Frazer LLP Blog

2016 IRA contributions: there's still time!

Mar 21, 2017 1:41:22 PM / by Cindy Lim, CPA posted in Tax, IRAs, Retirement Planning

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Yes, there’s still time to make 2016 contributions to your IRA. The deadline for such contributions is April 18, 2017. If the contribution is deductible, it will lower your 2016 tax bill. But even if it isn’t, making a 2016 contribution is likely a good idea.

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2017 Mileage Deduction Rates

Mar 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM / by Jonathan Smeragliuolo, CPA posted in Tax

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Rather than keeping track of the actual cost of operating a vehicle, employees and self-employed taxpayers can use a standard mileage rate to compute their deduction related to using a vehicle for business. But you might also be able to deduct miles driven for other purposes, including medical, moving and charitable purposes.

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Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2017

Mar 7, 2017 11:55:06 AM / by Jane Warren, CPA posted in Retirement Planning

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Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, but with inflation remaining low most of the limits remain unchanged for 2017. The only limit that has increased from the 2016 level is for contributions to defined contribution plans, which has gone up by $1,000.

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Beware of Untimely or Incorrect G5 Expenditures Reporting

Dec 5, 2016 1:44:55 PM / by Steve Bastardi, CPA posted in Institutions of Higher Learning, G5 Expenditures, G5 Reporting

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This is the tenth in a series of 10 blog posts related to the Top 10 Audit Findings of the U.S. Department of Education.

Untimely and/or incorrect reporting of G5 expenditures is the tenth item from a list of audit findings in order of number of deficiencies found.

Regulatory background

G5, formerly known as GAPS, is a delivery system used by Federal Student Aid (FSA) that supports program award and payment (drawdown) administration. It is a component of EDCAPS, U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) integrated financial processing system, managed and administered by the Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and communicates with the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) system through the Financial Management System (FMS).

There are basically two ways of receiving FSA from the ED including the advance payment method and what is known as the heightened cash monitoring method. For various reasons, the Department of Education may place institutions on a Heightened Cash Monitoring (HCM) payment method to provide additional oversight of cash management.

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Modified Audit Opinion? You’re Not Alone.

Nov 29, 2016 1:50:37 PM / by Steve Bastardi, CPA posted in Institutions of Higher Learning, Modified Audit Report, Audit Opinion

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This is the ninth in a series of 10 blog posts related to the Top 10 Audit Findings of the U.S. Department of Education.

A qualified auditor’s opinion cited in the audit report is one of the top 10 audit findings by the U.S. Department of Education. Serious deficiencies and areas of concern included:

  • - R2T4 violations
  • - Inadequate accounting systems and/or procedures
  • - Lack of internal controls

Receiving anything other than an unmodified (unqualified) opinion is a disturbing experience, but it does occur from time to time. It might help to know you’re not alone. Receiving a modified (qualified) audit opinion offers the opportunity to focus improvement efforts in identified areas of weakness in operations, financial reporting and compliance.

Even the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has had its challenges over the years.
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The Role of Entrance and Exit Counseling in Financial Literacy

Nov 22, 2016 12:23:39 PM / by Steve Bastardi, CPA posted in Institutions of Higher Learning, Exit Counseling, Financial Aid, Entrance Counseling

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This is the eighth in a series of 10 blog posts related to the Top 10 Audit Findings of the U.S. Department of Education.

One of the top 10 audit findings, according to the U.S. Department of Education, includes student entrance and exit deficiencies. Indicated deficiencies include:

  • - Entrance counseling not conducted/documented for first-time borrowers.
  • - Exit counseling not conducted/documented for withdrawn students or graduates.
  • - Exit counseling materials not mailed to students who failed to complete counseling.

Whether first-time borrowers, withdrawn students or graduating students, follow through on required entrance and exit counseling can be challenging. Exit counseling, however, becomes a little more challenging considering the circumstances and variables involved with the ways students exit. This doesn’t come as a surprise to most but it only takes one or two off situations to catch the eye of a program reviewer. Let’s consider a short list of the compliance requirements mentioned in the FSA Handbook.

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Beware of New Tax Scam

Sep 30, 2016 4:06:52 PM / by Jeff C. Jones, CPA posted in Tax, CP-2000 Letters, Tax Scam

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A new scam is being circulated to taxpayers:

The IRS has warned that a new scam uses fraudulent notices (CP-2000 letters) to try and extract money from taxpayers. These fraudulent notices look convincing. The balance due amounts are generally low enough that taxpayers may be inclined to pay the amount requested rather than contact their accountants.  

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How should I document business expense deductions?

Sep 19, 2016 3:58:09 PM / by Jane Warren, CPA posted in Tax, Business Expense Deductions

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If you have incomplete or missing records and get audited by the IRS, your business will likely lose out on valuable deductions. Here are two recent U.S. Tax Court cases that help illustrate the rules for documenting deductions: insufficient records and destroyed documents.

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Watch Out for Student Credit Balance Deficiencies

Sep 8, 2016 10:17:47 AM / by Steve Bastardi, CPA posted in Institutions of Higher Learning, Title IV Funds, Student Credit Balance Deficiencies

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This is the seventh in a series of 10 blog posts related to the Top 10 Audit Findings of the U.S. Department of Education.

One of the top 10 audit findings, according to the U.S. Department of Education, includes student credit balance deficiencies. Indicated causes include:

 - Credit balances not released to students within 14 days,
- No process in place to determine when a credit balance has been created,
- Non-compliant authorization to hold Title IV credit balances, and
- Credit balances not released by the end of loan period or award year.

Credit balances can occur in many ways and may be the result of payments from not only Title IV program funds, but also personal funds, private loans, and institutional grants. Also, as you are aware, credit balances may be related to and affected by changes in a student's enrollment status that might affect federal or other aid eligibility. Technically, a Title IV credit balance typically occurs whenever your school credits Title IV program funds to a student’s account and the total amount of those funds exceeds the student’s allowable charges.

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Why do we disclose related party transactions?

Aug 19, 2016 2:10:45 PM / by Bethany Smith, CPA posted in Related Party Transactions, Financial Statements

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A related party transaction is a business deal or arrangement between two parties who are joined by a special relationship prior to the deal. A commonly seen related party transaction is a shareholder owning real estate and having a lease agreement with the corporation he owns shares in for the office space.

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