Connect with BRC |  View our profile on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
February 2017
In This Issue
Your BRC Team

Congratulations to Erica Vernon, CPA, Partner in our Greensboro office for being selected by the Triad Business Journal as one of this year's honorees at the annual 40 Leaders Under Forty awards program, an annual event that recognizes young Triad professionals who exhibit exceptional leadership in their careers and their communities. Learn more about Erica by clicking here

Congratulations to Nathaniel Jordan, CPA, and Brie Sisak for winning the 4th Quarter Employee Recognition Award!

Tax Planning Guide
Access Bernard Robinson & Company's 2016-2017 Tax Planning Guide here!
Noteworthy Links
IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses & Self-Employed
IRS: Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts
8 things you need to know when opening up a 401(k)
Don't Get Sucked In By These 2017 Tax Scams
Voices 3 Top Tech Trends for Public Accountants to Watch in 2017
Bernard Robinson: A Brief History
By Freddy Robinson, CPA, Partner

Bernard Robinson & Company, L.L.P. was started by my father, Bernard "Bernie" Robinson in 1947. As we celebrate our 70th anniversary this year and share stories about the firm's history, it is important to understand my father's background and what led him to start his own accounting firm so many years ago.
He was the fifth child born to Reuben and Sarah Robinson on May 4, 1917 (yes, he would be 100 in May). His parents were both born in Poland and immigrated to the United States as teenagers around 1900. Ruben and Sarah were married in 1906. Reuben opened a kosher butcher shop in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His family lived in a five room apartment above his store. Their first child, Louis, was followed by Ruth and twins, Bella and Sylvia. The baby of the family, Joe, was born six years after Bernie, on June 6, 1923.

Bernie went to public schools in Brooklyn. He graduated from City College of New York in 1938 and was hired to work for the Internal Revenue Service. He made quick advancement with the IRS. In 1941, the IRS offered Bernie a promotion to assistant district director with the stipulation that he move to either Green Bay, Wisconsin or Greensboro, North Carolina. Having never lived outside of New York City, he knew nothing about either city, but was sure he didn't want the cold climate of Green Bay.

Bernie arrived in Greensboro essentially not knowing anyone. One of his first actions was to affiliate with a Jewish synagogue in Greensboro. This led to a weekly card game where Bernie quickly made friends with other businessmen and business owners in the community.

World War II interrupted Bernie's IRS career. He enlisted in the Army in 1942. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and was deployed in France during most of the war. One of his most memorable experiences was liberating a Nazi concentration camp after Germany's surrender.

Following his military service, Bernie returned to his IRS job in Greensboro. In late 1946, he made the decision to leave the IRS and go into business for himself. He passed the CPA exam in November of 1946 and was given license number 668 (to give you a frame a reference, today's newest CPAs have license numbers over 40,000). He rented a one room office - number 816 -  in the Jefferson Standard Building (now Lincoln Financial Group) in downtown Greensboro and commenced business as Bernard Robinson, Certified Public Accountant. It is through his weekly card games and other early friendships through the synagogue that Bernie found his first clients. Today, we still provide services to many of these early clients' descendants.  

In addition to starting his own CPA practice in 1946, Bernie also met Gloria Soble while on one of his visits to see his family in New York. Bernie and Gloria were married in April of 1947 and settled back in Greensboro. The accounting practice started well and attracted his baby brother, Joe, to also move from Brooklyn to Greensboro in 1949. Rounding out the three original BRC partners, Joe Kent joined the firm in 1953. Bernie retired as a partner in 1989, but continued to work at the firm until his death in 1994.
Tax Deductions and Planning Opportunities Remaining for 2016
By Jane Phillips, CPA, Manager

Do you want to save taxes on your 2016 tax return?  Although December 31, 2016 has come and gone, there are some 2016 tax deductions and considerations that may still be available to you before you file your 2016 tax return.  First is a tax deductible IRA contribution.  You have until April 18, 2017 to contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 for taxpayers age 50 or older).  You must have earned incomefor 2016 and meet certain criteria for the contribution to be deductible.  Earned income is income from a trade or business, wages, commissions, and bonuses.  Unearned income examples are interest and dividend income.  For families where one spouse has little or no earned income, they may still be eligible to contribute if the other spouse has sufficient earned income to meet the IRA contribution requirements.  Be sure to check with your tax advisor to verify eligibility for the spousal IRA contribution.
Second, if you have earned income in 2016 and don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deductible IRA contribution, you may want to consider contributing to a nondeductible IRA.  For example, if you are single, covered by your employer's retirement plan, and have modified adjusted gross income of $71,000 or more ($118,000 if married filing joint), this may be an alternative to pursue, as it creates additional opportunities.  It involves more paperwork for the taxpayer, but the nondeductible amount contributed into the account is tax-free when withdrawn.
In the event that you contribute to a nondeductible IRA for 2016 as described above, you may want to consider converting it over into a Roth IRA.  Doing so would allow for the funds held in this account to grow tax-free and be withdrawn tax-free.  The amount converted to a Roth IRA would be reduced by the nondeductible contribution amount for purposes of determining the tax liability.  Due to IRA aggregation rules, careful consideration is required to determine if this is appropriate for your situation.  Additionally, you will need to know the amount you have in other deductible IRA accounts prior to making this decision.  Converting the nondeductible IRA to a Roth without this information could lead to an unexpected tax liability.
An effective tax deduction and retirement planning strategy for sole proprietors, or employees of a company who also run a business on the side, is to participate in a Simplified Employee Pension Plan ("SEP").  SEP contributions are allowed up to 25% of net income or $53,000, whichever is less. You have until the due date of the return to make this tax deductible contribution, including the extension deadline of October 16, 2017 if the return is extended.  
Last, HSA contributions not maximized during 2016 may be contributed through April 18, 2017.  The contribution limits are $3,350 for individual accounts and $6,750 for family accounts, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution being allowed for individuals 55 or older.  One great benefit of this tax deduction is that it is not taxable as the account balance grows from year to year, and is also not taxable at the time of distribution as long as the funds are used for a qualifying expenditure.  Just because the 2016 calendar year has ended doesn't mean you are out of options for additional tax savings.  Please contact your tax professional to go over your options.
Six Ways to Ensure Proper Governance of a Nonprofit Organization 
By Kim Ripberger, CPA, Senior Manager

Nonprofit organizations are founded for a social purpose or mission to enrich the surrounding community by serving as stewards of the financial support they receive. This stewardship function requires transparency in an organization's operations through financial accountability and a sound governance structure.  

A nonprofit organization's board of directors monitors this stewardship function. Several best practices to assist in its monitoring are listed below:


1) Monthly Review of Financial Operations-Timely and accurate financial statements should be presented and reviewed by the finance committee or board of directors, as applicable. This presentation should include any variance explanations from the board-approved budget. The board of directors should ensure that its financial statements are audited or reviewed on an annual basis as required by its state law, government funding agreements, or private contributors.

2) Conflict of Interest Policy-The conflict of interest policy identifies the disclosure of possible conflicts that could potentially have a detrimental impact on the organization's reputation. The policy should define any outside interests, gifts received, gratuities, and entertainment that might be considered a conflict. The policy should address the disclosure and voting abstention processes.


3) Whistleblower Policy-The whistleblower policy is tailored to the organization's size, structure, and state law. The policy encourages confidential reporting of concerns without fear of retaliation and specifies individuals within the organization who will handle these concerns.


4) Social Media Policy-The social media policy should define who can represent the organization in any social media communication, including the executive director, staff, board members, and volunteers. The policy should require authorization and approval prior to participation in any such communication to protect the organization's mission and reputation.

5) Disaster Recovery Policy-The disaster recovery policy governs the organization's preparedness related to natural or man-made disasters.  The policy details backing up, preserving, and safeguarding of both electronic and print documents pertaining to its governance, financial, and programmatic operations, including personal data for its employees, volunteers, vendors, and donors.


6) Annual Review of Executive Director's Performance and Compensation-The organization's governing documents should outline the annual evaluation process, including a compensation comparability study for similarly-sized organizations. Regular review determines if the performance measures in the executive director's contract are met and if private inurement as it relates to compensation exists. 

This list provided some guiding principles for best practices; however, it is not an all-inclusive list. Please consult your CPA if you would like to discuss nonprofit governance further.

Trending Now:  Fraud & Identity Theft
By Brittany Grubbs, CPA, Manager

It is April 13, and you are patting yourself on the back for returning your E-file Authorization Form back to your CPA before the tax deadline.  Later that day, your CPA calls to inform you that your tax return was rejected because "a return has already been filed using your Social Security number."  Now what?

No one wants to receive the news that he or she is the victim of identity theft.  However, it is becoming more prevalent every day, and the likelihood that you will become a victim is increasing.  Below are some tips to protect yourself from identity theft, as well as what to do if your identity is stolen.

How to Protect Yourself
  1. Protect your Social Security number.  Only provide it to trusted parties and only when it is required.  Never send your Social Security number through unsecured e-mail.  Do not carry your Social Security card with you on a daily basis.
  2. Use caution on the internet.  Make sure you are using firewalls and antivirus software.  Choose strong passwords.
  3. Trust your gut.  If you receive a phone call or e-mail that seems suspicious, do not provide the caller or sender with personal information.  Instead, investigate the claims in the phone call or e-mail by contacting the agency the caller or sender ­­­claims to be representing directly.  The IRS will initiate contact with taxpayers through the mail, so if you have not received correspondence from them in the mail prior to receiving a phone call, there is a good chance the phone call is not legitimate.
How to Respond to Tax Related Identity Theft
  1. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at
  2. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your credit records.
  3. Contact your financial institutions and close any accounts that were opened without your authorization or that were tampered with by identity thieves.
  4. Respond immediately to any IRS notices received by calling the number provided or going to if instructed by the IRS.
  5. If your return has been fraudulently submitted to the IRS, your CPA can assist you with completing IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit to attach to your tax return that to be paper filed with the IRS.  It will take some time to get the identity theft resolved, so it is important to continue paying your taxes and filing your tax returns, even if you have to file them on paper.
If you have questions about fraudulent tax returns or identity theft, please talk to your tax professional.

Bernard Robinson & Company, L.L.P. | (336) 294-4494 | |
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.