Cost Segregation

Your Real Estate May Entitle You To Substantial Tax Savings

Many Jones & Roth clients who own real estate have benefited from a cost segregation study, which separates cost components of a building into their proper asset classifications and recovery periods.

Cost segregation allows building owners to front-load depreciation deductions into the early years of asset ownership. This has the potential to defer taxes and increase shorter term cash flow

Jones & Roth combines the expertise of tax accountants with engineering and construction experts to deliver an optimized cost segregation solution.


Cost Segregation Team


Jim Christian, CPA

Jim Christian, CPA

Partner and Shareholder

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Recent News

Changes to the Not-for-Profit Financial Reporting Model with ASU 2016-14

Changes to the Not-for-Profit Financial Reporting Model with ASU 2016-14

As part of the FASB’s project to improve on the current financial reporting requirements for not-for-profit entities (NFP), they issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities in August 2016. This ASU is the first phase of the two-phase FASB project aimed at providing more useful information to donors, grantors, creditors and other users of an NFP’s financial statements, while also reducing the challenges and costs for preparers and users of financial statements.

Below we’ve included some of the main provisions of this new standard.

 

Classes of Net Assets

  • Under the new standard, the three classes of net assets currently presented in the financial statements of NFPs (unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted) will be replaced with two classes of net assets (net assets with donor restrictions and net assets without donor restrictions).
  • As there was no real change in the definition of what a donor-imposed restriction is with this ASU, the effect of this change will generally be that temporarily restricted net assets and permanently restricted net assets under current GAAP are combined to become one class called net assets with donor restrictions. Unrestricted net assets under current GAAP will be referred to as net assets without donor restrictions.
  • The two classes of net assets will be presented on the face of the statement of financial position along with the currently required amount for total net assets.
  • The amount of the change in each of the two classes of net assets will be presented on the statement of activities, along with the currently required amount for the change in total net assets.
  • NFPs will continue to be required to disclose the composition of donor restricted net assets at the end of the period, but will also need to disclosure how the restrictions affect the use of resources (i.e. time restricted resources, resources restricted for a specific purpose, etc.).
  • Additionally, NFPs will be required to disclose the amounts and purposes of governing board designations, appropriations, and similar actions that result in self-imposed limits on the use of resources without donor-imposed restrictions as of the end of the period.

 

Cash Flows

  • NFPs will still be permitted to choose either the direct or indirect method for reporting operating cash flows. However, when the direct method is used, NFPs will no longer be required to present or disclose the additional indirect reconciliation that current GAAP necessitates.

 

Enhanced Disclosures on Liquidity and Availability of Resources

NFPs will be required to disclose quantitative and qualitative information on how its liquid resources are managed. Requirements include:

  • Qualitative information that communicates how an NFP manages its liquid resources available to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the balance sheet date.
  • Quantitative information, either on the face of the balance sheet or in the notes, and additional qualitative information in the footnotes as needed, that communicates the availability of an NFP’s financial assets at the balance sheet date to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the balance sheet date. Availability of a financial asset may be affected by:

(1) It’s nature

(2) External limits imposed by donors, grantors, laws, and contracts with others

(3) Internal limits imposed by governing board decisions

 

Functional Expenses

  • All NFPs will be required to present expenses by both their natural classification and their functional classification. Under current GAAP, this is only required for voluntary health and welfare entities. The analysis of expenses is to be provided in one location, which could be on the face of the statement of activities, as a separate statement, or in notes to financial statements.
  • Additionally, NFPs will be required to include a description of the method(s) used to allocate costs among program and support functions.

 

Underwater Endowment Funds

  • Current GAAP requires the deficiencies associated with donor-restricted endowment funds to be presented in unrestricted net assets. Under the new standard, the aggregate losses will be included together with that fund in net assets with donor restrictions.
  • NFPs will also be required to disclose each of the following for all underwater endowment funds:
  • the NFP’s policies for spending from underwater endowment funds
  • any actions taken during the period, concerning appropriation from underwater endowment funds
  • the aggregate fair value of such underwater funds
  • the aggregate of the original gift amounts (or level required by donor or law) to be maintained.

 

Investment Return

  • Under the new standard, NFPs will report investment return net of external and direct internal investment expenses and will no longer be required to disclose those netted expenses.

 

Release Restrictions on Capital Assets

  • The new standard requires NFPs to use, in the absence of explicit donor conditions, the placed-in-service approach for reporting expirations of restrictions on gifts of long-lived assets, cash or other assets to be used to acquire or construct a long-lived assets, and reclassify any amounts from net assets with donor restrictions to net assets without donor restrictions for such long-lived assets that have been placed in service as of the beginning of the period of adoption.
  • This eliminates the current option NFPs have to adopt an accounting policy to release the donor-imposed restrictions over the estimated useful life of the donated asset.

 

Implementation Date and Considerations

The amendments in this ASU are effective for annual financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017, and for interim periods within fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018. Early adoption is permitted.

The amendments should be applied on a retrospective basis in the initial period of adoption. However, NFPs have the option, if presenting comparative financial statements, to omit certain information required under the ASU for any periods presented before the period of adoption.

You can refer to the full content of FASB ASU 2016-14 (link included below) for further information on the amendments, but please contact us if have any questions on how it applies to your organization or about what steps you should take in preparing for and implementing the new standard.

 

Additional Resources:

http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Document_C/DocumentPage?cid=1176168381847&acceptedDisclaimer=true

 

 

Nadia Oliveira, CPA specializes in providing audit and assurance services for nonprofit organizations and commercial companies, across a variety of industries. She has experience in providing such services to both public and private companies.

IT Security & Crisis Communication: Protect Your Not-for-Profit’s Reputation and Security

IT Security & Crisis Communication: Protect Your Not-for-Profit’s Reputation and Security

In today’s technology-driven climate, security breaches can damage your not-for-profit’s reputation, professional relationships, and sensitive internal controls. Website breaches, social media hacking, and email fraud can lead to inaccurate, and often embarrassing, misrepresentations of your organization.

How can your organization protect itself against a security breach, or minimize damage if one should occur? The key is to develop a preventative IT security plan and responsive crisis communication plan before a crisis takes place.

Preparing for a Security Breach

Create an IT Security Plan

An IT security plan can help identify and eliminate most of your organization’s potential vulnerabilities. After evaluating your IT security strengths and weaknesses, your organization should apply the following steps to construct an effective security plan:

  • Perform an inventory assessment of your NFP’s assets and determine what information or resources you are trying to protect.
  • Complete a risk assessment to determine what level of security is needed to protect your information assets.
  • Reference this checklist to determine your organization’s security strengths and weaknesses.
  • Complete an evaluation of your findings and discuss recommendations for correcting insufficiencies and/or improving security.
  • Create your security plan, including target implementation dates.
  • Determine which department and team member are responsible for each element of the plan
  • Establish target completion dates, and begin monitoring your progress through improvement reports and security initiatives.

Create a Crisis Communication Plan

To establish an effective crisis communication plan, your organization must first develop a communications strategy based on the organization’s policies and procedures. This strategy should be linked to your organization’s data management program and monitored by your IT general controls.

Organizing your communication plan in this way allows you to notice, and address, fraudulent changes almost as quickly as they occur. The basics of a crisis communication plan include:

  • Identifying your crisis communications team (executive and core department leaders).
  • Establishing roles and responsibilities within the team (convening/leading the team, establishing/maintaining a timeline of events and next steps, etc.).
  • Developing a process for communicating with employees. This process should make employees aware of the situation, inform them of decisions being made, and provide directions for communicating with external stakeholders.
  • Identifying and managing key stakeholder and vendor communications, followed by developing a process to ensure all are aware of the situation.
  • Preparing foundational talking points on which to build responses.
  • Preparing guidelines to assess the level of crisis and assigning the level of response (from relatively minor to catastrophic).
  • Preparing a media communications plan for a high-exposure crisis.

These basics are the starting point for your plan, which can be as simple or robust as you prefer. As you begin to develop the processes, lists, and guidelines, a step-by-step crisis management plan should start to emerge.

There are many communications/PR agencies that can help fill in the blanks as you begin this process. Other possible resources include organizations such as The Taproot Foundation, which pair NFP organizations with skilled volunteers who provide pro bono expertise.

Common Security Breaches

If a security breach should occur, your organization now has a step-by-step security and communications plan that you can execute. These plans will enable you to tackle security breaches quickly, efficiently, and with as little damage to your organization’s relationships and reputation as possible.

Following are some of the more common security breaches.

Website Security Breaches

For many organizations, websites serve as the primary way of communicating with donors, supporters, and volunteers. And while websites provide public information, such as an NFP’s core message, purpose, and mission; they can also include sensitive information, such as contact information, donor information, access to online donor registration forms, and client access portals.

Your organization’s website crisis communication plan should:

  • Specify whom in the organization to notify in the event of a security breach;
  • Specify who is responsible for sending security breach alerts to the rest of the organization;
  • Provide the protocol for notifying donors and volunteers;
  • Specify a designated spokesperson to represent the organization in the media;
  • Contain guidelines for a PR protocol, including a press release and/or social media response that represents the organization.

Social Media Hacking & Misrepresentation

Social media provides an accessible, cost-efficient way for not-for-profit organizations to reach large audiences, quickly and effectively. That said, your communications specialist should review and monitor all social media exchanges to make sure they are correctly representing your organization and your brand.

Social media users interact with billions of pieces of content each year. If your organization is hacked by an outside party, it can be mere seconds before thousands of users have seen, or re-shared, a post that misrepresents your organization.

To prevent damage to your NFP’s online presence, you should also have a preventive social media plan. This plan should specify:

  • An intended social media use and security policy that is linked to your organization’s overall communications strategy;
  • A Bring Your Own Device policy (BYOD). This can help limit security risks when accessing content, partaking in unauthorized communications, or spreading misinformation.

In the event of a damaging social media interaction, your organization’s retroactive crisis communication plan should specify:

  • Who is to remove the damaging post from the social media platform;
  • Who is to write an apology for the content and approve the apology before it is sent; and
  • Guidelines for when additional steps are necessary, such as communicating with volunteers, emailing donors, or providing an explanation on your organization’s website.

Email Breaches & Fraud

While websites and social media are vital to online communication, email remains the primary mode of contact for exchanging sensitive business information.

With that in mind, sending and receiving emails is your organization’s primary cybersecurity threat. Fraudulent attachments and links provide many ways for fraudsters to gain access to your organization’s private information, internal controls, and donor information.

To prevent your organization from falling victim to fraud and phishing scams, your NFP should establish a preventative security breach strategy. This strategy should:

  • Include an annual security awareness training, covering how to identify phishing scams and potentially harmful emails;
  • Inform employees of the threats of clicking on links and attachments from untrusted sources. These links and attachments can expose your organization’s network to malicious code, ransomware, or key logging programs;
  • Instruct employees to apply email filters and regularly review firewall whitelists (approved traffic) and blacklists (unapproved, or denied traffic).

Much like responses to website security breaches and social media damage, your organization’s response to an email security breach could determine how much damage is inflicted on your organization and your brand image.

If, for example, your organization is the target of a dangerous phishing scam that sends malware to your donors and clients, your crisis communication plan should allow you to send notifications to your donors before they provide the fraudsters with sensitive information.

Your organization’s email security breach response should proceed much like the above website security breach response. Your organization, however, should place additional emphasis on notifying donors, volunteers, and employees of the potential danger – instructing them not to click on links or download potentially damaging documents.

Not only do security breaches compromise your organization’s ability to do its work, they can also compromise your donors’ trust and have lasting effects on your brand image. Your organization’s ability to address disruptions quickly through having pre-established, pre-tested communication protocol can prevent organization and brand damage before it occurs.

 

Fritz Duncan, CPA, Jones & RothFritz Duncan, CPA is the leader of the Jones & Roth Nonprofit Team and specializes in tax, auditing, and financial review for non‐profit organizations and limited partnerships. Fritz also specializes in affordable housing, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Home-Related Tax Breaks Are Valuable on 2017 Returns, Will Be Less For 2018

Home-Related Tax Breaks Are Valuable on 2017 Returns, Will Be Less For 2018

Home ownership is a key element of the American dream for many, and the U.S. tax code includes many tax breaks that help support this dream. If you own a home, you may be eligible for several valuable breaks when you file your 2017 return. But under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, your home-related breaks may not be as valuable when you file your 2018 return next year.

2017 vs. 2018

Here’s a look at various home-related tax breaks for 2017 vs. 2018:

Property tax deduction. For 2017, property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). For 2018, your total deduction for all state and local taxes, including both property taxes and either income taxes or sales taxes, is capped at $10,000.

Mortgage interest deduction. For 2017, you generally can deduct interest on up to a combined total of $1 million of mortgage debt incurred to purchase, build or improve your principal residence and a second residence. However, for 2018, if the mortgage debt was incurred on or after December 15, 2017, the debt limit generally is $750,000.

Home equity debt interest deduction. For 2017, interest on home equity debt used for any purpose (debt limit of $100,000) may be deductible. (If home equity debt isn’t used for home improvements, the interest isn’t deductible for AMT purposes). For 2018, the TCJA suspends the home equity interest deduction. But the IRS has clarified that such interest generally still will be deductible if used for home improvements.

Mortgage insurance premium deduction. This break expired December 31, 2017, but Congress might extend it.

Home office deduction. For 2017, if your home office use meets certain tests, you may be able to deduct associated expenses or use a simplified method for claiming the deduction. Employees claim this as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, which means there will be tax savings only to the extent that the home office deduction plus other miscellaneous itemized deductions exceeds 2% of adjusted gross income. The self-employed can deduct home office expenses from self-employment income. For 2018, miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor are suspended, so only the self-employed can deduct home office expenses.

Home sale gain exclusion. When you sell your principal residence, you can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of gain if you meet certain tests. Changes to this break had been proposed, but they weren’t included in the final TCJA that was signed into law.

Debt forgiveness exclusion. This break for homeowners who received debt forgiveness in a foreclosure, short sale or mortgage workout for a principal residence expired December 31, 2017, but Congress might extend it.

Additional rules and limits apply to these breaks. To learn more, contact us. We can help you determine which home-related breaks you’re eligible to claim on your 2017 return and how your 2018 tax situation may be affected by the TCJA.