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Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act was adopted on August 22, 2012 and specifies the requirements surrounding the sources of materials that are classified as "conflict minerals" that may be present in the products a company produces and/or sells. The key minerals are tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. Deadlines for the first reporting period regarding reasonable country of origin inquiries (RCOIs) and conflict minerals are due May 31, 2014. With just six months left to complete your due diligence, it is crucial that your company has actively initiated a plan that includes a review of potential conflict minerals and the country of origin.

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A directive has been issued by the Large Business & International Division (LB&I) simplifying the approach in determining who bears the benefits and burdens of ownership in a contract manufacturing arrangement to claim a deduction under section 199 (DPAD). 

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According to the Internal Revenue Service's Technical Advice Memorandum (TAM 201347020), a professional employer organization (PEO) is not eligible to claim the income tax credit for portion of employer social security taxes paid with respect to employee cash tips received by its clients' employees in connection with the providing, delivering, or serving of food or beverages for consumption.

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Last summer, the IRS listed new guidelines for Large Business & International (LB&I) examiners and specialists to follow related to Information Document Requests (IDRs) for LB&I companies under IRS examination. Any corporation, subchapter S corporation or partnership will be subject to the LB&I guidelines if their assets are greater than $10 million. Earlier this month, the IRS issued a directive which provides guidance on the new IDR enforcement process that will be effective January 2, 2014. The main focus of the new process is to clearly identify and state the issue that has led to the IRS examination of the LB&I company.

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Subject to voter approval in August 2014 (already passed by legislature in 2012), the phase out of personal property taxes will begin in 2016. By eliminating personal property taxes on property that is 10 years old, as well as new personal property, the personal property tax will be completely eliminated by 2023. If voters approve the measure, a special assessment will be added to real property tax bills starting in 2017 to pay for essential services.

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For tax year 2014, the IRS recently announced annual inflation adjustments for more than 40 tax provisions, including cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) applicable to dollar limitations for pension and other retirement plans for 2014. The increase in the 2014 limitations results from an increase in the cost-of-living index.

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On November 14, 2013, President Obama announced an "administrative fix" to the growing number of health insurance policy terminations announced for those individuals and companies in the small group market who had purchased their own health insurance policies. Some experts estimate that as many as 5 million persons have recently received notices from their insurers that the health policies under which they were covered in 2013 were being cancelled for the policy years commencing in 2014.

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As we approach the end of another year, taxpayers need to be sensitive to year-end tax planning opportunities available to them in order to minimize their 2013 federal income tax liability. Hastening the need for such planning is not only the expiration of several tax benefits on December 31, 2013 (absent a decision by Congress to extend them) but also a new 3.8% excise tax on a taxpayer's "net investment income". In addition, the 2014 retirement benefit limitations recently published by the IRS can also offer year-end tax planning opportunities.

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Is there hope for true tax reform? And what would tax reform look like? It would take the President, a Republican Party leader and a Democratic Party leader working together to pass legislation. It would enact a simplified rate system for individuals and a simplified tax code that broadens the tax base and closes loopholes and special interest tax shelters. But is that really possible?

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Ongoing hacks and breaches of security lead businesses to continually question just how well protected their information really is. The unintentional—and often intentional—disclosure of personal and propreetary information is a real threat to most businesses. As technology evolves and new threats and challenges are created, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to maintain adequate security levels. 

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