Helpful comments from 2017 CalCPA Not-for-profit conference, part 1

May 30, 2017, 7:45 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are a few of the comments from the May 24, 2017 Not-for-profit conference presented by California Society of CPAs that I thought would be of interest to others in the nonprofit community. Since all comments are the opinion of the speaker, neither their names nor organizations will be mentioned. The ideas mentioned can stand or fall on their own.

This is the first of two posts. The next discussion will address changes in financial statement presentation outlined in ASU 2016-14. In this post: tax, revenue recognition, and single audit.

Tax update:

  • It might just be possible that filing a form 1023 or 1023-EZ is so easy that people can get exempt status for an organization without knowing the requirements to properly operate a charity and maintain exempt status. In examinations to follow-up after exempt status is approved, the IRS is finding a lot of charities are out of compliance.
  • One of several focuses of the IRS is filing of FBARs, those forms used to report overseas bank accounts. One ripple effect of chasing money laundering is the impact on charities who have overseas accounts. Even though there is minimal risk of those accounts being used for tax evasion the FBAR filing requirement still apply. As a reminder, the deadline for filing FBARs is now April 15 with a six-month extension available.

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Do some research on the Executive Order addressing religious freedom

May 5, 2017, 8:07 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

I don’t do politics on my blogs.

I do pay attention to issues affecting non-profits.

So when the president issues an Executive Order addressing religious freedom, it is worth discussing even though it is a politically loaded EO.

On May 4, the president issued an EO which reportedly pulls back on the ban against churches getting involved in political campaigns.

In a one sentence overstatement, under current law 501(c)(3) exempt organizations may not involve themselves in political campaigns and may only get involved in very limited ways in legislative efforts. Ok, I’ll add a second sentence – That means churches and other exempt organizations may not endorse or favor a political candidate but may exert some effort addressing matters before a legislative body.

Based only on initial reports, the EO appears to contain several major items. First, telling the IRS to use maximum discretion in applying the rules on the political ban. Second, telling the Attorney General to develop guidelines for federal agencies on how they apply their rules in terms of religious freedom. Third, asking federal agencies to make certain changes in health care requirements regarding contraceptive coverage.

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Tips for churches on how not to mess up your payroll taxes

February 14, 2017, 8:30 am
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Church Law & Tax, site for Richard Hammar’s writing on issues affecting churches, recently tweeted about their presentation of Five Common Payroll Issues Ministries Face Slideshow.

If you are in a church, or any parachurch ministry for that matter, it would be worth your time to read through the slide deck.

I’ll guess this is old news for most people. However, if you see something that you don’t understand or seems contrary to how you are doing things, you might want to take that as a warning you ought to do some research. I’ll mention just a few highlights.

Remember to report the following as income (see slides 8 and 9): Read the rest of this entry »


Another scam to beware: phishing for W-2 info

February 7, 2017, 7:26 am
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ok, so you know it is a scam if you get a call from “the IRS” saying you have to pay your tax bill right this instant because the local cops are on the way to arrest you.

If you get one of those calls, hang up. Don’t even talk.

Here’s the newest phishing scam now starting to hit charities.

Kelly Phillips Erb explains the new scheme: IRS Issues Urgent Alert as W-2 Phishing Scam Spreads During Tax Season.

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In case you hadn’t hear, those telephone calls claiming to be from the IRS demanding you immediately pay back taxes are a scam.

January 9, 2017, 10:34 am
Wouldn't it be nice if the  phone id actually was that accurate for every call? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the caller ID was actually that accurate for every call? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The most frequent scam in 2016 was the phone calls saying “This is the IRS and if you don’t pay your past due taxes this instant we will send someone to your house to arrest you right now.”

There are many things wrong with those calls.

As a starter, your first contact with the IRS will never be by phone. You will instead get a letter explaining what the IRS thinks you messed up.

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Standard IRS mileage rates for 2017

December 13, 2016, 7:29 pm
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The IRS announced the standard mileage rates for 2017 today. New rate for transportation and reimbursements is 53.5 cents. That is down from 54 cents in 2016.

According to IRS comments in Notice 2016-79:

The standard mileage rate for transportation or travel expenses is 53.5 cents per mile for all miles of business use (business standard mileage rate). See section 4 of Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

The standard mileage rate is 14 cents per mile for use of an automobile in rendering gratuitous services to a charitable organization under § 170. See section 5 of Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

The standard mileage rate is 17 cents per mile for use of an automobile (1) for medical care described in § 213, or (2) as part of a move for which the expenses are deductible under § 217.

Standard rates for the last few years:


Free resource explaining overtime rules

December 2, 2016, 8:36 am
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has published a concise, free resource explaining many of the rules of overtime, especially in the context of the charity world.

You can find it here and get a copy merely by giving them your email address. Not to worry – I don’t think they are going to overload you with spam – I’ve signed up for several things from them and the only emails I get are for free resources and invitations to webinars that are actually of interest. Oh, and news that is of interest to those of us in the charity world.

Oh, did I say it was free?