients.
Technology and Work-Life Balance - The Good & The Bad
By Ashley Khan, CPA, Senior Manager

It's Wednesday afternoon, and I am sitting on a bench watching my daughter's tennis match.  I reach for my phone, and glance over the emails that I received since I left the office an hour ago.  I type a quick response to a couple of messages and as I turn my attention back to the match, I reflect on how much of an impact that technology has on my work/life balance as a working parent. 

Ten years ago, many professionals could only work from their offices.  Although there was the ability to work from home, the connectivity was spotty and slow, making it almost impossible to get any significant amount of work completed outside of the office.  Today, things are much different.  Systems like Citrix and ever-increasing internet speeds make working from home virtually the same as working in the office.  Many companies actually provide hardware like computers or extra monitors for use at home, encouraging employees to work from home and making them more productive outside of the office.  Being able to work from home when a child is sick or being able to come home from work, have dinner with your family and then continue working from home are benefits that are priceless to most employees.  Although technology sometimes blurs the line between being at work and being at home, I, personally, am happy to log on at night knowing that I was able to be there for my daughter during her tennis match.

On the flip side, having your email available in your pocket at all times makes it very tempting to reach for it every few minutes.  It is important that you set your own boundaries for checking your email and handling work related tasks and make your availability clear to others.  There are endless ways to do so, and you will have to find what works best for you.  Perhaps you don't check your email from the time you get home until after the kids are in bed, or perhaps you don't check email after business hours at all.  If you are an employer, you should be careful not to expect your employees to answer emails any time of day or night, since this may result in burn out and eventually result in you losing a valuable employee.

As long as you are managing it correctly, technology has afforded us more flexibility than we could have ever imagined possible, and is greatly enhancing our work/life balance.
Did I Purchase an Asset or a Business?
By Nathaniel Jordan, CPA, Manager

Earlier this month, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) published the first Accounting Standards Update (ASU) of 2017.  ASU 2017-01 - Business Combinations (Topic 805): Clarifying the Definition of a Business was issued to help guide entities in determining whether to account for certain transactions as acquisitions and disposals of assets or as acquisitions and disposals of businesses.  FASB issued the update in response to feedback that the current definition of a business was broad enough that transactions appearing to be asset purchases were actually being accounted for as business acquisitions.  The amendments in ASU 2017-01 are expected to reduce the complexity of analyzing these transactions as a result of the revised definition of a business.  Additionally, more transactions currently being accounted for as business combinations will be accounted for as asset purchases.  Entities engaging in asset purchase transactions have relatively less complex accounting rules as compared to those engaging in business acquisition transactions.

According to the amendments in ASU 2017-01, a business will be defined as an integrated set of activities and assets (set) that is capable of being conducted and managed for the purpose of providing a return in the form of dividends, lower costs, or other economic benefits directly to investors or other owners, members, or participants.  The guidance in the update gives entities a way to evaluate whether or not a set is a business.  The update says that a set is not considered a business if the fair value of the gross assets acquired is concentrated in a single identifiable asset or a group of similar identifiable assets.  In those cases, the transactions would be accounted for as asset purchases.  If the fair value of the gross assets is not concentrated in this manner, further analysis is required.  The next step is to determine whether or not a set includes an input and a substantive process that together significantly contribute to the ability to create output.  If the set does include those components, it is considered a business, and any transactions should be accounted for as business acquisitions or disposals.

The amendments in ASU 2017-01 will become effective for public entities for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, and for interim periods within those annual periods.  For all other entities, the amendments will become effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, and for interim periods within annual periods beginning after December 15, 2019.    

Please consult a CPA to determine the effect that ASU 2017-01 will have on your business and to allow your business sufficient time to plan for these changes. 
Fraud Series: Taking Fraud Offline While Online
By John Shields, CPA, Senior Accountant

When the topic of fraud comes up in conversation or on the news, it usually involves a well-known company or individual engaging in an elaborate scheme, getting caught, and suffering major consequences. Over the next six months, we will emphasize how fraud is more than an occasional newsworthy story. It can impact anyone, at anytime, in potentially devastating ways.  We hope these articles will provide simple and effective solutions to keep fraud out of your life story. 

In this issue, we will focus on something routine - using the internet. Over 80% of Americans today use the internet and over 70% use a personal computer.  If you are one of these people, how well do you protect your sensitive information online?  Below are three simple tips to ensure better security and peace of mind while using your computer:
1) Stop and think before you click.  Most everyday computer fraud can be prevented by stopping and analyzing emails and websites and asking, "Is this strange?" or "Is this too good to be true?" If an email seems odd, examine it more closely before clicking on any content. Take a look at the sender's email address.  Do you recognize the name, and is the address spelled correctly? If not, these are signs the email could be fraudulent.  Analyze links contained within the email by using your mouse to hover the cursor over the link without clicking.  A web address will appear, allowing the user to see the link's destination.  A company or individual requiring sensitive information should never request it over email or social media.  If you are uncertain whether the sender is legitimate, research the party's phone number and call directly.
2) Create strong passwords, especially over sensitive documents and websites containing sensitive information. Each letter, number or symbol added to a password makes it exponentially stronger.  Passwords should never be information easily attainable such as birthdays, family names, or addresses.  People often write down their passwords because they feel they have too many, they are easy to forget, and they have to change them frequently.  Instead, try choosing a password that describes something unique to you.  Substitute numbers and symbols for several letters in that password, and develop a method to make subtle, future changes.
3) Regularly update your computer's operating system, spyware and virus protection, and firewall. Fraudsters are constantly inventing new ways to access your sensitive information.  Updating these items regularly will ensure you have the latest protection in the event your computer is compromised.

Nothing can completely prevent your computer from being compromised, but implementing tips like these will significantly lower the risk.  Additional tips, as well as the latest news on fraud impacting North Carolina, can be found on the NC Department of Justice website:

Bernard Robinson & Company, L.L.P. | (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.