Phil Liberatore, CPA, Discusses the Deplorable Weaknesses of the IRS

Between 2011 and 2016, a shocking approximation of 9,176 IRS employees were investigated for not completely paying their taxes. Alternatively, 99 percent of employees investigated for not fully paying taxes continue to work there, and only 74 of the agency’s workers were terminated, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

Phil Liberatore of Liberatore CPA rebukes this type of behavior, stating that “the IRS is at the heart of the bureaucratic mess in Washington. The US Inspector General’s findings of IRS employees within the IRS with unpaid tax bills and tax cheats is the tip of the iceberg. The agency doesn’t hold its own employees to the same standards as the US taxpayer.”

Liberatore goes on to assert, “in our over 30 years of experience, we have witnessed firsthand the organizational nightmare in the IRS. Many of our clients will come in with notices showing they owe huge sums to the IRS, and it turns out they were errors in the IRS’s calculations.” Liberatore has a zero-tolerance policy on the little time they set aside for their fellow hardworking citizens, which further invalidates their reliability and overall accuracy. He claims, “Compounding the problem is the terrible customer service the US taxpayers are forced to deal with. The agency has cut its walk-in office locations and wait-times on the phone are excessively long. The US taxpayers deserve better.”

Although the IRS has many flaws and deficiencies that are hindering them from accurately serving the American people, Liberatore is optimistic that there is still a chance to improve. He articulates that “the agency is long overdue for reform which will bring accountability to the IRS, and hold them to the same standards as everyone else in the US.”

Phil and his team at Liberatore CPA will be closely monitoring this problem and provide updates as they become available.

JULY 2017 Online Advisor just published

We have just posted the JULY 2017 issue of the ONLINE ADVISOR newsletter on our website. Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this email.


Paying taxes may not be something many of us look forward to, but it’s nice to know that some areas of tax law still benefit taxpayers. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the benefits that apply to your situation.


It’s summertime and most teenagers are eager to make some money. Make sure you understand the tax benefits of hiring your child to work for your company.


The statistics regarding retirement preparedness in the U.S. are staggering. The vast majority of Americans have saved very little towards retirement. Learn three actions you can take to better prepare for your golden years.


It’s becoming so common to use automatic payments to pay for the products and services we use, that we risk becoming zombie payers. Paying attention to your bills will help you maintain control of your finances.

Just click here to read the full articles.


A great read…Check out our June 2017 On Line Advisor

We have just posted the JUNE 2017 issue of the ONLINE ADVISOR newsletter on our website. Here are a few headlines from that issue. To read any of these articles, click on the link at the end of this email.


Many people worry about being audited by the IRS. Learn why your chances of being targeted for an audit are now lower than they’ve been in years.


Learn why donating stock, rather than writing a check, to a charity can have greater tax benefits.


The chances that your business will be audited by the IRS are pretty low, but it’s still wise to know what triggers business audits so you can avoid them whenever possible.


If you’re considering putting your house on the market, take a look at the exterior appearance of your home. Sprucing it up could help you raise your asking price.

Just click here to read the full articles.

Insights Into The Main Street Fairness Act Bipartisan Efforts Growing to Help US Small Businesses

A new tax bill was introduced last quarter in the senate by Senator Susan Collins of Maine (R) and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida (D) called The Main Street Fairness Act. The bill seeks to provide federal tax parity between pass-through businesses (such as S-Corps, LLC’s and Partnerships) and C-corporations. It would essentially guarantee the tax rate for small businesses is never higher than that of a large corporation. This is a bipartisan bill, which is an encouraging sign of increased support for much-needed tax reform.

As is the case for most Liberatore CPA clients, most small businesses are organized as “pass-through entities” and profits are passed-through to the business owner(s). They are then taxed at an individual tax basis on the individual income tax returns (the form 1040 in this case).

Under current law, the top individual tax rate is 39.6%, while corporations pay a much lower corporate tax rate of 35%. This makes an already uneven playing field even less competitive, as corporations tend to have more access to funds and other resources.

The Main Street Fairness Act would prevent these pass-through companies from being taxed at a higher rate than C-corporations. Instead, income from pass-through businesses would be treated like corporations’ income.

The bill comes on the heels of increased focus on tax reform in Washington. Recently President Trump’s proposal on tax reform was presented by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, Director of National Economic Council, that seeks to reduce the corporate tax rate even further from 35% down to 15%. Congress is also working to pass tax-reform legislation. A version of the senators’ bill was previously introduced in the House of Representatives by Vern Buchanan (FL). House Republicans’ “Better Way Tax Reform Blueprint” that was introduced last summer, states that it builds on concepts from the small-business bill, according to Accounting Today. The tax-reform blueprint aims to lower taxes across the board, but it does not seem to provide for tax parity between small businesses and corporations. The blueprint aims to lower the top tax rate for individuals to 33%, the top tax rate for pass-through businesses to 25%, and the top rate for corporations to 20%.

Philip L. Liberatore CPA Observation
The proposal could potentially yield a significant tax savings for small business owners. At present, only income below $37,950 a year is currently taxed at 15% or less. Income earned through the pass-through entity would be able to benefit of the lower corporate tax rate. This specifically refers to an individual’s distributive share of “active business income” from a pass-through entity (excluding his or her “reasonable compensation” from providing services to such entity), where the top rate would be equivalent to the Corporate tax rate. It is encouraging to see bipartisan support building for much needed tax reform that could be a monumental shift for small-businesses nationwide.

In the senator’s joint statement, Senator Susan Collins said “small businesses employ more than half of all workers and have generated approximately two-thirds of our country’s net new jobs since the 1970s. Unfortunately, our nation’s small businesses face a higher tax burden that affects their ability to compete with large firms in the marketplace. Our legislation will help keep small businesses strong by ensuring that they do not pay a higher tax rate than large companies.” Collins further noted, “Keeping small businesses healthy keeps Americans employed and the economy strong.”

According to the same joint statement, small businesses generate half of the U.S. GDP, 54% of all U.S. sales, 41% of private sector payroll, and one-third of the country’s export value.

As is the way of doing business in Washington, legislation can take a long time to become law. We’ll follow the ongoing efforts in Washington aimed at tax reform legislation and alert you when it hits any big milestones. If you feel strongly about this legislation, make sure to reach out to your senators and representatives and make certain your voice is heard.

Client Letter

Dear Clients and Friends,

As 2017 begins, the odds of comprehensive tax reform look promising. Individual, business, and estate tax rules could undergo major changes for the first time in 30 years. The Affordable Care Act will likely be revised in ways that affect information filing requirements, payment of penalties, and fringe benefits. While a proposed plan for reform exists, the extent, timing, and details will be subject to debate and discussion.

Whatever changes are coming, a new year and new tax legislation always provide fresh opportunities for tax planning. Keeping up may feel like a challenge, but a focus on the aspects you can control will help you stay on the right financial path.

Your goal, as always, is to minimize your taxes and keep more of your hard-earned money. This New Year Letter is a reminder of our commitment to help you do just that. We hope you find the Letter informative and helpful. Please contact us if we can assist you in your planning and in meeting your tax filing obligations.

Reap the most savings with early planning for changing conditions

Reap the most savings with early planning for changing conditions

You already know that tax laws — and your opportunities to plan for them — change regularly. This year, with comprehensive tax reform a real possibility, early planning, combined with a commitment to adapt to changing conditions, will help you reap the most savings. Here are suggestions to get you started.

Your itemized deductions

Regardless of what other tax changes Congress makes, it’s likely that a deduction for charitable donations will be preserved. To benefit, keep all the records required so you can claim a full deduction for your charitable gifts. For instance, if you give a monetary gift of $250 or more, obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity at the time of the gift.

You may also want to consider making a contribution of appreciated property in 2017. Typically, you can claim an itemized deduction of the fair market value of an asset when you donate property you’ve owned longer than a year. In addition, by donating the asset, you don’t have to pay tax on the gain.

One more way to benefit from charitable contributions: the IRA-to-charity rule that you can use when you’re age 70 1/2 or older. The rule lets you make a donation to your favorite charity with money from your IRA while using the amount you donate as an offset of some or all of your required minimum distribution. Though you can’t take a deduction for the charitable contribution, not having to claim the income from the required distribution can garner other benefits.

Your home offers a variety of tax breaks that are also likely to remain in effect during and after 2017. These benefits, which currently include deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes, offer opportunities for tax savings as well as financial planning benefits. For example, you can generally deduct mortgage interest on loans you take out to buy your home. To get a current-year tax deduction while reducing the overall amount of interest you’ll have to pay, you might consider refinancing your acquisition debt into a shorter-term loan.

Also consider a preventive bit of planning for a tax break you hope you’ll never have to use: casualty losses. Generally, you can deduct losses for damage to personal property in excess of 10% of your adjusted gross income (after subtracting $100 per casualty). Take photos or videotapes now so you can show the condition of your property before and after any casualty.

Your retirement plans

Retirement plan contributions are tax-saving winners for multiple reasons, which is why establishing a regular contribution schedule early in the year is standard tax planning advice. The contribution limit for 401(k) plans for 2017 is $18,000. You can make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 when you’re age 50 and over, for a total yearly contribution of $24,000.

In addition to your 401(k), you can contribute to your own IRA. The maximum contribution for 2016 and 2017 is $5,500, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution if you’re 50 or over. Your IRA also gives you the opportunity for late 2016 tax planning, because you can make a contribution for 2016 up until the April due date of your federal income tax return.

Your investments

Taxes can be a frustrating headwind against investment earnings. Part of the impact can be offset by location-aware investing. That’s a fancy way of saying you can save taxes on your portfolio income by making what would normally be taxable sales within your tax-deferred retirement account. In a taxable portfolio, consider investments that offer little or no dividend income, but instead generate non-taxable unrealized gains over time. If you’re looking into a mutual fund, research the fund’s dividend or capital gain payment schedule to time your purchases around taxable distributions.

When selling an appreciated security, pick shares you have owned for one year or more to qualify for the long-term capital gain tax rate. That’s generally 15%, while gain on stocks held less than a year can be taxed at rates as high as 39.6%. Selling a security that has lost value might also be a benefit. You can offset your capital gains with capital losses, and even offset up to $3,000 in ordinary income when capital losses exceed your gains.

Your business

Incorporate planning to make spending money on growing your business a tax-wise event. For example, you might want to treat a client or customer to a meal. When you meet for a business breakfast or lunch, you can deduct 50% of the meal, giving you a tax benefit while improving your business relationships.

Updating your professional skills is another opportunity to get a tax benefit. Schedule professional conferences during 2017 that will improve your current skills. With some limitations, travel to and from the conference, lodging, and related out-of-pocket expenses, as well as the actual conference cost, are tax deductible.

Finally, make time early in the year to review your business form. Your choice of entity plays an important role in the tax planning strategies you can use. Determine if your current entity type is the best for your business, or if a change might open up possibilities for tax savings.

Contact our office for more tax planning tips and tax-saving strategies, as well as updates on current changes to the rules. We’re here to help.
© MC 2017

Tax highlights for 2016 returns and 2017 planning

While last year was quiet in terms of tax legislation, you’ll want to be aware of some changes that will have an impact on your 2016 personal and business tax returns and your 2017 planning. Here’s a brief summary.

IRA rollovers. In general, funds you withdraw from your IRA must be redeposited within 60 days of receipt. In some cases, when you inadvertently miss the 60-day deadline, you can get relief by “self-certifying” that the delay meets one of eleven specific reasons. If any of the eleven apply, you have up to 30 days after the reason or reasons no longer prevent you from making the contribution to complete the rollover.

Bonus depreciation. Bonus depreciation is an additional first-year deduction of up to 50% of the cost of qualified property that you purchase and place in service during the year. The 50% rate is effective for 2016 and 2017. You can claim bonus depreciation in addition to Section 179 accelerated depreciation.

Home mortgage interest. You may be able to claim a larger mortgage interest deduction if you co-own a home with someone other than your spouse. In specific situations, both owners may be able to claim a deduction.

Section 179. The maximum Section 179 immediate expensing limit for qualifying property you bought and placed in service in 2016 is $500,000 ($510,000 for 2017). The deduction is phased out above a $2,010,000 threshold for 2016 ($2,030,000 for 2017). Section 179 expensing is also available for certain lighting, heating, and cooling equipment placed in service in commercial buildings.

Estates. Under basis consistency rules, you’ll need to calculate your basis in inherited property consistently with the amount reported on the federal estate tax return. Generally, you’ll receive a form from the estate. Be aware these rules affect your duties as an executor, as well as your reporting requirements as a beneficiary.

Partnerships. New partnership audit rules take effect in 2017. Changes include allowing the IRS to assess audit adjustments to the partnership. Certain partnerships, generally those with fewer than 100 partners, can opt out of the new rules.

Home sale gain exclusion. Generally, you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a home when you’re single ($500,000 when you’re married), as long as you meet the requirements. You may also qualify for a partial exclusion, if the primary reason for the sale is unforeseen circumstances. “Unforeseen” means events you could not have reasonably anticipated before buying the home and moving in. For example, a partial exclusion was allowed when a family living in a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium gave birth to another child and needed a larger residence.

© MC 2017

Up-to-date with due dates

Up-to-date with due dates

As you prepare for the tax filing season, take note of changes to 2016 tax return deadlines. Here are changes for common forms. Contact us for a complete list.


Form W-2. Forms W-2 for 2016 are due January 31 for all copies. In the past, employers had to provide Form W-2 to employees by January 31. Now the January 31 deadline also applies to copies submitted to the Social Security Administration.

Form 1099-MISC. The due date for filing all copies of 2016 Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7 is January 31, 2017. For these forms, the January 31 due date applies to both paper and electronic filing.

Partnerships. Partnerships and LLCs that file Form 1065 now must file or extend by March 15 instead of April 15. A six-month extension to September 15 is available.

C corporations. The due date for regular corporations filing Form 1120 has been pushed back one month to April 15. An automatic five-month extension to September 15 is available.

Foreign account reporting. FinCEN Report 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, is due April 15, two and a half months earlier than the former due date of June 30. A new six-month extension is available.


S corporations. The due date for Form 1120-S remains March 15.

Individuals. Individual income tax returns are due April 15.

Estates and trusts. Form 1041 is due April 15.


Form Due Date
Form W-2 (all copies) January 31
Form 1099-MISC with nonemployee
compensation reported in Box 7 (all copies)
January 31
Form 1120-S March 15
Form 1065 March 15
Form 1040 April 18
Form 1041 April 18
Form 1120 April 18
FinCEN Report 114 April 18

© MC 2017

Is your business liable for taxes in other states?

Is your business liable for taxes in other states?

If you’re doing business in more than one state, you need to know about “nexus.” Nexus is the level of business presence that enables a state to require you to register and collect taxes.

Sales and use taxes

Presently, forty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted comprehensive sales and use tax laws. While the remaining states have no statewide sales tax, certain local areas within those states can collect sales tax. Although sales taxes generally apply to sales of tangible personal property to end users, states may also tax various services.

In most cases, if you’re a nonresident seller, you can’t be required to collect a state’s sales tax unless you have nexus with that state. Broadly speaking, in this context, nexus is a level of physical presence that’s more than minimal. Depending on state law, physical presence can include owning or leasing real or personal property within the state, or having employees, independent contractors, or agents living in the state or making frequent marketing-related visits.

Once your firm has established nexus according to state law, you must obtain a sales tax permit and collect taxes on sales in the state unless a specific exemption applies.

Other state taxes

Generally, states have applied the physical presence nexus rule only to sales and use taxes. However, states may tax the licensing of intangibles such as trademarks and franchise rights by out-of-state licensors to in-state licensees. States may also assess income or franchise taxes against out-of-state companies that bill royalties and license fees to resident customers for the use of patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property, even though the billing companies have no physical presence.

Nexus issues can be complex and counterintuitive. Please call us if you have questions.
© MC 2017

What’s new in 2017

PROVISION 2017 2016
Personal exemption
Standard deduction

  • Single
  • Joint returns and surviving spouses
  • Married filing separately
  • Head of household
  • Additional for elderly or blind (married)
  • Additional for elderly or blind (single)
Income at which itemized deductions and personal exemptions start to phase out

  • Single
  • Joint returns and surviving spouses
  • Married filing separately
  • Head of household



Alternative minimum tax exemption

  • Single
  • Married, joint
  • Married, separate
Maximum wages subject to
social security tax
Social security earnings limit

  • Under full retirement age
  • Full retirement age
No limit
No limit
Estate tax top rate
Estate tax exclusion
Annual gift tax exclusion (per donee)
HSA contribution limit

  • Single
  • Family
  • Additional for 55 or older
  • IRA for those under age 50
  • IRA for those 50 and over
  • SIMPLE plan for those under age 50
  • SIMPLE plan for those 50 and over
  • 401(k) plan for those under age 50
  • 401(k) plan for those 50 and over
“Kiddie tax” threshold
“Nanny tax” threshold

As you do your planning for 2017, be aware that Congress may make changes to the tax code. See us prior to making business and financial decisions so that current rules and pending changes can be considered.

© MC 2017