W-4 changes meant to get individuals closer to their true tax liability

For more detailed information as it might pertain to your situation, please contact your Pivot tax professional.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published the new 2018 W-4 form on Feb. 27, 2018. Employers use the form to withhold the correct amount of federal income tax from workers' pay.

Accurate withholding is meant to get individuals close to their true tax liability at the end of the year. However, the new tax code, passed into law in December, made significant changes to calculations for income tax liability. Employers and employees alike need to reexamine withholding needs to ensure precision.

The IRS intended that tax withholding under the new law should work with the 2017 W-4 form. This required revisions to retain components such as personal exemptions, which are no longer in the tax code. The 2018 W-4 retains the personal exemption because those still using the previous year's form need to have it.  The new W-4's instructions and calculations attempt to get individuals closer to their tax liability for 2018.

Highlights from the changes

Exemption from withholding
The IRS changed instructions for claiming exemptions from withholding. Now you must indicate that for both 2017 and current year 2018 you had or expect no tax liability.

Withholding calculator
The IRS released its withholding calculator on Wed., Feb. 28. The W-4 instructions state that if you use the withholding calculator, you don't need to complete any of the worksheets for Form W-4. This was not stated on the previous W-4. It may indicate that the withholding calculator is the most reliable method to get your withholding closest to your tax liability.

Calculating personal allowances

The 2018 W-4:

  • Removed the reference to dependents whom you can claim on your tax return.
  • Changed the calculation for the child tax credit to reflect the new amount and the significant increase in the phase-out amounts.*
  • Added the credit for non-child dependents to factor into allowances.*

*While the new calculation more accurately reflects what the taxpayer should claim to get withholding closer to tax liability at the end of the year, it still is not precise. Tax credits function differently from deductions. To retain the allowances in the withholding process for this year, the IRS has had to calculate the approximate amount of deduction necessary based on incremental tax rates of various income brackets.

Changes to Deduction, Adjustments and Additional Income Worksheet

What The IRS changed:

  • The estimate of itemized deductions to reflect the new tax law referencing the $10,000 cap on state and local taxes (including property and income taxes) and the change to medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent.

  • The wage thresholds and amounts for the Two-Earners/Multiple Jobs Worksheet to reflect the dynamic of the new tax code on these taxpayers.

What do employers and employees need to do?

The IRS is not requiring employers to obtain new W-4s from their employees, as it revised the withholding tables to function with the old W-4 for 2018. However, businesses might want to notify their employees of this fact.

Because of the significant changes in the new tax code, employees may want to ensure that their current withholding is appropriate. Many employers may have already received inquiries, and now they can direct staff to the new 2018 W-4. Companies can refer staff to the updated withholding calculator from the IRS. Employees can use it to help ensure they do not face surprises next year when they file their income tax returns.

Employers will need to ensure they adjust withholding appropriately for employees who choose to complete a new W-4.

Still pending

  • Changes to how states interact with federal withholding and the federal W-4. Many states use the federal code as a starting point for tax liability and withholding. State regulators and legislators are debating whether they will decouple from the federal code, and if so, to what extent. Effects on the states and their employers will unfold in the months to come.

  • Further revisions to withholding rules in 2019, as the IRS might seek to shape withholding to more closely mimic the new tax code. In particular, the agency could revise the structure of withholding from deductions to tax credits, removing references to personal deductions, which are no longer a factor in the new code. To accomplish this, the IRS in 2019 may require employers to get new W-4s from their employees or some subset of their employee population.

For more detailed information as it might pertain to your situation, please contact your Pivot tax professional

PIVOT CPAs ON NEW REPORTING GUIDELINES

Summary

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Private companies and not-for-profit entities can give “reasonable estimates” for corporate tax reporting, according to FASB.

The recently-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) made widespread changes to the Internal Revenue Code, but has left some reporting entities and companies scrambling. To help clear things up, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) No. 118, interpreting  Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 740, Income Taxes, with regards to the new legislation.

The FASB is the authority on financial accounting and reporting standards for public and private companies, as well as non-profits.

The Bottom Line

If a company doesn’t have the information needed to evaluate, compute, and prepare accounting entries to report the effect(s) of the Act by the time financial statements are required to be filed, they are permitted to report reasonable estimates for those effects in their financial statements for the reporting period in which the law was enacted.

The bulletin also details that if a company or reporting agency doesn’t have enough information to calculate a reasonable estimate, they should continue to apply Topic 740 based on the provisions of the tax laws that were in effect before the new law was enacted.

The FASB recently posted a Q&A stating the staff would not object to private companies and not-for-profit entities applying SAB 118 on the application of Topic 740 in the reporting period that includes the date on which the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. Historically even though the SEC staff’s views and interpretations aren’t directly applicable, private companies and not-for-profit entities have chosen to apply the guidance in the SABs.
For more information or if you have questions about this issue, please contact your Pivot CPA.

2018 Tax Bulletin

On Friday, December 22, President Trump signed sweeping tax reform (the “Act”) into law. The Act provides the most comprehensive update to the tax code since 1986, and includes a number of provisions of particular interest to partnerships and their partners. This alert addresses the following provisions:

  • Recharacterization of Certain Long-Term Capital Gains
  • Taxation of Gain on the Sale of Partnership Interest by a Foreign Person
  • Repeal of Technical Termination Rules under Section 708(b)(1)(B)
  • Modification of the Definition of Substantial Built-in Loss in the Case of a Transfer of a Partnership Interest under Section 743(d)
  • Charitable Contributions and Foreign Taxes Taken into Account in Determining Basis Limitation under Section 704(d)
  • Like-Kind Exchange Transactions under Section 1031

To download the complete bulletin please click here. To learn how it affects you, please contact your Pivot tax professional.

Peter Reynolds Wins Ultimate CEO Award

Congratulations are in order! Peter Reynolds, managing partner, was recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal as a recipient of the newspaper’s “Ultimate CEO” award at an Oct. 14 ceremony at EverBank Field.

The Business Journal selects its recipients for the awards based on leadership, company growth, and community involvement. In his remarks, Business Journal's Managing Editor Timothy Gibbons lauded Reynolds for his leadership in growing the Pivot CPAs firm by 45 percent over the last five years. He also congratulated the “Ultimate CEO” award winner for leading the firm through a rebranding process and developing a culture that promotes a work-life balance and deep-rooted community involvement.

To read more, click here

Our 2017 Web.Com Tour Championship Journey

When we embarked upon the journey of sponsoring the Web.com Tour Championship, we didn't really know what we were getting into.  We're accountants.  We've sponsored charity fundraisers and played in those, but an internationally-broadcast PGA TOUR event that spans a week (and six months to plan), in a word...a blast.  We were proud from the get-go to be part of it, but we had no idea it would take us to such incredible places (as fans, people and as a brand).

First of all, congratulations to the folks who ran this event: Adam, Allie and Cheyenne (and, yes, you too, Dan!). What an amazing job you all did.  You were challenged with a new venue, new sponsors, new players, new ideas and, for a second time, weather, and you pulled it off.  We applaud David Brown, CEO of Web.com, for having the vision to launch this tour and for keeping it local. Thank you to the volunteers who made it work.  Thank you and congrats to the residents of Atlantic Beach and the Atlantic Beach Country Club.  You are officially "on the map."

For us, did we mention we had a blast? To be aligned with the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR brand was nothing short of incredible.  Who would think a locally-owned CPA firm could be the Official CPA Firm of a significant golf championship? We basked in the glow and we are still grinning.  The moment it hit us was when we walked into "The Truck" - the nerve center of tournament ops, and we felt immediately like we belonged.  We even said Tournament Ops, like we know what we're talking about.  We met an incredible group of guys and had an amazing experience in The Truck (follow them on Twitter).  

To see our giant Pivot logo floating in the pool at the Pivot Poolside Lounge was breathtaking. And then to see our logo again (and again and again) all over the course was so cool. Our party on Saturday night was fantastic - great job Kim Paige and Allie Rohrer for providing incredible music.  Thanks to the rain, we had to hustle to move 140 people from a huge outdoor space to a less huge (but still big!) indoor space, and it was flawless...a Purple Party like we've never seen.

Oh yeah...the golf part.  Congratulations to those Web.com players who received their Tour cards. As you chase your dream you embody what we love about this tour: humility, hard work, passion, team work, entrepreneurship, vision.  You are like many of our clients (and we hope some day you will be one!).  And about Sam Saunders shooting a 59 in the first day?  Don't be fooled by anyone thinking this is less golf than the PGA TOUR...there were 17 prior PGA TOUR winners out there and two major winners.  There was some great, great golf.  And to those of you who missed the mark, the beauty of golf is there is always another chance. We look forward to seeing you next year. Keep battling! 

Our favorite story: Sam Saunders making the turn on round two.  Walking off the tee box, the wind blew the sign off the pole the standard bearer was carrying (a 12 year old kid).  The kid was on his knees trying to put it together.  Sam was 15-20 yards ahead of him, but took notice and doubled back to re-assemble the sign - and more importantly, to help the kid get over his embarrassment.  Way to go Sam...the 59 was cool, but that act of graciousness was what this game is all about.  By the way, Sam is Arnold Palmer's grandson. DNA.  

It was a blast seeing our name in lights, having a great party and watching incredible golf.  Most amazing was being able to spend time with our clients, friends and staff outside the office and inside the ropes (another golf term we learned!). 

It was a great week in the timeline of Pivot. Being part of the community is what we do, and this was a big moment for the community.  Congrats again to all who made it happen and to all who reaped the rewards.  We loved being part of it.  We look forward to doing it again next year.  Start the countdown clock.

2017 Pivot Promotions!

Growing Firm Cultivates Talent From Within To Better Serve Clients

Enjoying the fruits of a fast-paced Jacksonville economy, Pivot CPAs has grown 45% over the last five years.  To keep pace with the growing market, the area’s largest independent CPA firm has promoted four key staffers to leadership roles.  Managing Partner Peter Reynolds today announced the promotions of the following people:

  • Darrell Clarkson was named Tax Principal. Formerly Tax Manager, Mr. Clarkson will take on a leadership role within the company and additional focus on business development. He will have an active role in managing, mentoring and training staff.   
  • Debra Smith was named Senior Tax Manager, working extensively with small business clients providing tax preparation and tax planning services for individuals, corporations, partnerships, and trusts.
  • Eric Sevatson was named Tax Senior Accountant handling complex tax returns and resolving more complex tax matters than in his previous role as an entry-level tax accountant.  The new role calls for increased communication directly with clients and with junior personnel.  
  • Kyle Vincent was named Assurance Senior.  In his new role, Vincent will be more involved in the planning, research, and management of our engagements.  He will assist with the management and completion of audit, review and attestation engagements as well as develop audit programs and procedures relevant to risk and test objectives. 

Said Reynolds, “In our business, providing continuity to our clients is strategically critical, so promoting from within is important. It is part of our culture and brand philosophy that we take care of the people that take care of our clients.”  He added, “These four have constantly shown leadership skills as well as being talented accountants, and we are thrilled to provide them the opportunity to grow.”

IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Irma

We hope that you and your families were able to stay safe during the storm.  Our hearts go out to those who have been displaced or are unable to currently return to their homes because of damage left by the storm.  The IRS has granted relief to the victims of Hurricane Irma to help minimize any additional penalties those impacted would recognize started on Sept. 4, 2017 in Florida.