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March 20, 2014

Last month, the IRS Transfer Pricing Operations (TPO) team issued a Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap. The roadmap is intended to assist IRS examination teams with developing and auditing transfer pricing issues.

Audit cycles will depend upon the complexity involved with issues under examination, but the IRS has developed a 24-month timeline to guide the process from fact finding to resolution. Examiners will be utilizing Forms 5471, 5472, 8833, 8858, 8865, 926, UTPs and schedule M-3 to perform initial analysis, issue identification, and risk assessment.

With the pragmatic revenue raising goals involved with transfer pricing audits, the TPO is focused on developing high risk issues around intangibles, hybrid instruments, and other perceived income shifting transactions. Also, taxpayers' worldwide effective tax rates and risk based assessments based on industry profitability ratios will be used to identify and select transfer pricing audit targets.

Transfer pricing is an area of risk quickly escalating beyond just tax and finance departments as executives are increasingly recognizing the significant financial risks, controversy risks, and reputational risks that must be strategically assessed and mitigated. Quality transfer pricing documentation provides the taxpayer the opportunity to tell a “compelling story” to the IRS and may provide protection from penalties if prepared contemporaneously.

Even with transfer pricing documentation in hand, taxpayers should be prepared for examiners to request increasing amounts of background documentation and source information, including:

  • Intercompany agreements
  • Financial and accounting data
  • Employee details
  • Entity structure information

The transfer pricing audit roadmap is one more step in the increasing focus the IRS is placing on transfer pricing, coinciding with mounting foreign country focus on transfer pricing. Countries are increasingly prioritizing transfer pricing enforcement as a necessary tax base defense and probable revenue raiser. Media attention is bringing transfer pricing risk into the forefront for multinational executives, and global initiatives such as the OECD Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS) project reflect the global appetite for transparency and corporate responsibility.

If you have further questions about the Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, contact Josh Finfrock at jfinfrock@cbiz.com or 901.685.5575.    

March 18, 2014

CPAs: The question is not if your client will incur a data breach but when your client will incur a data breach.

As a trusted advisor to your clients, you should be discussing and reviewing your clients’ cyber security postures throughout the year. The last thing you want to see is a data breach that lands your client on the front page of the news.  As we have learned recently with Target and Nieman Marcus, data breaches can be very costly. Many merchants are still not aware of their Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance requirement and, therefore, have never reported their PCI status. Typically, when a merchant account is established, there is a legal statement on the Merchant Agreement that notes, “The merchant must maintain PCI compliance at all times.” Many merchants fail to recognize the importance of this legal statement. 

Today, failure to follow PCI compliance can lead the merchant to incur fines, or worst case, lose their ability to take credit cards. Those clients who have cyber insurance could also possibly jeopardize their policy coverage.

How can you help your clients avoid this fate?

As part of the year-in-review discussions with your clients, you should pay careful attention to identifying if they take debit/credit cards as a form of payment. Since any client who takes a debit/credit card must report their PCI compliance posture annually, this yearly touch presents an opportunity for you to ensure your clients are aware of the PCI compliance mandate. Take these proactive steps each year to reduce your clients’ risks of PCI non-compliance:

  1. Recognize whether your clients take debit/credit cards as a form of payment;
  2. Inform your clients that they must report their PCI compliance status annually, and failure to do so could result in fines or loss of ability to accept debit/credit cards.
  3. If your clients do need assistance with their PCI compliance, make sure to refer them to a Qualified Security Assessor Company certified by the PCI Security Standards Council.

Educating your clients is critical in limiting credit card data exposure and complying with the annual PCI mandate. The gamble of PCI non-compliance is not worth the risks.  

If you have further questions regarding PCI compliance or data security standards, visit www.cbiz.com/pci or email the CBIZ SAS team at pci@cbiz.com.

March 11, 2014

CBIZ MHM Memphis, along with Howell Marketing Strategies and First State Bank, hosted its second annual Women & Business Cocktail Party at Lexus of Memphis February 26, 2014.

This year, 80 women (and men) in business attended the event to mix and mingle over wine and delicious hors d’oeurvres catered by Parties in a Pinch. The event was held from 5-7 p.m., and the setting allowed for in-depth conversation and networking. While attendees were free to come and go as they pleased, most came and stayed past the 7 o'clock hour making new connections and discussing best practices.

The cocktail party preceded the Women & Business Seminar hosted by The Daily News at the Brooks Museum on February 27, 2014. The afternoon event featured keynote, Amy Howell, co-author of Women in High Gear. A Q&A session with panelists Robbin Hutton of Jackson Lewis, Leslie Johnson of Hutchison Leads, and our own Linda Lauer, Managing Director at CBIZ MHM Memphis and Executive Board member of CBIZ Women's Advantage followed Howell's presentation.

The two-hour seminar was a sold-out event. Eric Barnes, Publisher of The Daily News, noted in his opening comments that it was one of the largest events they had ever hosted.

Questions covered in the Q&A section were asked by both men and women and ranged from finding a work/life balance to handling a multi-generational workforce. Additionally, conversations centered around encouraging young women to work together and pursue careers in more traditionally male-dominated fields, such as accounting and law. The exchange was engaging, and Linda Lauer noted this forum for expression "can only further the cause for equal opportunity in the workplace."  You can read a full recap of the event here.

In its second year running, the two-day Women & Business event has shown tremendous growth in the Memphis community.  If you would like more information about CBIZ Women's Advantage, contact Linda Lauer at 901.685.5575 or llauer@cbiz.com.    

March 4, 2014

Are you filing Form 5500 for your health and welfare benefit plans? 

If you have over 100 eligible participants, you should be filing an annual Form 5500 with the Department of Labor (DOL). ERISA requires welfare benefit plans to file this form with the DOL. It must be filed by the last day of the seventh month following the plan’s year end; however, a plan sponsor can request an extension of up to two and a half months. Small plans (defined as having less than 100 eligible participants on the first day of the plan year) do not have to file a Form 5500 if they are fully insured, unfunded, or a combination of fully insured and unfunded. 

Often times, plan sponsors, who have not previously filed a Form 5500, fail to start filing the form once the eligible participants reach 100 or more. The ultimate responsibility lies with the plan sponsor to determine when they reach the threshold and are required to begin filing the Form 5500.

The penalties for failure to file the Form 5500 can be up to $1,100 per day on the plan sponsor. Fortunately, the DOL provides plan administrators reduced penalties for voluntarily complying with the annual filing requirements through the DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program. Late filings submitted through this program are subject to a flat penalty amount [which is substantially less than the penalties that could be imposed by the DOL (and the IRS) for the failure to file outside of this program]. This penalty is generally capped at $2,000 per plan per year, with a maximum $4,000 penalty per plan (so, regardless of how many years are filed for the same plan, the penalty will be capped at $4,000).

If you have questions regarding filing an annual Form 5500, please contact Linda Lauer at llauer@cbiz.com or (901) 685.5575.  

March 3, 2014

As noted in our recent post on Understanding the 3.8% Medicare Tax on Net Investment Income, final instructions for Form 8960, the one page form used to report the calculation of Net Investment Income (NII), were yet to be released. On Wednesday night, February 26, 2014, the IRS posted the final instructions for the form, though the form itself has been finalized since early January.

Changes in the underlying worksheets in the instructions were mostly clarifying in nature, but a few changes could impact calculations of the tax in certain circumstances:

  • Line 5b adjustment: An active calculation has been added when you have a capital loss carryover to the next year. In the draft instructions, this line was N/A for 2013. This adjustment would apply in only limited circumstances, but if you have a capital loss carryover to 2014 and have any other line item adjustments to line 2, you should review these calculations.
  • Application of itemized deduction limited on deductions allocable to NII: This worksheet now includes a line for "gambling losses" which it did not include in the draft instructions. If you have a return with deductible gambling losses, you should review these calculations.

Lack of complete guidance from the IRS may have slowed down the filing process for some taxpayers, as software vendors were waiting for final instructions to be released. Now that additional guidance is available, we should see vendors begin to finalize the form over the next few weeks allowing all taxpayers to file returns that include Form 8960. To see both the draft and final instructions, click on the links below:

If you are an individual subject to the 3.8% Medicare tax, keep in mind that there are potential planning ideas such as examining passive and nonpassive activities, grouping elections for material participation and/or considering the election to become a “real estate professional.” These opportunities could provide you some relief by minimizing your tax, which we will expand upon in a future post.

If you have further questions about this newly implemented tax, feel free to contact Bryan Koch at bkoch@cbiz.com or 901.685.5575.


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