SEC Amends Form 10-K to Make Annual Reports User Friendly

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently issued an interim rule that amends the Form 10-K; a form certain publicly traded companies annually file to give a complete review of the company’s business and its overall financial condition. The rule allows the registrant to include an optional summary page of the information that the form requires. Each item in the summary must include a hyperlink to a more detailed explanation in the filing.

The amendment is pursuant to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST Act”), which was signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act requires the SEC to take various steps to simplify and modernize certain disclosure requirements. The amendment is effective as of June 1, 2016.

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SEC Order Permits Companies to Use In-Line Structured Data Filings

A recent order from the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) permits companies to file financial statements with the SEC in a new format. Companies may now use Inline XBRL, which embeds structured data in the filing. The format uses machine readable tags and designed for better quality data and lower filing costs.

The SEC’s decision is part of its effort to improve the access and transparency of disclosures. The agency is hopeful the new filing capability will increase the use of XBRL data by investors and other market participants and lower errors in financial statements. Companies may use the new format on a voluntary basis through March 2020.

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IRS Implements New Safeguards for Income Verification Express Service

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is implementing new requirements for taxpayers who use the Income Verification Express Service (“IVES”), a service companies use when signing off on the incomes of loan applicants. The new safeguards are part of a larger effort to protect taxpayers and fortify authentication standards.

The new requirements were sent to IVES participants shortly after the IRS announced the initiative. Among others, the requirements involve collecting data to verify participant clients and the individuals that clients authorize to submit and receive IRS transcripts on the clients’ behalf. The IRS will not deliver borrower income transcripts unless IVES participants certify their compliance with the new requirements. Additional safeguards include requiring individuals to have strong passwords and unique login credentials.

The new protections reflect initiatives being taken elsewhere in the tax system. Recently, the IRS shut down the electronic filing (“e-file”) PIN tool, a tool to assist with electronic tax filing, after criminals attacked the system and stole PIN numbers. The IRS is taking these steps in an attempt to protect taxpayer information and combat potential fraud.

The new requirements are in effect as of July 1, 2016.

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Revised Tax Return Due Dates for Partnerships and C Corporations

President Obama signed the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (“Act”) into law on July 31, 2015. The Act includes a series of revised tax return filing deadlines for partnerships and C corporations.

Returns for partnerships and entities taxed as a partnership filing a Form 1065 are due March 15 or the 15th day of the third month following the end of the organization’s fiscal year. The previous due date was April 15. Extensions are available for up to six months.

Returns for C corporations and entities taxed as a C corporation filing a Form 1120 are due April 15 or the 15th day of the fourth month following the end of the organization’s fiscal year. The previous due date was March 15. Returns for C corporations with a fiscal year ending on June 30 are due on September 15 until 2025. After 2025, the returns are due on October 15. Most C corporations can receive extensions of up to five months until 2026. After 2026, all C corporations can receive extensions for up to six months.

Tax returns for S corporations remain unchanged and are due on Mach 15 or the 15th day of the third month after the end of the organization’s fiscal year.

The new dates are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. These changes are not applicable to most filers until tax returns for 2016 are due in 2017, excluding short year filings.

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IRS Shuts Down E-file PIN Tool

In response to recent cyber-attacks on the Electronic Filing PIN App (“e-file PIN”), the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced the e-file PIN capability is no longer available online or through the toll-free phone service.  Prior to the shutdown, taxpayers could use the e-file PIN tool as an alternative method for signature verification on individual tax returns.

In February, the IRS announced that criminals attacked the system and accessed more than 100,000 e-file PIN numbers, but did not steal taxpayer information.   The IRS did not close down the system at that time and instead elected to provide more security, noting the program’s application programming interface was embedded in most commercial return preparation software and a shutdown would cause a major disruption.  The IRS planned to shut down the program later this year, but additional attacks prompted an earlier shut down.

The IRS reports that only a small number of taxpayers used the e-file PIN tool, so the effect on taxpayers should be minimal.  Most taxpayers opted to use their adjusted gross income from their prior-year tax return to authenticate their returns.  Taxpayers who have not filed their tax returns this year and need a replacement e-file PIN will need assistance from their respective tax software providers.

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Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), qualified small employers may be eligible to receive a tax credit for a portion of the health insurance premiums paid on behalf of their employees. The Internal Revenue Service recently released a reminder regarding the credit.

There are several requirements for small businesses to qualify for the credit. The small business must have fewer than twenty-five (25) full time equivalent employees, pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year, and pay at least half of the employee health insurance premiums. Additionally, the employers must be enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace, or meet certain exceptions to the requirement.

The maximum credit is 50% of the premiums paid. Portions of the credit are phased out for employers paying employees over $25,000 and employers with more than 10 full time employees. The credit may not be claimed for more than two consecutive years.

If your business might qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, a calculator is available through Healthcare.gov to estimate your tax credit, see https://www.healthcare.gov/shop-calculators-taxcredit/

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Federal Civil Remedy for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets Now Available

by M. Tom Langan, II

President Obama recently signed into law legislation that creates a federal civil remedy for the misappropriation of trade secrets. Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property that consist of a business’s methods, designs, formulas, and other confidential or proprietary information that helps a business obtain economic advantages over its competitors. While there were federal remedies for misappropriation of other forms of intellectual property (i.e. trademarks, patents, copyrights etc.), trade secrets were not protected at the federal level until now. The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015 offers a variety of remedies, from monetary penalties to injunctive relief to even seizure orders – all designed to stop the unlawful dissemination of trade secrets. There is a 3 year statute of limitations to bring a claim based off when the misappropriation is discovered or should have been discovered based off a reasonable investigation.

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