2018 Ag Seminars

Brooke Eppa
Dec 19, 2017 10:50 AM
2018 AgKnowledge Ag Seminar

Seminars hosted by Cooper Norman

Pocatello – Friday, January 19th  

Twin Falls – Tuesday, January 23rd

Idaho Falls – Thursday, January 25th  


Get your operation future-ready with this half-day seminar:

  • 2018 Tax Update
  • Industry Panel with discussion on current industry issues and Q&A audience participation portion
  • And more
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Tax Reform Summary

Dec 7, 2017 02:14 PM

If you are feeling confused by the recent tax reform proposals, you are not alone. With the Senate narrowly passing their version of tax reform early Saturday morning, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now each passed their own versions of a tax legislation bill, but the two versions include many technical differences.

We have been closely monitoring the progress of these bills. Although the final details of the bill are yet to be determined, it is clear that it will have a dramatic impact on your 2018 tax return (filed in 2019).

House and Senate Republicans are set to reconcile differences between the two tax bills.  Here are a few highlights of things that may affect you.

 Individual tax rates

  • The House bill collapses the current seven brackets into four and keeps the top tax rate of 39.6%, although it raises the income level at which that applies. The changes would take effect in 2018.
  • The Senate bill has seven brackets, but reduces the top rate to 38.5% (currently 39.6%) for income over $500,000 for single filers and $1 million for couples filing jointly. The Senate bill also reduces income levels on other brackets compared with the current levels.

 Obamacare individual mandate

  • While the House bill makes no changes to the Affordable Care Act, the Senate bill would repeal the individual mandate that requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty.

 Mortgage interest deduction

  • The House bill would reduce the mortgage interest deduction for future home purchases.  Homeowners would be limited to deducting interest on up to $500,000 in mortgage debt. Deductions for second homes would no longer be allowed. Existing mortgages would not be affected.
  • The Senate bill does not change any of those provisions.

 Estate tax

  • The House and Senate bills would double the exemption next year for assets subject to the estate tax, a levy of as much as 40% that hits heirs of large estates.
  • The current exemption levels are $5.49 million for an individual and about $11 million for a couple.

 Alternative minimum tax

  • The House bill eliminates the alternative minimum taxes for individuals and corporations.
  • The Senate bill also repeals the tax, but AMT would return in 2026 as part of the expiration of the changes to that part of the tax code.

 Corporate rate reduction

  • The House and Senate bills permanently cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%. The House cut would take effect next year, but the Senate bill delays it until 2019.

 Tax rate on pass-through businesses

  • The House and Senate bills also reduce taxes on pass-through businesses — sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations.
  • The changes are complicated and the bills take different approaches to those taxes.
  • The House bill would cap the top tax rate for pass-throughs at 25%, down from 39.6% individual rate.
  • The Senate plan would continue taxing pass-through businesses at the individual rate that would apply to the owner, with a top proposed rate of 38.5%. But the Senate bill would allow most pass-throughs to deduct about 23% of their business income from their taxes. 
  • This would likely exclude many service-based companies.

 State income tax

  • If you itemize your deductions, you can deduct state and local income taxes or sales taxes. Both proposals would eliminate the state and local income tax or sales tax deduction for individual taxpayers.
Dan Packard, CPA, Cooper Norman
You can read more about the author Dan Packard, MAcc, CPA, CFE, CVA here. 
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Forensic Work by Cooper Norman cited by Jonathan Shipley at AmeriBen

Brooke Eppa
Nov 10, 2017 12:55 PM
Jon Shipley, an HR Consultant with AmeriBen, recently wrote an article on fraud and self deception. The article appeared in the AmeriBen newsletter "The Explorer". Shipley cites the case of Charlotte Pottorff. The forensic audit that uncovered this fraud was performed by Dan Packard and Misty Martinell in our Idaho Falls office of Cooper Norman. We're proud that the work they did has had an impact. 
"In September of 2017, a woman by the name of Charlotte Pottorff pled guilty to embezzling $2.3 million over 10 years from Dura-Bilt Transmissions in Idaho Falls, ID. She had been an employee of the company – a trusted bookkeeper – since 1999. While extreme, her case is not unique; there are over 500 major embezzlement cases every year within the United Sates, and the vast majority of those are committed by long-time employees who generally fly under the radar because of their perceived character. And they are able to steal largely unsuspected: the average length of time for an embezzlement scheme lasts 4.6 years before they are caught."
-Jon Shipley, PHD, HR Consultant
Publication: "The Explorer Edition 570" 
To read the full article, please follow this link.
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Rexburg Office Open House October 25th

Brooke Eppa
Oct 5, 2017 12:03 PM
Cooper Norman Rexburg Office Open House
Come and go as you like. Refreshments will be available.
Cooper Norman News
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2017 Idaho AgFest

Brooke Eppa
Sep 26, 2017 12:23 PM
Idaho AgFest will be taking place at the Pinecrest Event Center at 1515 Northgate Mile in Idaho Falls, Idaho on October 21st this year. Festivities will run from 12pm to 5pm. In an effort to support our vibrant local agricultural community, we'd like to encourage everyone to attend and connect!
Idaho AgFest flyer, October 21st 2017
You can download a PDF version of the flyer in both English and Spanish here.
Community Involvement
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2017 AgKnowledge Seminar

Brooke Eppa
Dec 16, 2016 05:05 PM
AGKnowledge Seminar Logo
AgKnowledge agriculture seminar image
You can register through Eventbrite or call Malinda in our Idaho Falls office at 208.523.0862 for questions or to register over the phone.
$25 per person or $50 per farm (lunch is included)
All locations listed below will be in the state of Idaho:
Pocatello - Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Twin Falls - Wednesday, February 2, 2017
Idaho Falls - Thursday, February 3, 2017
AgKnowledge future planning
AgKnowledge Agriculture seminar header image
Itinerary posted here soon
AgKnowledge agriculture business seminar
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American Opportunity Tax Credit

Ryan Stone
Dec 14, 2016 11:21 AM

As a recent university graduate, the American Opportunity Tax Credit is something that has directly benefitted me and something that I have been very grateful for. If you or one of your dependents is a university student, this might be something that could help you lower the amount of federal income tax that you pay. The credit can be taken on 100% of the first $2,000 spent on qualified tuition and related expenses, and then 25% on the next $2,000 spent on qualified tuition and expenses. The total maximum credit is $2,500 per student, per year, and can be used for the student’s first four years of post-secondary education. Not only can this reduce your tax liability, but up to 40% of the credit amount is refundable which could generate a refund if your tax liability is reduced to zero before using up the entire credit.

In order for this credit to be applicable, you or your dependent needs to be a qualifying student. A qualifying student is a student who is pursuing a degree or other recognized credential from a college or university and is enrolled at least half-time. Additionally the student must not have been convicted of a controlled substance felony.

As previously mentioned, qualified tuition and expenses are used to calculate the amount of the credit. Tuition and fees along with course materials (required books, supplies, etc.) are all qualified expenses and can be used to calculate the credit. However, things like insurance, room and board, and transportation are not considered qualified expenses. Another factor in calculating the credit is the amount of financial aid received. The college or university that you or your dependent is attending will send you a tuition statement (1098-T) which will report qualified expenses as well as financial aid received. The amount of qualified expenses reported on the tuition statement might just be the amount of tuition and fees paid/billed and therefore you might be able to tack on things like books and supplies that you were required to purchase for your courses. The total qualified educational expenses will be reduced by financial aid you receive like scholarships, fellowships, or grants, but will not be reduced by borrowed funds like student loans.

Form 8863 is used to calculate the credit and must be attached to your Form 1040 when you file your individual tax return. The form instructs you to start on Part III where you will calculate the amount of the credit. Then it will take you to Part I and then to finish up on Part II. Part I will calculate any phase-out of the credit that might take place based on your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income). Taxpayers that are married and filing jointly will begin to lose some of the credit if their AGI is above $160,000 and will completely miss out on the credit if their AGI reaches $180,000 or above. For taxpayers using the other filing statuses the credit will be limited if AGI reaches $80,000 and completely eliminated with an AGI of $90,000 or above.  After the phase-out calculation, the refundable portion of the credit is calculated in Part I and then the nonrefundable portion is calculated in Part II.

In conclusion, it can be very advantageous to use education credits and deductions when preparing your tax return. Most of the time the American Opportunity Tax Credit will be the optimal credit to use, but if you don’t qualify, you can check to see if you qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Tuition and Fees Deduction. Education expenses are already high enough, you might as well use them to get some relief on your taxes and hopefully this post shed some light on how to do so.

-Ryan Stone

Email Ryan 

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December 1st Federal Overtime Rule Delayed

Dec 14, 2016 11:00 AM

A preliminary injunction was filed in a November 22 ruling that has put a hold on the implementation of the new federal overtime rule. 

The case was filed in the District court in Texas by 21 states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups. 

“A preliminary injunction preserves the status quo while the court determines the Department of Labor’s authority to make the final rule as well as the final rule’s validity,” said Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. 

The Department of Labor will appeal the decision, but until the courts make a final ruling, employers may continue to follow the existing overtime rule.

Cooper Norman News, Tax
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Thinking about giving this #GivingTuesday?

Nov 29, 2016 11:17 AM

If you’re thinking in participating in #GivingTuesday, keep in mind that certain charitable contributions are deductible if you itemize on your 2016 tax return. IRS Select Check on is a searchable online tool that lists most eligible charitable organizations. Donations to  religious organizations and government agencies are eligible to be deductible donations even if they are not listed in this database. In some states, Idaho for example, there is also a special deduction for contributions made to state educational entities or youth rehabilitation services. Property donations (items like clothing, household items, and other like items) are normally limited to the item’s fair market value or the value at which the thrift store can sell it. If any benefit is received in result of the donation (merchandise, meals, tickets or services), donors may have to reduce the value of their charitable contribution. Bank records (canceled checks, bank statements, etc.) or a written statement from the organization is needed to prove the amount of any donation made so be sure to keep track of these items. For more details on Charitable Contributions and possible tax deductions, visit the IRS website


IRS giving tuesday graphic


 IRS press release on Gifts to Charities

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New Nevada Business Tax Quick Overview

Aug 29, 2016 06:25 PM

Nevada has adopted a tax on businesses that generate more than $4,000,000 in revenues from within the state. Some of the notable features of the tax include:


1-      This is set up to be more of a franchise tax rather than an income tax. The standard nexus rules of P.L. 86-272 don’t apply here.

2-      You will need to look to the state’s definition of “Nevada Income” to calculate the correct amount to report on the form.

3-      The form is based on a fiscal year- 7/1-6/30.

4-      The tax rate used is based on the business NAICS code of the business.

5-      The filing requirement applies to all businesses including sole proprietors (Sch C, E, and F).


Any business registered in Nevada or with operations there will need to file a return annually. Some additional references on the Nevada Business Tax can be found at the Tax Adviser and the Nevada Department of Taxation.


If you believe this applies to you and your business and would like assistance in preparation of this return, please contact us at any of our three locations in Idaho Falls (208.523.0862), Pocatello (208.232.6006), and Twin Falls (208.733.6581). Our tax experts can help you navigate the many nuances and requirements of filing.


Disclaimer: Any material appearing in communication or shared third party content from Cooper Norman is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, or tax advice provided by Cooper Norman. Opinions expressed in communications from Cooper Norman professionals or shared third party content do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Cooper Norman or its associates. These communications are not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a legal relationship, including, but not limited to, an accountant-client relationship. Often these materials have been prepared by professionals, but the user should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. Cooper Norman assumes no obligation to provide notification of changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect the information provided.


You can read more about the author, Tim Anderson, CPA, MAcc on his bio here.

Tim Anderson, CPA, MAcc, Idaho Falls, Cooper Norman, Business Advisor

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