I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
—Winston Churchill

Where's My Refund?

By Drew Porter

This time of year, we receive many phone calls asking this very question. Thankfully, both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) know that taxpayers are curious about this, and I am sure they receive many thousands of similar calls every year.
What most taxpayers don't know is that they can get the answer to this question faster than calling either their CPA or the taxing authority. Both the IRS and the FTB have now set up web pages where you can check on the status of a refund for a filed return. Before you go to the website, be sure to have your return in front of you. Using your return to answer three questions, you can generally know the status of your refund right away.
Here are the websites:
Most taxpayers should be able to check the status of their refund once their return has been filed.

Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 - Dec 18, 2014

By Brent Baxter, CPA

Reduce your 2014 federal tax liability by purchasing business equipment before the end of the year

The Senate voted 76-16 on December 16, 2014 to approve a one-year retroactive extension of most, but not all, of the temporary tax deductions, credits, and incentives that expired on December 31, 2013. The approved extenders bill, which cleared the House of Representatives on December 3, now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
The Tax Increase Prevention Act extends many business tax incentives for one year retroactively to January 1, 2014. Without further Congressional action, the incentives will expire December 31, 2014. These extenders include two provisions which provide businesses accelerated deductions for purchased business equipment:
Bonus Depreciation – Bonus depreciation allows taxpayers to claim an additional first-year depreciation deduction. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 extends 50-percent bonus depreciation through 2014. Qualified property must be depreciable under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and have a recovery period of 20 years or less. Property must be new and placed in service before January 1, 2015.
Code Sec. 179 Expensing – Enhanced Code Sec. 179 allows taxpayers to immediately deduct, rather than gradually depreciate, the cost of qualified assets, subject to certain limitations. The extenders bill increases the Code Sec. 179 dollar limit to $500,000 from $25,000 and increases the overall investment limit to $2,000,000 from $200,000.
Both of the provisions described above are set to expire on December 31, 2014. Absent additional Congressional action, bonus depreciation will not be available for 2015 purchases and the Code Sec. 179 limits will reset to the maximum expensing amount of $25,000 with an investment limit of $200,000. If you are planning to invest in new equipment, you should consider making the purchase before the end of the year to take advantage of the tax incentives described above.
If you have any questions about Section 179 expensing or the bonus depreciation, please contact me at

Andrew Porter Cited in Associated Press Article On Life Insurance - May 16, 2014

By Aryn Wilson

CSMLLP Tax Partner Andrew Porter was cited in an Associated Press article on life insurance. Drew advised new parents on which life insurance options to choose.
"Andrew Porter, a certified public accountant in Lafayette, California, advises clients who are new parents to avoid whole life insurance.
'The cheapest form of insurance, generally speaking, for healthy, young adults is term (policies),' Porter said."
The article goes on to describe 5 tips for new parents considering life insurance, including when to buy life insurance, determine priorities and when to consult the pros.

Push Federal Tax Day Back to October - CSMLLP's Andrew Porter Cited in NY Times Tax Day Article - April 1, 2014

By Aryn Wilson

CSMLLP Tax Partner Andrew Porter was cited in a New York Times article on April 1. Drew offered advice on estimating tax payments and when to file for an extension:
"Andrew M. Porter, a C.P.A. with Comyns, Smith, McCleary & Deaver in Lafayette, Calif., suggests that you estimate what you owe as best you can, then add a cushion — say, 5 percent — to avoid an underpayment penalty. The goal is to pay at least 90 percent of what you owe by the due date. If you overpaid, you will get the extra money back when you file your return."
"Since penalties for filing late without an extension are generally greater than those for paying late (the late payment penalty usually is one-half of 1 percent of the unpaid amount), there is really no good reason not to file for an extension, he said: 'Always file an extension, even if you can’t pay.'"
12 million people are expected to file for extensions on their tax deadlines this year. The New York Times article lays out answers to common questions about filing and paying taxes for 2014.
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