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The Anderson ZurMuehlen newsroom includes current news, releases and industry updates. If you want to stay connected with us in other ways, follow our posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

Anderson ZurMuehlen is Recognized as Employer of Choice

Anderson ZurMuehlen has earned the WorldatWork 2017 Seal of Distinction, for meeting a defined standard showing we provide a distinct mutually beneficial workplace experience.

The 2017 Seal of Distinction is awarded every year to companies across North America that set the standard for employee engagement that leads to business success. The overall strength of a company’s total rewards portfolio is evaluated along with the programs, policies and practices reflected in:

  • Health & wellness
  • Paid Time Off
  • Retirement
  • Bonus programs
  • Short-term incentives
  • Long-term incentives
  • Performance management
  • Recognition
  • Development opportunities
  • Caring for dependents
  • Culture initiatives & community involvement
  • Financial wellness
  • Workplace flexibility
  • Workforce experience

The award highlights the innovative steps we have taken toward future business success by investing in our talented employees with our total rewards approach.  Of particular note are our Management Advisory Committee, Employee Benefits Advisory Committee, Core Competencies, Flexible Work Arrangements, Wellness Challenges, Tax Preparation and Consulting Benefit and our Visionary Employee Recognition Program.” – John Cummings, MBA, CIC, PHR, SHRM-CP, Human Resources Director

 This year Anderson ZurMuehlen was among 160 companies from 35 states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces to be recognized with the 2017 Seal of Distinction.

All 2017 Seal of Distinction companies will be celebrated at the WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference & Exhibition, May 7-10, in Washington, D.C. To find out more about the WorldatWork Seal of Distinction, go to www.worldatwork.org/sealofdistinction.
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Anderson ZurMuehlen Voted Best Accountant in Helena

Anderson ZurMuehlen was voted Best Accountant in the Helena Independent Record’s 2017 Best of Helena. The Best of Helena survey is released yearly by the Helena Independent Record.  Categories include Best Attorney, Best Artist, Best Veterinarian just to name a few.

Thank you Helena!

Read the full article from the Helena Independent Record.

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Anderson ZurMuehlen Open House Schedule

Are you a positive energetic person looking for an opportunity to grow professionally? We’re hosting a recruiting open house for college accounting/business/computer science majors. Students will tour the office and learn more about public accounting.

Missoula office: Thursday, February 2, 2017, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at 1821 South Ave West, 5th Floor.

Please RSVP to Jill Galle by email or 406.721.7800.

Great Falls office: Thursday, February 9, 2017, 4:00-5:30 p.m. at 21 10th Street South.

Please RSVP to Sandy Bechard by email or 406.727.0888.

 

Anderson ZurMuehlen careers

Watch “Why We Work for Anderson ZurMuehlen’

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Rick Reisig Appointed to Financial Accounting Foundation’s Private Company Council

Advanced Accounting Issues for Nonprofits

Plan to attend the 3rd Annual Advanced Accounting Issues for Nonprofits Conference and complete the registration form below.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel

For full agenda, click here

Who should attend: CPAs, CFOs, Controllers, and others who record and report financial transactions

Cost: $195 for first participant from your organization, $150 for each additional attendee. CPE credit is available.

Need lodging for May 23, 2017? Contact the Great Northern Hotel by email or at 406.457.5500, and ask for the Anderson ZurMuehlen Nonprofit Conference. Rooms are available for $130/night + tax. Room block release date is April 28, 2017.

Need more information: email Claire Irwin, Administrative Professional, or call 406.442.1040

 Advanced Accounting Issues for Nonprofits Registration form below.   

Registration deadline is April 29.


 

Organization Name *

Billing Address *

City *

State *

Zip *

Phone *


Attendee 1 ($195)

Name for Badge *

Email *

Special Food Allergies?

Do you need CPE for attending?
YesNo

Which afternoon breakout session does this attendee plan on attending? Please select from the dropdown below:*


Attendee 2 ($150)

Name for Badge

Email

Special Food Allergies?

Do you need CPE for attending?
YesNo

Which afternoon breakout session does this attendee plan on attending? Please select from the dropdown below:


Attendee 3 ($150)

Name for Badge

Email

Special Food Allergies?

Do you need CPE for attending?
YesNo

Which afternoon breakout session does this attendee plan on attending? Please select from dropdown below:

Do you need lodging? Contact Best Western Plus GranTree Inn at 406.587.5261. Request group block AZ Nonprofit Conference or Group Code AZ522217.
Rate: $94/night + taxes.
Group block release date: April 28, 2017.


Please make check payable to Anderson ZurMuehlen and include a copy of your email confirmation when mailing your check. Mail to Anderson ZurMuehlen, Attn. Claire Irwin, P.O. Box 1040, Helena, MT 59624-1040.

Payment is due prior to event.

Select the send button for an email confirmation.

For more information contact Claire Irwin, Administrative Professional at 406.442.1040.

*indicates required information.

Anderson ZurMuehlen Employee Featured in Great Falls News

Johanna Mellinger, a seasonal tax employee for Anderson ZurMuehlen, just donated platelets for the 400th time.

Johanna has been donating her platelets since 1995.  Her motto is, be “good for nothing.”

Read the Great Falls Tribune article about Johanna’s dedication to donating her platelets.

Pictured above: Johanna Mellinger, middle, participates in many races around the state with her children Patrick and Jacque.

Watch the KRTV story about Johanna.

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IRS Extends Deadline to Provide 2016 ACA Forms to Recipients

The IRS announced that it is extending one of the deadlines for providing 2016 Affordable Care Act (ACA) information statements to recipients.
Specifically, the due date for furnishing to individuals the 2016 Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) and the 2016 Form 1095-C, (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) is extended from January 31, 2017, to March 2, 2017.

Q&As about the Process and Extended Due Date

What about filing these statements with the IRS? Is there an extension? No. The deadline for filing the forms with the IRS is not being extended. The IRS has determined that there’s no similar need for additional time for employers, insurers, and other providers of minimum essential coverage to file 2016 Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. The filing deadline for these returns remains February 28, 2017, if not filing electronically, or March 31, 2017, if filing electronically.

However, the extension in IRS Notice 2016-70 doesn’t affect the provisions regarding automatic and additional extensions of time for filing information returns, which remain available under the normal rules by submitting Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns.

Who must furnish these statements? Health insurance issuers, sponsors of self-insured health plans, government agencies that administer government-sponsored health insurance programs, and other providers of “minimum essential coverage” must generally file annual returns reporting information for each individual for whom such coverage is provided. An entity filing an information return reporting minimum essential coverage to the IRS must also furnish a written statement to each individual listed on the return that shows the information that must be reported to IRS for that individual.

The ACA also requires applicable large employers (generally, employers with at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees in the previous year) to provide the individuals with Form 1095-C.

Why are these statements provided to employees? The purpose of this reporting is to allow taxpayers to establish, and for the IRS to verify, that the taxpayers were covered by minimum essential coverage and their months of enrollment during a calendar year.

Why is the deadline being extended? The IRS decided to extend the deadline following consultation with stakeholders and the Department of the Treasury, as a substantial number of employers, insurers and other providers of minimum essential coverage need additional time. The extension is automatic.

Do businesses and others need to do anything to take advantage of the extension? No. The extension is automatic. No documentation needs to be submitted to receive the extension from the IRS.

Penalty Relief

The IRS is also providing the same penalty relief that it provided with respect to 2015 returns. IRS Notice 2016-70 extends the good-faith penalty relief from penalties for failure to timely furnish and file the information returns from the 2015 tax year to the 2016 tax year. In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether an employer or other coverage provider made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to employees and covered individuals.

Examples of good faith include gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS, or testing the ability to transmit information to the IRS. In addition, the IRS will take into account the extent to which an employer or other coverage provider is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2017.

The IRS is encouraging employers and other coverage providers that don’t meet the relevant due dates to still furnish and file. The IRS will take such furnishing and filing into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

The Future

IRS Notice 2016-70 states the tax agency doesn’t anticipate extending this transition relief — either with respect to the due dates or with respect to good faith penalty relief — to reporting for 2017. However, as indicated in presidential election campaign promises, there could be major changes to the ACA under the Trump administration.

If you have questions about your ACA responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act, contact your tax, payroll or employee benefits advisor.

 

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What Lies Ahead & Next Steps for Employers Given the Overtime Injunction

Many employers have been wrestling with plans to comply with new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rules since last May. That’s when the rules were finalized, with a December 1 compliance deadline. Those new rules included raising the minimum salary overtime exemption to $913 per week from $455. A little more than a week before the deadline for the rules was to take effect, a federal court has issued an injunction, at least temporarily blocking implementation of the changes. 

In its decision, the court stated it believes the DOL exceeded its authority in promulgating the rule. In addition, the court said the DOL failed to follow Congress’s intent, which was to reexamine the duties test of the overtime rules, and not to focus solely on the salary level, as the final rules do.

The DOL’s initial response was to state that it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling, and is “currently considering all of our legal options.” A couple of short-term legal scenarios remain possible: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which issued the ruling, could drop its temporary injunction.

Alternatively, the ruling could be kicked up to the local U.S. Court of Appeals, which could overrule or uphold the injunction. But the chances of the appeals court rendering a decision on the issue before December 1 are slim.

What Lies Ahead?

december1circled150In the longer term, the outlook is also unclear. It seems unlikely that the Labor Department under the Trump Administration would fight the ruling, though other parties might. Initial analysis of the district court’s decision by Judge Amos L. Mazzant suggests that holes could be poked into the logic that led to his conclusion. At issue is the fact that the National Labor Relations Act, which laid the groundwork for overtime pay, failed to address the need to periodically adjust the salary threshold. However, a provision for adjusting the threshold was incorporated into regulations way back in 1940.

Also, while Judge Mazzant took exception to the idea of periodic salary threshold adjustments in the context of exempt status, he didn’t declare that it was invalid with regard to all DOL rules.

In any case, employers have several issues to deal with immediately. Those issues vary according to what actions they’ve already taken. Employers that were waiting until December 1 to roll out their plans are in a better position simply to hold tight and act as if the regulations were never issued.

Disruption Issue

The benefits of a wait-and-see approach are that there’s no disruption to the status quo and, in most cases, there will be no spike in payroll costs. However, that approach may also bring risks, including having to scramble to make adjustments if the regulations ultimately are upheld. That scrambling might involve paying extra wages due to affected employees retroactive to December 1.

Another hazard is that employees who have kept abreast of the issue (independently of any statements made by their employers) who were expecting raises or eligibility for overtime pay could be angered that this benefit was snatched away from them.

Employers faced with this dilemma will need to weigh their appetite for regulatory risk, the level of financial pain that compliance with the overtime regulations would inflict, and the employee relations considerations.

Some employers have already made their implementation strategy clear to employees. For employers that have announced plans to reclassify some employees from exempt to nonexempt, options include:

  • Giving those employees the choice of whether to become hourly, or remain in salaried status, while cautioning them that they might need to be moved to hourly status in the future, depending on the outcome of the legal battle,
  • Move forward with their conversion to hourly status to avoid possible future disruption if the regulations are upheld, or
  • Drop the plan to switch them to hourly status.

Morale Considerations

If salaried employees had been promised raises to bring them up to the minimum salary threshold (in lieu of moving them to hourly status), dropping plans for those raises could give rise to problems, such as damaged employee morale. Legal issues could also arise, especially if the promised raises have already been granted. For example, employers could run afoul of notice requirements under state or local laws, and possibly violate common law doctrines governing implied contracts.

A compromise approach with respect to planned salary increases could be to phase in the increases instead of raising them immediately to the regulations’ threshold level.

If employees have already been moved to hourly wage status to comply with the regulations, before switching them back to salaried status, take a fresh look at the “job duties” test for exempt status. This test has always been in place and was not affected by the federal court’s temporary injunction. Businesses could find themselves in trouble regardless of the outcome of this legal battle if salaried employees have been misclassified for reasons other than failing to meet the minimum wage threshold.

How the issue will ultimately shake out is uncertain, at best. But observers in Washington, D.C., point out that although many members of Congress opposed the regulations as written, they agreed in principle that some increase in the overtime salary threshold was in order. That is, they didn’t reject the DOL’s legal authority to adjust the threshold, as it has done multiple times since the early days of the underlying statute.

Whatever actions, or non-actions employers take with regard to the rule, it’s essential to communicate as clearly as possible with employees about the issue. One basic message that would be reasonable would be for employers to explain that they are waiting for more clarity on the legal front before making any big decisions.

Employment attorneys are monitoring the issue carefully, and are an essential resource to take advantage of before taking any irreversible action.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

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Visionary Employees 2016

The First Annual Anderson ZurMuehlen and Employee Benefit Resources

Visionary Employee Award,  Don Laine, CEO

VP with Border

The Visionary Employee Award program is one of the most successful outcomes of the firm’s Management Advisory Committee (MAC). The MAC highlighted the firm’s need to further recognize and celebrate our amazing staff, and from this desire, the nomination and recognition process was established.

Given this background, it is with great pleasure that the firm is able to announce our inaugural 2016 – 2017 Visionary Employee winners. It was honestly quite difficult to select a Visionary Employee from  the nine amazing candidates that we have shone the SharePoint spotlight on throughout the year.  Each of these individuals, recognized again below, are leaders for the firm and in the communities we service.

As we diligently reviewed all these finalists for the Visionary Award we realized that we had two candidates that truly embodied the forward looking, and forward reaching, vision we wished to celebrate this inaugural year. These employees are taking ownership of their careers, their clients, and moving the firm forward toward continuous success. These employees are Kapri Byrne (EBR, Helena) and Erin Stockwell (Tax, Great Falls).

KapricroppedKapri Byrne exemplifies a visionary employee in her approach to her career and her contributions to the firm. Her decision to “change course” in her career has helped build the bench strength in the ERISA niche area.  She diligently balanced the transition of her attest workload, focused on technical development in the ERISA area and relocated her family from Great Falls to Helena.  Kapri has dedicated countless hours to study and pass the exams through American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) earning the right to two designations once she satisfies the two year experience requirement.  In addition, Kapri recently was awarded the Martin Rosenberg Academic Achievement Award by the ASPPA for her outstanding performance on the 2016 Spring DC-3 Examinations.  This award is designed to recognize top performing examination candidates based upon their total exam score as well as their overall exam performance.

erinsErin Stockwell has taken hold of the firm’s vision to develop and grow the international tax practice.  She wholeheartedly stepped up to the plate to lead the charge in the development of this specialty niche.  She has done an amazing job of assembling a team, communicating regularly with them and making sure they have the appropriate training to be successful in attracting, servicing and retaining quality clients. She is truly fearless in her marketing efforts and never fails to drop what she’s doing to answer questions and follow up on leads.  In leading by example Erin assists other employees to step out of their comfort zones, follow their passion, and demonstrate the ability for any employee to take ownership of their career with the firm.

As we move forward into 2017, and through, 2018 our Visionary Award program will include a focus toward firm wide innovation.  Besides the current criteria, we will look to focus nominations on employees who have come up with innovative ideas throughout the firm, including, but not limited to client service, marketing, niche development, employee training and more.

 

 

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The President-Elect’s Tax Plan: What the Future Could Look Like

With Donald Trump as the president elect and Republicans holding a majority in the U.S. House and Senate, GOP tax reform appears likely in 2017. While campaigning, Mr. Trump promised big tax changes. Here’s a digest of his proposals, according to his website.

Individual Tax Rates and Capital Gains Taxes

For individuals, Mr. Trump proposes fewer tax brackets and lower top rates: 12%, 25% and 33% — versus the current rates of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%. The tax rates on long-term capital gains would be kept at the current 0%, 15% and 20%.

Proposed Rate Brackets for Married-Joint Filing Couples

Proposed Rate Tax Brackets for Married-Joint Filing Couples

Proposed Rate Brackets for Unmarried Individuals

Proposed Bracket for Individuals

The proposed plan would eliminate the head of household filing status, which could prove to be a controversial idea.

President-elect Trump would abolish the alternative minimum tax (AMT) on individual taxpayers.  

Itemized/ Standard Deductions and Personal/ Dependent Exemptions

The president-elect’s plan would cap itemized deductions at $200,000 for married joint-filing couples and $100,000 for unmarried individuals.

The standard deduction for joint filers would be increased to $30,000 (up from $12,700 for 2017 under current law). For unmarried individuals, the standard deduction would be increased to $15,000 (up from $6,350).

The personal and dependent exemption deductions would be eliminated.

Child and Dependent Careunited-statesProposed new deduction: The Trump plan would create a new “above-the-line” deduction (meaning you don’t have to itemize to benefit) for expenses on up to four children under age 13. In addition, it would cover eldercare expenses for dependents. The deduction wouldn’t be allowed to a married couple with total income above $500,000 or a single taxpayer with income above $250,000. The childcare deduction would be available to paid caregivers and families who use stay-at-home parents or grandparents to provide care. The deduction for eldercare would be capped at $5,000 annually, with inflation adjustments.

Rebates for child care expenses: The proposed Trump Plan would offer new rebates for childcare expenses to certain low-income taxpayers through the Earned Income Tax Credit. The rebate would equal 7.65% of eligible childcare expenses, subject to a cap equal to half of the federal employment taxes withheld from a taxpayer’s paychecks. The rebate would be available to married joint filers earning $62,400 or less and singles earning $31,200 or less. These ceilings would be adjusted for inflation annually.

Dependent care savings accounts: Under the proposed plan, taxpayers could establish new Dependent Care Savings Accounts for the benefit of specific individuals, including unborn children. Annual contributions to one of these accounts would be limited to $2,000. When established for a child, funds remaining in the account when the child reaches age 18 could be used for education expenses, but additional contributions couldn’t be made. To encourage lower-income families to establish these accounts for their children, the government would provide a 50% match for parental contributions of up to $1,000 per year. Dependent Care Savings Account earnings would be exempt from federal income tax.

Affordable Care Act Taxes

President-elect Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the tax increases and employer penalties that it imposes — including the 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income and the 0.9% Medicare surtax on wages and self-employment income.

Estate Tax

His plan would also abolish the federal estate tax. But it would hit accrued capital gains that are outstanding at death with a capital gains tax, subject to a $10 million exemption.

Business Tax Changes

The president-elect proposes major changes to the taxes paid by businesses. Trump would cut the corporate tax rate from the current 35% to 15%, but eliminate tax deferral on overseas profits.

Under the proposed plan, a one-time 10% tax rate would be allowed for repatriated corporate cash that has been held overseas where it’s not subject to U.S. income tax under current rules.

The plan would also allow the same 15% tax rate for business income from sole proprietorships and business income passed through to individuals from S corporations, LLCs, and partnerships, which could cause a significant decrease in tax revenues.

Without getting very specific, the proposed plan proposes the elimination of “most” corporate tax breaks other than the Research and Development (R&D) credit. At-risk tax breaks could include unlimited deductions for interest expense and a bevy of other write-offs and credits.

On the other hand, the proposed Trump plan would allow manufacturing firms to immediately write off their capital investments in lieu of deducting interest expense.

What about Congress?

In addition to President-elect Trump’s proposed plan, House Republicans released the “Better Way Tax Reform Blueprint” earlier this year and Republicans in the Senate proposed their own tax plans. These proposals — which in some cases, differ from Trump’s — would make numerous changes to cut taxes and simplify filing. Despite some differences, members of Congress have expressed support for Trump’s plans and have vowed to act quickly.

When Might Changes Happen?

Democrats in Washington are likely to oppose any meaningful tax cuts, and they can attempt to stall things in the Senate where the Republicans won’t have a filibuster-proof majority. However, the Republicans can use the same procedural tactics that the Democrats used in 2010 to enact the Affordable Care Act. It’s possible that Trump’s tax plan (or parts of it) may pass in the first 100 days of his new presidency. If that happens, we could see major tax changes taking effect as early as next year. Stay tuned.

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