Choose Category

What are the filing deadlines for common federal income tax returns for 2020? *

The deadline for individual tax returns (Forms 1040 and 1040SR) is April 15, 2021. You may request a six-month extension which will extend the filing deadline to October 15, 2021. Extensions apply only to filing deadlines. All tax 2020 income tax amounts owed to the IRS are due no later than April 15, 2021.

Trust and Estate income tax return (Form 1041) is due April 15, 2021. Trusts and Estates can request a five and half month filing extension. The extended deadline is September 30, 2021.

S Corporation (Form 1120S) has an initial filing deadline of March 15, 2021. The corporation may file a request to extend the deadline to September 15, 2021. S Corporations with a fiscal year-end other than a calendar year must file by the 15th day of the third month following the end of the corporation’s fiscal year.

Partnership return (Form 1065) is due March 15, 2021. You may file a six-month extension request and extend the filing deadline to September 15, 2021.

C Corporation (Form 1120) tax return is due April 15, 2021. The corporation may request a six-month extension and extend the filing deadline to October 15, 2021. As noted for the individual extensions, tax payments cannot be extended and must be paid no later than April 15, 2021.

C Corporations with a fiscal year-end other than a calendar year must file by the 15th day of the fourth month following the end of the corporation’s fiscal year. A six-month extension may be requested. **

* See our tax calendar in the Client Area of this Web page for remaining deadlines for 2019 income tax returns and for a more comprehensive list of 2020 income tax return deadlines.

** C-Corporations with a fiscal tax year ending on June 30 and beginning before January 1, 2026, must file its tax return on or before September 15 and may extend seven months until April 15.

How long should I keep my tax records?

Generally, tax records related to federal income taxes should be kept for three years from the date you filed your tax return. The IRS requirements for record keeping are listed below:

  1. Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
  2. Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
  3. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
  4. Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
  5. Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
  6. Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
  7. Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.

If the records relate to property (land, building, equipment, etc.), then you generally should keep those records until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property. Additional limitation rules apply to property you receive in a nontaxable exchange.

Who qualifies as my dependent?

The IRS identifies two types of dependents and they are each subject to their own rules. The first is a qualifying child and the second is a qualifying relative. See below for the general requirements and the rules for each type of dependent.

General requirements for both qualifying child and qualifying relative:

  • TIN. Must include the dependent’s taxpayer identification number on the return of taxpayer claiming the dependent. This is generally their social security number.
  • Citizenship / Residency. The dependent must be a citizen or national of the U.S., or a resident of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico for part of the year.
  • No Dependents. The dependent cannot claim any dependents on his return.
  • Married Dependent. A married individual that files a joint return with their spouse cannot be claimed as a dependent. Certain exceptions apply.

The following additional rules apply to each type of dependent:

Qualifying Child:

  • Are they related to you? The child must be your son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, (or a descendent of such relatives). The relationship test also includes foster and adopted children if certain restrictions are met.
  • Do they meet the age requirement? Your child must be under age 19 at the end of the year or, if a full-time student, under age 24 at the end of the year. There is no age limit if your child is permanently and totally disabled.
  • Do they live with you? Your child must live with you for more than half the year, but several exceptions apply.
  • Do you financially support them? Your child may have a job, but that job cannot provide more than half of his/her support.
  • Joint Return? The child cannot file a joint return with their spouse, except as a claim for a refund.
  • Are you the only person claiming them? This requirement commonly applies to children of divorced parents.

Qualifying Relative:

  • Do they live with you? The individual must have the same principal place of abode as you and be a member of your household all year; or be on the list of “relatives who do not live with you” in Publication 501. About 30 types of relatives are on this list.
  • Do they make less than $4,300? The individual cannot have a gross income of more than $4,300 for tax year 2020 and be claimed by you as a dependent.
  • Do you financially support them? You must provide more than half of the individual’s total support for the year.
  • Are you the only person claiming them? This means you can’t claim the same person twice, once as a qualifying relative and again as a qualifying child. It also means you can’t claim a relative—say a cousin—if someone else, such as his parents, also claim him.

Should I itemize or take the standard deduction?

This is the third year under the Tax Cuts ad Jobs Act (“TCJA”) – which made extensive changes to the tax code that took effect at the beginning of 2018. Due to some of those changes, many individual taxpayers found, for the first time ever, that it was more advantageous (and easier) to take the standard deduction than itemize their deductions.

For 2020, the standard deduction increases to $24,800 for married filing jointly, $18,650 for head of household and $12,400 for single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately. A married taxpayer 65 and older, or blind, may add an additional $1,300 to the standard deduction. Single taxpayers age 65 or older or blind may add $1,650 to the standard deduction. As a result, many taxpayer’s who previously reported itemized deductions can receive a higher deduction, and save time gathering documents, by taking the standard deduction.

In addition to increasing the standard deduction, the TCJA limited several itemized deductions. Under the new Act, a taxpayer can only deduct up to $10,000 for state and local taxes, previously there were no limits.

The TCJA also reduced the amount of interest that is deductible on acquisition debt for a primary and secondary residence to interest paid on debt of up to $750,000 ($375,000 of debt for married filing separately taxpayers). Prior to TCJA, interest expense on debt of up to $1 million was deductible. The reduced limit only applies to acquisition debt for a primary or secondary residence which was incurred after December 15, 2017.

For some taxpayers, the decision to take the standard deduction is easy. But for those taxpayers whose itemized deductions may exceed the standard deduction, it will be beneficial to provide all of the information to your tax preparer and the decision will be based on which deduction provides the greatest benefit for you.

How much can you contribute annually to an IRA? Are my contributions deductible?

The annual contribution limit for 2020 is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older (same as the 2019 limit). Your Roth IRA contributions may also be limited based on your filing status and income.

Traditional IRA contributions may be deductible on your tax return. If neither you nor your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction is allowed in full. ROTH IRA contributions are not deductible.

What are self-employment taxes?

Self-employment tax is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for self-employed individuals.  Individuals who are self-employed and earn over $400 during the year are subject to the self-employment tax. For 2020, income up to $137,700 is taxed at a rate of 15.3% (12.4% Social Security tax and 2.9% Medicare tax). Income over $137,700 is taxed at the 2.9% Medicare tax rate. (A 0.9% additional Medicare tax may also apply. See the next question below.) One-half of your self-employment taxes are deductible from your adjusted gross income on your tax return.

Your self-employment tax payments contribute to your coverage under the social security system. Social security coverage provides you with retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits, and hospital insurance (Medicare) benefits.

Will I be subject to the additional Medicare tax in 2020?

You are liable for Additional Medicare Tax if your wages, compensation, or self-employment income (together with that of your spouse if filing a joint return) exceed the threshold amount for the individual’s filing status. For those with a filing status of married filing jointly the threshold amount is $250,000 (married filing separately is $125,000). The threshold is $200,000 for those filing as single, head-of-household, or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child. If wages are paid to you (including your spouse income if filing a joint return) in excess of the threshold amounts then you are subject to the Additional Medicare tax. The Additional Medicare tax rate is .9%.

What is the Net Investment Income Tax?

For individual taxpayers, the net investment income tax is 3.8% on the lesser of:

  • your net investment income, or
  • the excess of your modified adjusted gross income over the following threshold amounts:
    • $250,000 for married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)
    • $125,000 for married filing separately
    • $200,000 for those filing as single or head of household

Generally, investment income includes interest, dividends, capital gains, rental and royalty income, non-qualified annuities and income from businesses involved in trading of financial instruments or commodities and businesses that are passive activities to the taxpayer.

What is the Qualified Business Income Deduction?

The Qualified Business Income Deduction (“QBID”; also known as Section 199A) was enacted with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and created a deduction for qualified pass-through entities. The QBID was a congressional attempt to mirror in pass-through entities the reduced tax rate of 21% afforded C-Corporation under the TCJA.

The Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID) is a 20% deduction for qualified business income. Certain income limitations apply and are discussed later.

The deduction is taken at the individual level and is available for taxpayers who have ownership in a pass-through entity such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S Corporation.

Partnerships and S Corporations will include the necessary information for the deduction on the taxpayer’s Schedule K-1. To be eligible for the deduction your business must be a qualified trade or business.

Exceptions under the Act include specified service trades or businesses, which include any trade or business whose principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its owners such as accounting, law, investment management, financial services, athletics, trading, or dealing in certain assets. Under TCJA these types of businesses do not qualify for the deduction if the taxpayer’s income exceeds the income limitations described below.

Are there income limitations for the Qualified Business Income Deduction?

As mentioned above, the QBID is a 20% deduction on qualified business income. The 20% deduction is the taken on the lesser of the qualified business income or the taxpayer’s taxable income.

Income limitations on the QBID applies to taxpayer’s whose taxable income is above certain thresholds. For 2020, the threshold amounts are $326,600 for married filing jointly and $163,300 for single, head of household and married filing separately. If the taxpayer’s taxable income is above the threshold amounts the QBID is subject to limitations. Limitations include a reduction in the amount available for the 20% deduction based on W2 wages paid and qualified assets owned.

The QBID is complicated. For further questions on the QBI deduction please consult one of our tax professionals.

What is Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation?

The section 179 deduction is an election to recover all or part of the cost of certain qualifying property (new or used, as long as the used equipment is new to you) in the year the property is placed into service, up to $1,040,000 for 2020. You can elect the section 179 deduction instead of recovering the cost by taking annual depreciation deductions. However, businesses exceeding a total of $2,590,000 of purchases in qualifying equipment are subject to the Section 179 deduction phase-out dollar-for-dollar and the election is completely eliminated if total purchases exceed $3,630,000.

Bonus Depreciation allows you to elect to expense up to 100% of the cost of certain vehicles and equipment purchased and placed into service in the 2020 tax year. TCJA increased bonus depreciation from 50% to 100% and eliminated the rule that the asset be new. Bonus depreciation can be taken on new or used purchases (as long as it is new to you and not purchased from a related party, along with other limitations) with a useful life of 20 years or less. The ability to expense 100% of asset purchases goes through December 31, 2022. The deduction decreases to 80% for the 2023 tax year, 60% for 2024, 40% for 2025 and 20% thereafter.

Can I still deduct meals and entertainment expenses?

In prior years, businesses could deduct 50% of the cost of business meals and entertainment on their tax return. The TCJA made changes to this deduction, eliminating the deduction for entertainment expenses, such as tickets to a sporting event, concert or golf game with a client or customer.

The cost of business meals is still deductible at 50%. The cost of entertainment that includes food and drink must have an invoice showing the amount of the cost related to food and drink in order to take the 50% deduction for that portion of the cost. Meals and entertainment expenses that are provided to the general public as a way of advertising are deductible in full as advertising costs.

If my PPP loan is forgiven, and I am not required to pay the loan back, is the amount forgiven taxable?

The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) was established by the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The intent of the PPP is to provide loans to qualifying businesses to pay up to 8 weeks (later extended to 24 weeks) of certain qualifying expenses. Those expenses include payroll costs, including benefits, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. The program is administered by the SBA. Under provisions of the Program, the loan and interest may be forgiven provided the business meets the eligibility criteria for forgiveness.

Under provisions of the CARES Act, and according to the intent of Congress, if the loan is forgiven, the debt forgiveness income is not taxable for federal income tax purposes. The provisions were structured to provide economic assistance to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, if the criteria are met, the loan and interest would not require repayment, and the forgiven debt would not be taxable.

However, the IRS, in Notice 2020-32, indicated that while the PPP debt forgiveness income is not taxable, as stipulated in the CARES Act, the expenses related to the reimbursement (i.e. payroll cost, including benefits, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities) are not deductible. The IRS, citing Section 265 of the Internal Revenue Code and case law, indicated that allowing both the income to be non-taxable, and permitting the related expenses allocable to that income to be deductible would result in a double tax benefit, which is not permitted under Section 265 of the Code.

Therefore, this is a backdoor way of essentially making the debt forgiveness income taxable, which does not seem to be the congressional intent. The IRS does point out, in Notice 2020-32, that while Congress, in the CARES Act, does address that the debt forgiveness income “shall be excluded from gross income,” it is silent regarding the deductibility of the expenses related to that income forgiveness. This seems to be a congressional oversight.

We are hopeful that Congress will remedy the situation by an amendment to the Act. As it stands now, the non-deductibility of the expenses also raises other federal tax implications related to net operating losses, interest limitations, and Section 199A QBI deductions. As this situation is fluid, please contact your tax professional for the latest updates.

What are attest services?

Attest services can only be performed by a CPA that works within a CPA firm. The hallmark of an attest service is that the CPA must be independent to provide the service. Attest services include audits, examinations, reviews, agreed-upon-procedures, and in most states, compilation engagements.

What are assurance services?

For an assurance service, the CPA expresses an opinion or a conclusion on the subject matter so the user can make informed decisions. Assurance services include audits, examinations, and review engagements.

What is an audit?

An audit of a nonpublic company is performed in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Auditing Standards, also referred to as generally accepted auditing standards, aka GAAS . Those standards are applied to historical financial statements to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance under GAAS. The nature, timing, and extent of procedures performed is based on the auditor’s judgment and may include such procedures as confirmations of balances and other information with outside sources, attorney representations regarding litigation and unasserted claims, inspection of documents, inquires with the company’s personnel, recalculations, analytics and written representations from the company’s management documenting certain responses made to the auditor during the engagement. Reasonable assurance is the highest level of assurance that a CPA can provide. Under reasonable assurance, however, the auditor does not guarantee that the financial statements are 100% correct. Instead, the auditor opines that the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the company’s financial position, operations, and cash flows. Audited financial statements give the end-users, such as banks, sureties, and parties involved in business acquisitions, high assurance that the financial statements used to make decisions are fairly presented.

What is an Examination?

Examinations are performed in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements. An examination is an audit-level engagement applied to information other than historical financial statements. In approach, there is very little difference between an audit and an examination; the most significant difference is the subject matter being examined. An examination, like an audit, is designed to provide a high level of assurance (i.e. reasonable assurance). An example of an examination engagement would include an examination of prospective financial information.

What is a Review Engagement?

In a review of financial statements, the CPA seeks to obtain limited assurance whether there are any material modifications that should be made to the financial statements for them to be presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, i.e. GAAP, or, in some engagements, other applicable financial reporting framework. A review engagement is substantially less in scope than an audit. A review consists primarily of two procedures borrowed from the audit toolbox: those being inquiries and analytical procedures. On occasions, the CPA may apply other procedures when considered necessary to obtain limited assurance. Reviews of historical financial statements or other historical financial information are conducted in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services. Reviews of certain interim financial information are conducted in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Auditing Standards. Review engagements of information other than historical financial statements, including pro forma financial information, are performed in accordance with AICPA Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements.

What is an agreed-upon-procedures engagement?

Agreed-upon-procedure engagement is one of the three types of engagements that are performed in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements. (The other two types, described above, are the examination engagement and certain review engagements.) An agreed-upon-procedures engagement is an attest service, so the CPA must be independent. However, it is not an assurance engagement because the CPA does not express an opinion or conclusion on the subject matter. Instead, the CPA is engaged by the client to issue a report of findings based on procedures agreed to between the CPA and specified parties. An example of an agreed-upon-procedures scenario is when a CPA is engaged to recalculate employee bonuses based on the term of employment agreements.

What is a compilation engagement?

A compilation engagement is conducted in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services. In most states, a compilation engagement is a non-assurance attest engagement. Accordingly, only CPAs can perform a compilation engagement in those states. A CPA may be engaged to perform a compilation of financial statements, prospective financial information, pro forma financial information, or other historical financial information. Unlike an audit or review though, a compilation does not include performing any procedures to verify the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by management.  The CPA applies accounting and financial reporting expertise to assist management in the presentation of financial statements without undertaking to obtain or provide any assurance that there are no material misstatements in the financial statements. A compilation may be more cost beneficial in some cases. However, it is rare for some end-users, such as a bonding company, to accept a compilation at year-end.  However, sometimes smaller bonding programs can and do accept compiled financial statements.

What is a preparation engagement?

A preparation engagement is conducted in accordance with the AICPA Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services and is a nonattest service. Therefore, the CPA is not required to be independent. In a preparation service, the CPA uses their knowledge of the company’s financial reporting framework (generally GAAP) and their knowledge of the business itself to prepare financial statements or prospective financial information. The CPA is not required to verify the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by management. Therefore, the CPA does not provide any assurance regarding the financial statements or the financial information and accordingly does not express an opinion or conclusion. The CPA adds value in a preparation engagement by assisting management with significant judgments regarding amounts or disclosures to be reflected in the financial statements.

Are there other nonattest services?

Yes. CPAs can provide certain nonattest services for the management of a company and still maintain their independence to perform attest services, such as audit, examination, review, agreed-upon-procedures, and compilation engagements, as long as they comply with certain stringent ethical requirements. At Cooper, Travis & Company, we often assist our clients with nonattest services, such as the drafting of their financial statements, preparation of tax returns, depreciation schedules, job schedules, and assistance with year-end close.

What is the difference between an audit and a review engagement?

There are significant differences between an audit and a review both in terms of the amount of test work required and the cost of the engagement. An audit provides greater assurance to the end-user than the limited assurance provided by a review engagement. Because of this, more test work must be performed during an audit to achieve this higher level of assurance. Auditors will avail themselves of all the tools in the audit toolbox. This includes vouching, tracing, scanning, observation, inspection, confirmation, inquiry, recalculations, reperformance, testing of details, and analytical procedures. Additionally, the standards require the auditor to perform a more robust risk assessment and gain a deeper understanding of the company’s system of internal controls than is necessary for a review engagement. Because a review engagement is substantially less in scope than an audit and therefore provides less assurance to the end-user than an audit, it requires fewer procedures and takes less time to perform. Generally, a review engagement only borrows two tools from the audit toolbox: inquiries and analytical procedures. In some cases, other procedures may need to be performed to obtain the limited assurance required in a review engagement.

How do I know if I should get an audit, review, or compilation of the financial statements?

The level of service is most often determined by the end-users of the financial statements.  The majority of private companies choose compiled or reviewed financial statements; however, creditors, investors, and bonding companies may require an audit.  We will typically talk a contractor out of doing an audit and instead performing a review if an audit is not required by their bonding company, bank, or the licensing board.  Sureties often require an audit rather than a review engagement when the aggregate bonding program exceeds $30 million.  Certain regulatory agencies, such as the Tennessee Board of Contractors also have requirements for the level of service (see below for the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors requirements).

How much will an audited or reviewed statement cost?

An audit, which requires substantially more procedures and documentation, is the more costly engagement.  Our fees will be at our regular hourly rates for the professionals involved.  Our initial proposal to a potential client will provide a range of anticipated fees based on the size and complexity of the company as well as the level of service to be provided.

What services do you offer?

We offer a variety of services as described above, with a concentration geared toward the construction/ real estate industry. Additionally, we are familiar with the requirements of numerous state contractor licensing boards and contractor pre-qualification requirements, and offer services in those areas. We provide related services to the owners of our business clients, such as personal financial statements. Furthermore, we perform ERISA audits with a focus directed to profit-sharing and 401(k) qualified plans.

Does the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors require that the financial statements submitted to the Board be audited, reviewed, or compiled?

The question of whether the financial statement submitted to the Tennessee Board for Contractors for licensing be audited, reviewed or compiled depends primarily on two broad considerations: 1) Whether the request is for an original application for license; a renewal; and/or a monetary limit increase request 2) the monetary limit of the license. Nevertheless, the financial statements presented to the Board must be less than 12 months old.

When you initially apply for a contractor’s license, a review is required for a monetary limit request of $3,000,000 or less.  For limits over $3,000,000 to unlimited, an audit is required.

You must renew your Tennessee Contractor’s license every two years.  If the existing monetary limit is $3,000,000 or less, then you are only required to submit a compiled financial statement with the renewal form.  This can be prepared by either a CPA or you can internally compile the statement using the Board formatted financial statement found on its website.  If, however, your existing monetary limit is greater than $3,000,000, you must submit a reviewed financial statement with your renewal form.  The review must be performed by a licensed CPA.

If you request an increase of the monetary limit on your existing contractor’s license, you must submit with the limit increase request a reviewed financial statement for requests of $3,000,000 or less and an audited financial statement for any request over $3,000,000.

What is an Attorney Letter and Is it Necessary?

An attorney letter is a letter of inquiry from the company’s management to the company’s external legal counsel. The letter requests that the attorney reply directly to the auditor regarding litigation and unasserted claims. The letter is mailed (or emailed) by the auditor. The company is generally billed by the attorney for responding to this letter. The auditor is required under auditing standards to send an attorney letter if there is evidence that the company has actual or potential litigation, claims, or assessments that may give rise to a risk of material misstatement. Additionally, many auditors find it prudent to send an attorney letter to the company’s general counsel even if there is no evidence of litigation.

What is a Management Representation Letter and is it Necessary?

As odd as it may sound, the management representation letter is a letter on the company’s letterhead, addressed to the auditor, that is written by the auditor on behalf of the company’s management. Even though written by the auditor, the letter is styled as a letter from management to the auditor. Once the contents of the letter are agreed to and signed by management, it becomes just that, a letter from the management of the company to the auditor that confirms important representations to the auditor. Those representations include management’s acknowledgment of their responsibilities regarding the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements; the quality of the information provided to the auditors and the completeness of transactions; and many other representations that are critical to fair presentation of the financial statements. The management representation letter provides the auditor with corroborating support for audit evidence obtained during audit fieldwork. Auditors are required under auditing standards to obtain this signed letter from management on every audit.

What is a SAS 115 Letter?

The auditing standards require the auditor to obtain an understanding of the company’s internal controls over financial reporting sufficient to enable the auditor to design appropriate audit procedures. This requirement is not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of internal control but is a tool to assist the auditor in assessing the risk of a material misstatement in the financial statements. During the risk assessment process, the auditor may identify deficiencies in internal control that are of sufficient magnitude that they should be communicated to the management of the company. That is done with a SAS 115 letter. (SAS 115 is the AICPA standard that requires the auditor to communicate to management certain deficiencies in internal control identified during an audit.) Under the standard, there are two categories of internal control deficiencies that merit reporting to management: 1) material weakness 2) significant deficiencies. A material weakness is the most problematic. A material weakness means that the auditor identified a weakness in internal control whereby it is reasonably possible that a material misstatement of the financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected, on a timely basis. A significant deficiency in the company’s internal control is less severe than a material weakness, yet important enough to merit the company’s attention. The purpose of this written communication is to bring to management’s awareness of internal control weaknesses, and the significance of those weaknesses, so that those they can be remedied by management.

How do I account for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan for financial statement purposes?

The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) was established by the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The intent of the PPP is to provide loans to qualifying businesses to pay up to 8 weeks (later extended to 24 weeks via the PPP Flexibility Act signed into law on June 5, 2020) of certain qualifying expenses. Those expenses include payroll costs, including benefits, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The program is administered by the SBA. Under provisions of the Program, the loan and interest may be forgiven provided the business meets the eligibility criteria for forgiveness.

The AICPA, in Q & A Section 3200.18, suggests four ways to account for a potentially forgivable loan received under the SBA program. While there are four possible approaches, we recommend the following two:

  1. As Debt. The legal form of the funds is that of a debt. So, it is always permissible to account for the PPP loan under FASB ASC 470 – Debt. Our impression is that most companies will account for the PPP loan as debt, even if the company expects the debt and interest to be forgiven. Though the stated interest rate may be below market, interest will not be imputed because government-guaranteed obligations are excluded from this requirement. Under further guidance in FASB ASC 405-20-40-1, the loan remains recorded as a liability until it is paid off or forgiven, either in whole or in part. If forgiven, the debt liability is reduced by the amount forgiven and a gain on extinguishment of debt would be recorded.
  2. As Deferred Income Liability. If the company determines that it is probable it will meet the PPP’s eligibility criteria for loan forgiveness, it may conclude that the loan is, in substance, a government grant. Therefore, it may account for the PPP loan as a grant by analogy to the provisions of International Accounting Standard 20, Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance. Bear in mind though, that the likelihood of forgiveness must meet the “probable” threshold under GAAP, which is a high threshold to meet.Under the IAS 20 model, the PPP loan funds would initially be recorded as a deferred income liability. The deferred income liability would be reduced as income is recognized “on a systematic basis over the periods in which the entity recognizes as expenses the related costs for which the grants are intended to compensate”. The income would be presented in the income statement as either 1) a separate caption or under a general caption such as Other Income, or 2) as a reduction to the related expenses.If, in a subsequent accounting period, it is determined that all or a portion of the previously recognized income is repayable, it will be accounted for prospectively as a change in estimate. 

Why should I have a valuation of my closely-held business?

Several situations that may require a business valuation, including:

  • Sale or purchase of a business
  • Debt financing support
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • ESOPs
  • Estate and gift taxes
  • Liquidations
  • Buy-sell agreements
  • Property settlements in divorce
  • Stockholder or partner buyouts
  • Goodwill impairment
  • Litigation related to bankruptcy, contractual disputes, and a variety of other issues

Do CPAs perform business valuations?

Yes. CPAs perform business valuations under professional standards issued by the AICPA. CPAs are required to adhere to those stringent standards when performing business valuations. Additionally, CPAs can bring their broad perspective of business operations and understanding of financial statements and the underlying value drivers to the table in business valuations.

What types of business valuation are available?

The AICPA valuation standards permit two types of valuations:

  • Valuation Engagement. The highest level of service is the valuation engagement. The valuation engagement requires more procedures than the second type described below and results in a conclusion of value (or a range of values). The valuation engagement permits the valuation analyst freedom to choose the valuation approaches and methods they consider appropriate in the circumstances to issue a conclusion of value.
  • Calculation Engagement. A calculation engagement does not include all the procedures required for a valuation engagement. In this type of engagement, the valuation analyst and the client agree on the approaches and methods to be used and the extent of the procedures the valuation analyst will perform. Based on the limited procedures performed, the analyst will arrive at a calculated value (or range of calculated values). Many times, an engagement that begins as a calculation engagement will be restructured to a valuation engagement if it appears advisable.

What type of valuation should I have?

It depends primarily on the subject matter of the valuation and what the valuation is needed for. In most cases, the needs of the client are better served by a valuation engagement. However, we will work with you to assess the situation and scope our work to fit your needs and your budget.

What are some of the procedures involved in a valuation?

A valuation requires considerable fact-finding related to the entity, industry, and the local, regional, and national economies, including:

  • Personnel interviews and site visits
  • Review of the entity’s history and entity records
  • Analysis of the entity’s financial performance over several years
  • Analysis and comparison to similar companies
  • Forecast of future earnings
  • Analysis of the economic environment in which the entity operates and other factors.

How long a period is a valuation report valid?

A valuation report is typically valid for a maximum of one year.  After that, it may be necessary to update the report to reflect subsequent company performance and current economic/industry conditions.  However, there could be some extreme subsequent events, such as a natural disaster or a plant fire, which, while not invalidating the valuation as of the date of the valuation, could make it less useful to the end-users.

Do you appraise real or tangible personal property?

No. Our valuation work is only applied to ownership interests and intangible assets.  If your engagement requires an appraisal of real or tangible property, we will work with independent property appraisal professionals to develop our conclusion of value or calculated value.

Do you comply with professional standards?

Yes.  Our firm is bound by the professional standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)  and the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy.  Our valuation services comply in all respects with the Statement of Standards for Valuation Services (SSVS) as promulgated by the AICPA.

What is forensic accounting?

Forensic accounting, also called investigative accounting, is a detailed examination and analysis of documents for use as evidence in a court of law.  The term forensic accounting can include the following areas:

  • Fraud detection, documentation, and presentation of the report.
  • Calculation of economic damages.
  • Tracing income and assets, usually to find hidden assets or income (customarily performed for divorce and bankruptcy cases).
  • Reconstruction of financial statements that may have been destroyed or manipulated.

Who uses fraud and forensic services?

Forensic accountants are retained by law firms, corporations, banks, government agencies, insurance companies, and other organizations to analyze, interpret, summarize, and present complex financial and business related issues in an understandable manner.

Why would my auditor not discover fraud and financial manipulation during the annual audit of my company’s financial statements?

The difference between the public expectation of the purposes and objectives of an audit and the CPA’s responsibilities under Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, aka GAAS, is referred to as the expectation gap.  Audits of financial statements are not specifically designed to detect fraud, but instead, to express an opinion on the financial statements as a whole.  However, should fraud be discovered during a financial statement audit, the CPA will notify the company’s management of the findings.  The client engagement letter and audit opinion state that the object of the audit is to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement, not the detection of fraud.

What are some possible fraud red flags that a business owner should be alert to?

In many cases, the business owner or management may have suspicions that fraud or accounting irregularities are happening.  Some of the more frequent observations that lead to these hunches are:

  • There is no clear separation of accounting duties.
  • An employee with control or access to cash and accounting records does not take vacations or time off.
  • There are significant transactions with related parties or suppliers or subcontractors who are unknown or unfamiliar.
  • There is a distinct difference between an employee’s income and lifestyle.
  • There are significant and frequent adjustments made to the accounting records using journal entries.

Our firm can provide a review of your company’s internal controls to make changes that would lessen the opportunities for fraud to occur.

What is the cost of a forensic accounting or economic damages analysis?

Our fees are typically based on hourly rates.  The fees ultimately charged will depend upon variables such as the complexity of the case, the timing of the required analysis, and the purpose of the engagement.  In non-litigated engagements we can offer fixed-fee arrangements under certain circumstances.  Please contact us for specific information regarding our fee structure or to receive a proposal for a particular engagement.

Does a  FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) audit include an opinion on my complete financial statements?

No.  A FAR audit is designed to provide assurance that the indirect overhead is accurately computed.  The audit opinion scope is limited and restricted to users of the FAR audit.

Do I need a FAR audit for every state in which I perform work?

Generally no.  Usually the firm has a FAR audit performed for its home State DOT (Department of Transportation).  The home State DOT then issues a “cognizant letter” that is accepted by other states.  However, there are a few states, notably Florida, that do not recognize cognizant letters.

What is a “cognizant approved indirect cost rate”?

The term refers to the indirect cost rate established by an audit performed in accordance with GAGAS (Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards) to test compliance with the FAR cost principles and accepted by a cognizant Federal or State agency such as the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) or a State DOT.

What work should be performed by a State DOT to accept an audit performed by a CPA  to issue an approved cognizant letter?

The State DOT performs a review of the CPA’s workpapers using the Review Program for CPA audits of Consulting Engineers’ Indirect Cost Rates identified in Appendix A of the AAHSTO Uniform Audit & Accounting Guide.

How long is an audited indirect cost rate valid?

One-year.  The one-year applicable accounting period means the annual accounting period for which financial statements are regularly prepared for the consulting engineer firm.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons