New Year

2019 Our Year in Review

New Year

What a Year it’s Been!

2019 has been an incredible year for the entire Senter crew; it’s been nothing short of amazing to grow so much as a firm and family. We’ve had an overwhelming response of encouragement and support from both new and existing clients who have helped us flourish as a firm. It’s certainly been an interesting year, though I wouldn’t expect anything less along the way. Most and best of all, 2019 has been a blast!

The Senter, CPA, P.C. Firm

We continue to strive to exceed expectations and we continue to pride ourselves in the services we offer. Candidly, the best results are achieved through the personal aspect of work, allowing us to serve our clients earnestly and efficiently.

In November, we expanded our practice by adding another rockstar to the Senter, CPA team, Kylie Harig. Please call or swing by our office to give her a warm welcome. However, in the meantime, you can expect that she will introduce herself in the coming days via our BLOG.

As a firm, we commit ourselves to growth and development within our industry. Over the course of 2019, we’ve attended a wide range of seminars, webinars and workshops, researched, and worked with our partners, which allows us to ensure that we are knowledgeable on tax law changes and best practices for our clients. In addition, we were fortunate enough to spend two days at MICPA’s Mangement and Business Information show and two days at the Michigan State University Income Tax school, as well at many other continuing education requirements through the year.

The Senter Family

The kids are growing like weeds; it’s always an interesting time at the Senter house! Cassie and I are alive and well despite all the chaos. No real changes for me, as I try to stay focused and hard at work. Cassie has started working from home to be with the kids more and it’s been a wonderful experience for us all. She is truly AMAZING and definitely the glue that keeps us together.

Boys will be boys and rest assured, they fight like cats and dogs. Ben, now 12, has taken a liking to music and is good at several instruments. Waylon is now 3, wild as ever, and will do anything for a laugh. After meeting him, you’d understand!

The biggest change to our household this year was finding out our daughter, Charlotte, has severe food and environmental allergies. Cassie and I have made big changes within our household, accompanied with several doctor’s visits to combat her allergies. For a gal who is only 1, it’s a big deal.

2019: A Few Highlights

January: The Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting
January 1st – April 15th: Tax Season – 105+ of continuous working days
April: Completed our first tax season in our new office
May: Attended Clarkston Rotary’s Spring Wine Tasting
June: Kicked off Opening Day with the Independence Township Youth Baseball
July: Started serving as a Clarkston Rotary Board of Director
August: Traveled to Tennessee to spend time with friends, family and clients
September: We started a Newsletter! If you haven’t subscribed, be sure to do so HERE
October: Attended and assisted with Clarkston Rotary’s Annual Beer, Wine, Spirits and Food Tasting
November: Awarded the 2019 Young Professional of the Year by the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce
December: Helped with Clarkston Rotary’s “Shoes for Kids” program & Joined Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce’s YPN Committee

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To Our Clients and Friends

We must say a huge THANK YOU to all those who support us. Without our clients and friends, we wouldn’t be who or where we are. You truly drive our passion to serve.

We very much hope you had a fantastic 2019 and wish 2020 to be the best for us all. We look forward to continuing to grow and serve our clients and community in 2020!

If you ever need anything, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We are at your service.

Disclaimer

Comprehensive Financial Planning: Building a Dream Team of Professionals

Building a network of well-connected financial professionals is a crucial means of personal wealth management. A dream team of experts will provide service and support towards working for and achieving your financial goals, while monitoring progress along the way. These collaborative relationships ultimately ensure that your financial future and legacy are well-protected, even in catastrophic circumstances.

Admittedly, the framework can be daunting when assembling your network. Where should you start? Who should you meet with? How do you establish a relationship between industry professionals? We are here to simplify the process. Below are the four most impactful players to recruit on your dream team.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Accountants provide an overall view of your tax situation and are capable of running projections creating a deeper understanding of tax liability and tax opportunity now and in the future. Consider searching for an advisor who is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), as this designation is one of the most trusted, respected, and recognized in the financial industry. CPA’s carefully study tax laws, regulations, and monitor changes in existing tax code, which will strategically optimize your tax opportunity.

Your tax accountant will work closely with your financial advisor in a collaborative effort to manage your financial affairs. These two professionals are the core and powerhouse to your dream team.

Financial Advisor (FA)

Financial advisors and their investors build a relationship through comprehensive financial analysis. FA’s will help you properly plan for retirement and manage your investments. If you have children or grandchildren, these advisors can also establish college savings plans, such as a 529, yielding both tax and financial aid benefits. When searching for a FA, search preferably for someone with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. With this esteemed accreditation, you can feel secure your advisor is providing financial advice and recommendations, based upon what is in your best interest and will encompass a wealth of knowledge and commitment toward personal financial planning. Through a variety of investment vehicles, you can expect your advisor to build your portfolio around your needs and risk tolerance.

Estate Attorney

When searching for an estate planning attorney, you should feel comfortable to utilize the resourcefulness of your previous two key players: your tax accountant and financial advisor. Often times, generating referrals from other professionals on your team facilitate the lines of communication between industries. Mutual clients or shared clients allow for financial transparency and accountability, while working as a whole to move your financial goals forward.

Recruiting an estate attorney will allow you to plan for life’s unexpected and difficult transitions. Documents such as power of attorney, trusts and wills are prepared to distribute your property and protect your legacy against liability or conflict. Finalizing a plan for your assets at death is the best way to ensure proper estate planning for your heirs and, if applicable, a business.

Insurance Agent

Enlisting an agent to evaluate your financial risks is a significant means of managing and safeguarding your wealth. These agents are able to help you plan for potential damages, elder care and cash flow down the road. While most of us appreciate the importance of health insurance and asset coverage (think: home and vehicle) depending on your set of circumstances life insurance, term insurance and/or long-term care may equally be as important.

Collaborating with an tax accountant, financial advisor, estate attorney and insurance agent will bring you and your family peace of mind that your finances are in strategic, advantageous order, while also being protected.

One last crucial bit of advice: be selective. Properly vet each professional and ensure compatibility with your personality and investment style.

Consulting with your Dream Team of professionals is key to financial and legacy planning. If you have any questions or concerns relative to your personal situation and potential strategy, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We would be honored to help.

Disclaimer

Tax Help

IRS Penalties: Abatement & Resolution

Tax Help

Have you ever paid an IRS penalty or feel like you’ve accumulated too many penalty notices from the IRS? If so, it’s possible we can help alleviate the pain. Let’s review a couple of ways to reduce, remove or abate some of those penalties.

There are many forms of penalties, such as failure-to-file (FTF), failure-to-pay (FTP) and failure-to-deposit (FTD). The good news is that there are remedies to minimize penalties, such as reasonable cause, first-time penalty abatement and statutory exemptions.

Reasonable Cause

Reasonable cause typically exists for valid reasons such as fire, casualty, natural disaster or other disturbances. Also included is the inability to obtain records, death, serious illness, incapacitation or unavoidable absence.

Other reasons may exist that establish ordinary business care and prudence to meet Federal tax obligations, but you were somehow unable to meet those obligations.

The Facts Required to Substantiate Reasonable Cause:

  • What disturbance occurred?
  • When did it happen?
  • Facts and circumstance to support your request
  • How the facts and circumstances effected non-compliance
  • Actions taken to correct issues moving forward

Any documents or records available to support the request would aide in a favorable result.

IRS First-Time Penalty Abatement (FTA)

The FTA is an administrative waiver provided by the IRS available to both individuals and businesses to relieve taxpayers from the FTF, FTP and FTD penalties. This waiver is an effort by the IRS to reward those with a clean record.

To qualify for the FTA you MUST have:

  • Filed or extended all required returns and no outstanding request from the IRS
  • Paid or made arrangements to pay any tax due and
  • Have no prior penalties for the proceeding three years

Statutory Exemption

A statutory exemption can be requested when you relied on erroneous written advice provided by the IRS.

Other Considerations

Abatment requests can be made by phone or mailed correspondence; the details of the penalty can be found on the letter issued to you by the IRS. Make sure you have the taxpayer name, tax identification number, tax year, tax form and type of penalty, as well as any other relevant information accessible when speaking with the IRS.

In the event you are requesting a refund for previously paid penalties, use Form 843.

Interest relief is available only on the interest charged on the penalty reduced or removed. Any interest on late payment or unpaid amounts will stand or continue to accrue.

If the IRS rejected a previous request to remove penalties, you may be able to request an appeals conference or hearing, additional information can be found HERE.

If you need assistance with penalty notices, please reach out to us HERE or give us a call 248-934-0550. We’d be glad to help!

Disclaimer

2019 Yearend Checklist

5 Things to Put on Your Year End Checklist

2019 Yearend Checklist

It’s important to keep a checklist of items on your financial radar as we approach the close of 2019. Below are 5 simple tax savings strategies, which will protect your financial health and ensure future success as you move into 2020.

The Top 5 Year End Items:

  • Speak with your CPA – Consult with your CPA for an annual year end tax projection or planning opportunities. Discussing changes that may have occurred in the calendar year, like marriage and a birth of a child or divorce, allows you to revisit tax withholding and prepare tax calculations accordingly. Your CPA can help you plan for a potential and unexpected tax burden and will give you the opportunity to take advantage of tax deductions before the end of the year.
  • Meet with your Financial Advisor (FA) – Having a year end discussion with your investment professional is a crucial means of preparation at the close of the year. Year end tax strategies exist if you are eligible, inclusive of Roth conversions and realization of capital gains and losses. Required Minimum Distribution’s (RMD) must be taken prior to the end of the year, every year, in IRA accounts (Traditional, Inherited, SEP or SIMPLE) and 401(k)’s for those who are aged 70.5 and older. Beneficiary IRA RMD’s are to be taken based upon the original owners date of birth and death, even if the beneficiary is not 70.5 years old. Penalties are steep if RMD’s are not taken. Ideally, your CPA and FA will work closely to monitor your financial situation as a whole.
  • Charitable Contributions or Planned Giving – Gifting cash or itemizing donations to individual(s) or a charity could allow tax deductions, decreasing your overall taxable income. RMD’s can be donated to a charity or multiple charities of your choice, if cash flow is not a concern of yours moving into the new year. Planned giving should be discussed with your CPA and FA to determine the most advantageous means of tax deduction, based upon your unique set of circumstances.
  • Establish a 529 or Fund a College Saving Plan – A 529 investment plan allows you to save for your child’s college education. The growth in 529 plans are tax-free and qualified withdrawals will not face federal income tax either. The sooner you invest in a 529 for your child or grandchild, the greater the potential for the funds to grow, often times overlapping the cost of inflation.
  • Maximize 401(k) Contributions – Ensure that you are putting the most amount of your earnings into your 401(k) plan as possible. The more you contribute to your plan, the greater the tax break or deferral of income. Frequently, employers will match their employees contributions, up until a specific percentage. Not utilizing the employer match is essentially leaving free cash on the table. Speak to your Human Resources Department to make any plan specific changes prior to the new year.

Consulting with your financial professionals is absolutely key to tax advantageous strategies and planning. If you have any questions or concerns relative to your personal situation and potential tax strategy, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We would be happy to help.

Disclaimer

FBAR

Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts: Understanding the FBAR

FBAR

Did you know that a taxpayer must report certain foreign financial accounts, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and mutual funds each year, as part of the Bank Secrecy Act?

By filing a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, otherwise known as FBAR (on FinCEN Form 114), to the IRS, you are ensuring that delinquencies are kept to a minimum while maximizing the accuracy of your annual reporting to the U.S. Federal Government.

Does This Apply to Me?

If you are a United States person, including a citizen, resident, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, trust and/or estate, then you must file an FBAR.

The FBAR will report the following to the IRS:

  1. A financial interest in or signature or other authority over at least one financial account located outside the United States if
  2. The aggregate value of those foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year reported.

Accounts that are held at a financial institution, located outside the United States, are foreign financial accounts.

What Account Types are Excluded from the FBAR?

Foreign financial accounts that are correspondent, owned by a government entity, owned by an international financial institution, U.S. Military banking facility, held in a retirement account (including an IRA) or a trust in which you are the beneficiary do not need to be reported annually to the IRS.

What is the Deadline to file an FBAR?

The FBAR is due April 15 following of each calendar year.  However, you don’t need to request an extension to file, as you are allowed a free automatic extension until October 15, if you miss the April 15 deadline.

How do I File the FBAR?

You must file the FBAR electronically through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s BSA E-Filing System.

FBAR Record Keeping 101:

The IRS requires you to keep records for five years from the due date of the filing.

Unsure what to archive? Maintaining records for each account required to be reported to the IRS is mandatory. Documentation that provides account specific information such as names on the account, account number, name/address of the financial institution, type of account and the maximum value for the year in each account is crucial.

What Penalties Exist for Delinquency?

Filing an FBAR late or not at all is a violation with the IRS and may subject you to penalties, including civil monetary penalties and/or criminal penalties. 

Current maximums, per the IRS, are as follows:

You may file late FBARs if you have not been contacted by the IRS about delinquency and are not under civil or criminal investigation by IRS.

Resources (click the links below)

If you have any questions in regards to your situation, applicability or delinquent filing, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550.

Disclaimer

Tax Scams: Be Careful, They Exist

As year-end approaches, we want to remind our friends and clients of potential tax scams that exist. Cyber criminals use these scams to obtain names, social security numbers, addresses and other personally identifiable information to file bogus tax returns or defraud you into sending them cash directly.

Below is a list of the most common scams, as provided by the IRS.

The 2019 ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams:

  • Phishing
  • Phone Scams
  • Identity Theft
  • Return Preparer Fraud
  • Inflated Refund Claims
  • Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
  • Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns
  • Fake Charities
  • Excessive Claims for Business Credits
  • Offshore Tax Avoidance
  • Frivolous Tax Arguments
  • Abusive Tax Shelter

For additional details regarding the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, click the link above or watch the video  HERE.

Keep in mind, the IRS will never call or email without prior notice requesting payment. If you are suspicious of any fraudulent activity, please discuss with a friend, family member, contact us HERE or give us a call 248-934-0550 for support.

Should you become aware of any scams please report them HERE.

Disclaimer

Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce: The 2019 Young Professional of the Year Award

The Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce honors individuals and organizations each year for their excellence in success and contributions to the community.

We are pleased to announce the Clarkston Chamber of Commerce has exclusively selected Matthew Senter as the 2019 Young Professional of the Year. Matt and his family are residents of Clarkston, where he also founded his business, Senter, CPA, P.C..

Originally from a very small town in Tennessee, Matt has become a valued member of the Clarkston community though his service and achievements as an accomplished CPA. Matt founded his firm, Senter, CPA, P.C. in 2018 and has since expanded the firm after experiencing a great deal of success developing his practice. Senter, CPA, P.C. offers tax preparation and planning services, while also specializing in business and personal accounting and consultation.

As a member of the Clarkston Rotary and dedicated supporter of the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce, Matt has made a personal commitment to the community to improve the well-being of residents through consistent involvement and volunteerism.

Congratulations to Matt for his success and recognition!

As written by the Clarkston News: https://clarkstonnews.com/chamber-honors-business-community-leaders/

Click HERE to see photos from the evening.

If we can be of service to you contact us HERE or give us a call 248-934-0550. We’d be honored to help.

Disclaimer

Income Tax Planning

Ask a CPA: FREE Individual Tax Planning Course

Income Tax Planning

Ever wondered if you could reduce your tax liability or pay less tax on your income? Come join us for a FREE Q&A course related to individual income tax planning. It’s an opportunity to get your questions answered or hear ideas and questions from others that may help you with tax planning.

DETAILS

TOPICS

  • 2019 Individual Tax Rates
  • Deferring Income
  • ROTH Conversions (does it make sense)
  • Harvesting capital gains or losses
  • Standard vs. Itemized Deductions
  • Itemized Deductions
    • Medical expenses
    • State and local tax deductions (income, property, other)
    • Mortgage Interest
    • Charitable Donations
  • Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID)
  • Educator Expenses
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions
  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) contributions
  • Student Loan interest
  • Common tax credits
    • Education
    • Child and depedent care
    • Child and other dependent tax credit
    • Earned Income
  • Penalties and Interest

If you’d like to join us for this FREE brainstorming session please contact us HERE or give us a call 248-934-0550.

Disclaimer

Clarkston Rotary Wine Tasting

Clarkston Rotary Annual Beer, Wine, Spirits and Food Tasting: 2019

Clarkston Rotary Wine Tasting

Place: Bordine’s of Clarkston – 8600 Dixie Hwy, Village of Clarkston, MI 48348
Date: October 24, 2019
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Come enjoy wines from around the world, Michigan beer, select spirits and food from the following great area restaurants:

  • Via Bologna
  • MacPhee’s Restaurant
  • Neiman’s Family Market
  • Pita Way
  • Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn
  • Hamlin Pub
  • The Fed
  • LA Cafe
  • Andiamo
  • Parker’s Hill Top Brewery
  • Buffalo Wild Wings

Proceed’s benefit Clarkston Rotary’s many community and international service projects. If you’d like to know more about our club check us out HERE.

Ticket’s are $45 in advance of $55 at the door. MUST be 21 to attend.

For tickets or more information contact us HERE or call 248-934-0550.

Disclaimer

Hiring: Office Manager (Hired 11/13/19)

OUR FIRM

We are a full-service CPA firm providing tax, accounting and consulting services in Southeastern, Michigan and across the US. We offer a fun work environment and client service atmosphere.

We are looking for a driven, detail oriented professional with a postive attitude to join our growing team. If you’d like to join our team, please send us a resume with a cover letter stating why you think you’d be a good fit.

Location: Clarkston, MI
Duration: part-time, possibly full-time during tax season (February – April 15th) – full-time within the next 12-18 months
Start date: TBD with a 90-day introductory/probationary period
Salary: commensurate with experience (provide requirements with resume)
Hours: M/W/F 8:00 – 5:00

SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIES

The Office Manager is responsible for the firms overall administrative and clerical activities. Directs and coordinates office, client and facility services and any related activities.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Client Service: front desk, greet clients, phones, mailings
  • Data entry
  • Scanning and electronically filing documents
  • Scheduling
  • Assembling, distributing documents and obtaining client signatures
  • Shredding
  • Preparation of engagement letters
  • Follow-up and contacting clients
  • Assistance with social media accounts
  • Provide initiative, recommendations, and assistance regarding policies, procedures, and firm matters
  • IT network support (assists staff with IT issues and coordinates with IT vendor)
  • Business meeting preparation (client meetings, staff meetings, and firm events)
  • Event planning and coordination (client workshops and/or client events)
  • Management of facilities (procurement of supplies, furniture and equipment)
  • Firm calendar travel arrangements
  • Coordinate firm CPE files and CPE budgets
  • Distribution of minutes and other firm communication(s)
  • Light cleaning and general maintenance
  • Perform other duties as assigned by owner

JOB QUALIFICATIONS

  • Committed to a client service approach
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Possession of strong organizational skills
  • Punctual
  • Ability to perform several tasks concurrently with ease and professionalism
  • Ability to effectively operate office equipment and computer programs
  • Ability to type 30 words per minute
  • Ability to work independently on assigned task as well as to accept direction on given assignments
  • Ablilty to work effectively with staff members, clients, and vendors

EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE

  • Possession of a high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Two years of experience in clerical work or any equivalent combination of education, training and experience that demonstrates the ability to perform the duties of the position A PLUS but NOT required
  • Bookkeeping or tax experience A PLUS but NOT required

BENEFITS

  • Paid time off (after 90 days)
  • 401(K) with employer match (after 2-year eligibility period)
  • NO health insurance offered at this time
  • Employee referral program

WORKING CONDITIONS

  • In office
  • Professional attire
  • Occasional overtime hours required (on as needed basis during tax season)

Please submit resumes to matt@sentercpa.com. Be sure to include salary requirements and preferred interview schedule. Call 248-934-0550 with any questions.

The above noted job description does not list all the duties of the job; you may be asked to perform other assignments and duties. This job description is intended to give a general sense of the responsibilities and expectations associated with the position. You will be evaluated in part based on your performance of the tasks listed above. The firm’s management has the right to revise this job description at any time.