Author: Amy Bloomgren

Avoid Penalties – Ensure Accuracy of Wage Reporting

The Social Security Administration has started mailing informational notifications to employers that submitted W-2s for 2017 that contained mismatched name and Social Security numbers, based on agency records. 200,000 notification letters are sent every two weeks. The notification informs the employers that they are to receive an educational correspondence letter in 2019 with a request to review and correct business records. SSA letters for W-2s filed for 2018 will start going out in February 2019.

The SSA notes on its website that there are several reasons why reported names and numbers may disagree with SSA records, such as typos, unreported name changes, and inaccurate or incomplete employer records. Penalties for these types or errors can be assessed up to $260 per W-2 in 2018 and $270 in 2019.

Employers can ensure the accuracy of wage reporting for their employees by registering for the SSA’s Business Services Online (BSO) portal. From the portal, employers may review name and Social Security number information submitted on the W-2, find and resolve errors, verify Social Security numbers and learn what to do if there is a mismatch with federal records.

IL & WI Will Require Sales Tax Collection by Internet Sellers

Illinois and Wisconsin, along with 28 other states are acting to pass laws or regulations to require sales tax collection by remote sellers now or in the immediate future.

Wisconsin Department of Revenue has announced that it will require sales tax collection by internet sellers with sales of at least $100,000 or more than 200 transactions annually, effective October 1, 2018.

Illinois adopts a $100,000 or 200-transaction threshold (determined at the end of each March, June, September, and December for the previous 12 months), with an effective date of October 1, 2018. 

On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair that South Dakota can require collection of its sales tax on sales to its residents by out-of-state internet retailers. The new rule, articulated in Wayfair, is that a state sales tax can be constitutionally collected so long as it does not discriminate against or place excessive burdens on those engaging in interstate commerce.

The Court provided a checklist of factors present in South Dakota law that strongly suggested why it would be constitutional under this standard:

  1. Safe harbor: Exclude “those who transact only limited business” in the state. (South Dakota’s is $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions.)
  2. No retroactive collection.
  3. Single state-level administration of all sales taxes in the state.
  4. Uniform definitions of products and services.
  5. Simplified tax rate structure. (South Dakota requires the same tax base between state and local sales tax, has only three sales tax rates, and limited exemptions from the tax.)
  6. Software: access to sales tax administration software provided by the state.
  7. Immunity: sellers who use the software are not liable for errors derived from relying on it.

Since the decision, states have begun considering actions that they might need to take to collect sales tax on internet transactions while adhering to the Wayfair decision.  Legislators may make several policy choices when complying with the Wayfair checklist:

  • Adopt the same threshold as South Dakota ($100,000 in sales or 200 transactions) or a more generous one to account for larger population size or larger economy.
  • Decide when the threshold period is measured.
  • Setting an enforcement start date.
  • Consider repealing click-through nexus and notice-and-reporting laws.
  • Decide how to collect local sales taxes.
  • Decide use of the revenue.

For further information please refer to Post-Wayfair Options for States or contact us today!

Wisconsin Sales Tax Holiday – August 1-5, 2018


A sales tax holiday is a temporary exemption period where sales of certain items are exempt from Wisconsin sales and use tax.

The five-day temporary exemption period will begin on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, and continue through Sunday, August 5, 2018.

During the sales tax holiday, the following items are not taxable:

  • Clothing, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less
  • A computer purchased by a consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of the computer is $750 or less
  • School computer supplies purchased by the consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of any single item is $250 or less
  • School supplies, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less

Answers to common questions and printable lists for exempt and taxable items during the sales tax holiday can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s website located here.

Child Sales Tax Rebate

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is offering a $100 (per child) sales tax rebate for dependent children.

Sound fiscal management and a strong economy have resulted in a state budget surplus of almost $400 million for the state of Wisconsin. Recently, a law passed to return some of that surplus to taxpayers in the form of a Child Sales Tax Rebate. If you’re eligible, you can claim it between May 15 and July 2. 

What is the Child Sales Tax Rebate?

It is a $100 rebate for sales and use tax paid on purchases made for raising a dependent child in 2017. You may claim $100 for each qualified child.

Who can claim the Child Sales Tax rebate?

If you have a qualified child, you’re likely eligible. A child may only be claimed by one individual.

A qualified child must be:

  • Under age 18 on December 31, 2017
  • A dependent of the claimant for tax year 2017
  • A Wisconsin resident on December 31, 2017
  • A United States citizen

How do I claim my $100 (per child) Child Sales Tax Rebate?

The fastest and most convenient way is to go to Child Sales Tax Rebate where you will find more details, frequently asked questions and information. You can apply for the Child Sales Tax Rebate online 24/7, May 15 – July 2.

If after trying the website above, you still have questions, please feel free to contact us.


When it’s Safe to CLEAN Out Those Old Tax Records

The long, grueling, 90 days of winter have passed and Spring is finally upon us. The daylight is longer, the sun is warmer, the birds are singing and the trees and flowers are in bloom. It’s time to finally open the windows and let the fresh air in! It’s also a perfect time for “spring” cleaning around the house and the office.  Remove the cobwebs and declutter those desk drawers and file cabinets.

Keep or Toss? That is often times the daunting question when going through those old tax documents or accounting records. It is extremely important to hold on to business records in the case of an IRS audit or other type of examination. However, retaining unnecessary records take up valuable storage space that could be made available for more important documents.

We know how overwhelming not knowing which papers to keep or which ones to shred can be. That is why we’ve created a Records Retention Guide for Businesses. With this reference guide your spring cleaning will be done in no time and you’ll be ready to open those windows and just sit back and relax and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Please contact us if you have any questions or uncertainties about destroying any tax documents or accounting records.


IRS Warns on ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams

With just over two weeks away until Tax Day,  the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is encouraging taxpayers to remain vigilant about the aggressive and evolving tax scams seen throughout the year.

The IRS has issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams highlighting a variety of schemes, many of which peak during tax-filing season. The IRS warns that taxpayers need to guard against ploys to steal their personal information and they should be wary of shady promoters trying to scam them out of money or talk them into engaging in questionable tax schemes. Knowing about the scams can help you take steps to protect your personal and financial information.

Here is the list of this year’s “Dirty Dozen” scams:

Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or tax refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information. (IR-2018-39)

Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. (IR-2018-40)

Identity Theft: Taxpayers should be alert to tactics aimed at stealing their identities, not just during the tax filing season, but all year long. The IRS, working in the Security Summit partnership with the states and the tax industry, has made major improvements in detecting tax return related identity theft during the last two years. But the agency reminds taxpayers that they can help in preventing this crime. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using someone else’s Social Security number. (IR-2018-42)

Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who operate each filing season to scam clients, perpetuating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. (IR-2018-45)

Fake Charities: Groups masquerading as charitable organizations solicit donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate charities. has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations. (IR-2018-47)

Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should take note of anyone promising inflated tax refunds. Those preparers who ask clients to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at taxpayer records or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund are probably up to no good. To find victims, fraudsters may use flyers, phony storefronts or word of mouth via community groups where trust is high. (IR-2018-48)

Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid improperly claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit generally not available to most taxpayers. The credit is usually limited to off-highway business use, including use in farming. Taxpayers should also avoid misuse of the research credit. Improper claims often involve failures to participate in or substantiate qualified research activities or satisfy the requirements related to qualified research expenses. (IR-2018-49)

Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsely inflate deductions or expenses on their tax returns to pay less than what they owe or potentially receive larger refunds. Think twice before overstating deductions, such as charitable contributions and business expenses, or improperly claiming credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. (IR-2018-54)

Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Con artists may convince unsuspecting taxpayers to invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers should file the most accurate tax return possible because they are legally responsible for what is on their return. This scam can lead to taxpayers facing large bills to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. (IR-2018-55)

Frivolous Tax Arguments: Frivolous tax arguments may be used to avoid paying tax. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims about the legality of paying taxes despite being repeatedly thrown out in court. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000. (IR-2018-58)

Abusive Tax Shelters: Abusive tax structures are sometimes used to avoid paying taxes. The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered. (IR-2018-62)

Offshore Tax Avoidance: Successful enforcement actions against offshore cheating show it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. People involved in offshore tax avoidance are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting caught up on their tax-filing responsibilities. (IR-2018-64)

Support for QuickBooks 2015 Ends May 31, 2018

If you haven’t heard, on May 31, 2018, support for QuickBooks Desktop 2015 products will end. This includes all versions of QuickBooks Desktop 2015 (Pro, Premier, Enterprise Solutions, Accountant Edition, and Mac). If you are using payroll, merchant services, technical support or other QuickBooks add-on services, this is a VERY big deal. We encourage you to upgrade as soon as possible to retain access to add-on services and live support.

To see which 2015 services will be discontinued and how they will affect you, visit Intuit QuickBooks.

If you need help considering your upgrade options, contact us today. We have QuickBooks Advisors on staff that can help walk you through the process so you can make the best informed decisions for you and your business.

IRS Launches New W-4 & Withholding Calculator

By now employers should be using the updated income-tax withholding tables for 2018 which reflects changes made by the tax reform legislation. The marital status chosen on the W-4 will determine how much income tax will be withheld. Personal exemptions are no longer relevant.

On February 28, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service released the new version of Form W-4 as well as an updated Withholding Calculator which gives employees the information they need to fill out the new Form W-4 should changes need to be made.

The new tax law does not affect 2017 tax returns, however, we encourage all employees to review their personal tax situation to see if they need to make any changes to determine their proper withholding for 2018 to avoid any issues when they file next year.


Meals and Entertainment Changes Under Tax Reform


The Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA) enacted extensive changes to the deductibility of meals and entertainment expenses for companies. If you are in the business of entertaining your clients and customers, you will want to know about these changes!

Prior to the TCJA, taxpayers generally could deduct 50% of expenses for business-related meals and entertainment. Further, meals provided to an employee for the convenience of the employer on the employer’s business premises were 100% deductible by the employer and tax-free to the recipient employee. Various other employer-provided fringe benefits were also deductible by the employer and tax-free to the recipient employee.

Under the new law, entertainment expenses paid or incurred after December 31, 2017 are no longer deductible. Employer-provided meals and meals provided for the convenience of the employer are limited to a 50% deduction. After 2025, the cost of meals provided on the employer’s premises will be nondeductible.

Summary of the changes made under the TCJA from 2017 to 2018

2017 Expenses (Old Rules) 2018 Expenses (New Rules)
Office Holiday Parties Summer Office Picnic 100% deductible 100% deductible
Entertaining Clients ~50% deductible ~ Even tickets, 50% deductible for face value of ticket; anything above face value is non-deductible ~ Tickets to qualified charitable events are 100% deductible ~ Meals - 50% deductible ~ No deduction for entertainment expenses
Employee Travel Meals 50% deductible 50% deductible
Meals Provided for Convenience of Employer 100% deductible provided they are excludible from employees’ gross income as de minimis fringe benefits; otherwise, 50% deductible 50% deductible (nondeductible after 2025)
Fringe Benefits ~ Business could deduct the cost of employee parking, transit passes and bike commuting reimbursements, and employees could exclude the benefit from income. ~ Employee achievement awards could consist of anything within a dollar limit of $400 per award and $1,600 for all awards to the employee for the year. ~ Businesses can no longer deduct the cost of employee parking and transit passes (bike commuting reimbursements are still deductible), but employees can still exclude the benefit from income, except bike commuting reimbursements. ~ Employees achievement awards must be tangible personal property and not cash, gift cards, coupons or certificates, nor tickets, meals, vacations, lodging or stocks and bonds. The dollar limits remain unchanged.


Updated 2018 Withholding Tables – Taxpayers Could See Paycheck Changes by February

The Internal Revenue Service released Notice 1036 on January 11, 2018. The notice updated the income-tax withholding tables for 2018 which reflects changes made by the tax reform legislation enacted last month. This is a first in a series of steps that the IRS will take to help improve the accuracy of withholding following major changes made by the new tax law.

Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018. The tables are designed to work with the existing W4s your employees have already filled out. The marital status chosen on the W4 will determine how much income tax will be withheld. Personal exemptions are no longer relevant. The IRS is working on a new W4 form which is scheduled to be released near the end of February. We will send out a notice when they are available.

Many employees will notice a change in their take home pay. Once the IRS releases the new W4, we encourage all employees to review their personal tax situation to see if they need to make any changes.

The IRS has posted a list of frequently asked questions to help explain the new withholding tables. Those FAQs can be accessed by clicking here.