News

  1. Charter School Students to College Graduates

    Charter School Graduates are Finding Success in College

    A recent report released by The 74 revealed that students that attended charter schools are now graduating from college at up to five times above the national average. Before the charter school revolution, the strategic goal of the traditional school system was keeping students “on track” to graduate from high school so that they could gain admittance into college; a seemingly sufficient educational goal. However, about a decade ago the charter school educators in an effort to be held accountable for their students once they graduated from high school, insisted that they would change the way they defined success. One of the largest and best known charter networks in the country, KIPP, adjusted its college program name from “KIPP To College” to “KIPP Through College”, thus shifting an entire movement towards equipping students with the skills to not just get into college but to graduate from college. Now extremely positive results are showing. The following college graduation rates were published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on July 27th of 2017:
    Uncommon Schools: 50% graduation rate from college
    YES Prep Public Schools: 47% graduation rate
    KIPP Public Charter Schools: 38% graduation rate
    Achievement First: 32% graduation rate

    Keys for Success

    The four basic keys that all of the programs are based upon are worth taking a look at for every high school student. Whether attending a charter school or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear that students who plan well while still in high school are much more likely to achieve their college graduation within four to six years and align their college studies with their ultimate life goals. Students are encouraged to focus on these keys throughout their high school years while attending a charter school, well before actually applying to the college of their choice:
    1. Set Goals –
    This includes what colleges a student may wish to attend and knowing what grades and test scores are required for admittance (e. g. GPA, ACT & SAT).
    2. Start Early –
    Most high school students simply wait too long. Starting early can help ensure that a student is well qualified and prepared for college and afterwards.
    3. Keep Score –
    Keeping track throughout a student’s high school years allows them to make adjustments to the reality of admission to the colleges that they plan on applying to.
    4. Plan for the Cost –
    Cost is perhaps one of the major limiting factors that a high school graduate will face. They need to learn how to set realistic goals, plan and save. Financial aid availability and avoiding large debt upon graduation from college are critical factors that many high school graduates simply are not exposed to.

    Not A Surprise To Mike Hess at Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP

    Mike Hess, a Partner at Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad LLP, and Head of the firm’s charter school accounting department wasn’t too surprised. “We work shoulder to shoulder with the leadership teams of many charter schools to support financial compliance with their regulators which gives us visibility behind the scenes.  From that perspective, we get to witness in real time, the continuous fine tuning of the administrative and instructional engines set to zero in on exactly these kinds of results. It’s exciting to see strategic discipline payoff for the kids.”

     

    Figure 1

    The charter school network serves to educate low-income minority students, whose college graduation rates in 2015 dwindled at 9% in comparison to the 77% of students from the high-income families (Figure 1). Charter school educators are successfully equipping the students with the lowest ‘chance’ of graduating college with the necessary skills to get them through. Furthermore, If private and public schools adopted this movement we have the potential to renovate the entire American education system.

     

    Mike Hess, CPA has brought a dynamic full-service approach to addressing the total needs of Charter Schools in Florida. Exceptional growth of his firm brought a realization that the most efficient way to serve the Charter School industry in the future was to leverage the resources inherent in a larger firm. In November, 2015, the decision was made to merge with another established, local CPA firm, Grennan Fender. Today, the combined company, Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP employs nearly 50 professionals and serves multiple industries across Central Florida and beyond.


  2. HB7069 Education Bill

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a charter-friendly education bill that redirects hundreds of millions of government funded dollars from traditional public schools into the charter school system on June 15th, 2017. The 274-page house bill poses many changes to Florida’s education landscape, spurring enraged school district leaders into protest and receiving applaud from school-choice advocates.

    For almost two decades, public charter schools have provided Florida with a high quality academic service for our children between Kindergarten and 12th grade. Charter schools offer Florida’s parents a choice beyond traditional public-school venues without the costly tuition requirements. Recent studies by the Florida Department of Education show that charter school students are outperforming district-run school students by wide margins; Students enrolled in the charter schools show higher grade level performance and increased learning gains. It is empirical evidence that charter schools are raising student achievement and improving success rates throughout Florida.

    Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director of The Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) says that HB 7069 “recognizes that for far too long there’s been a funding disparity between students who attend a district-run school and those who choose to attend a charter school, and tries to correct that.” The increased portion of funding for charter schools is providing additional construction money, allowing them to open and compete with low-performing public schools. In fact, a controversial provision of the bill encourages charter schools to locate in areas where public school ratings have been persistently low.

    Other good provisions are also included in the bill, to name but a few:

    • A mandatory state exam has been eliminated completely. – Algebra II End of Course (EOC) assessment is no longer required for high school graduation. Algebra I however, is still required to receive your diploma.
    • Recess is now guaranteed in all public elementary schools. – A provision hailed by self-dubbed “recess moms” whom say that elementary students with unstructured play have an increased ability to focus.
    • Revised eligibility for Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program. – The bill provides millions of dollars in bonuses for teachers and principals who are rated highly effective during yearly evaluations.
    • The Gardiner Scholarship program. – Students with disabilities now have a voucher program that will provide additional funding for private tuition and other special services they may require.
    • Pushes back testing dates. – The testing schedule has been pushed back to the last four weeks of school giving students and teachers more time to prepare.

    The overhaul of the education platform will affect many; there are more than 270,000 students currently enrolled in charter schools in Florida. According to a 2012 Tax Watch Report, “The absence of equitable local funding for both operational and capital purposes creates a significant financial disadvantage for Florida charter schools. Charter schools may receive just 68 to 71 percent of what districts receive per student.” Charter school parents pay into the mileage that districts are trying to keep for themselves and they are ultimately being robbed because the current funding formula less values the charter school children. However, the newly signed bill with renovate this funding formula as it recognizes and addresses the imbalance of the state’s capital funding. On the day that the bill was signed, Lynn Norman-Teck, Executive Director of FCSA concludes that “for two decades, public charter schools have been a vital part of the K-12 public education system in Florida. Yet those schools and the students they served were receiving less than equitable funding. Today’s decision by Governor Scott to sign HB7069 corrects that injustice.”

    McCrady Hess, a member of the Grennan Fender CPA Group, has been a leading Orlando CPA and business financial solutions firm for more than 40 years. The firm provides a wide array of innovative services for clients, including tax, audit, consulting, outsourced accounting, cloud accounting and tax planning to meet the needs of Charter Schools throughout Florida and beyond. Contact us online or call us today for a Free Consultation at 407-478-4020 to discuss how we can help you. And know, it’s all about choice, Your Choice. Choose McCrady Hess!

  3. Highway Act Changes Business Return Due Dates

    On 7/31/15, President Obama signed the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 3236) (Highway Act) into law, which includes some significant changes to longstanding tax provisions. The Highway Act makes both partnership and S corporation returns due March 15th following the close of the calendar year (or 15th day of the third month following the close of a fiscal year) for years beginning after 12/31/15. The tax filing deadline for C corporations is changed to April 15th (or 15th day of the fourth month following the close of a fiscal year) for returns for years beginning after 12/31/15. However, for C corporations with a 6/30 year end, the changes are effective for years beginning after 12/31/25. The automatic extension period for these returns has also been adjusted. The Highway Act includes other tax compliance provisions.

  4. No Business Deduction for Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensary

    The taxpayer operated a medical marijuana dispensary (The Vapor Room) in San Francisco that purchased inventory from licensed medical marijuana suppliers and sold the product to customers. The customers could use the Vapor Room’s vaporizers on-site, sample inventory, and participate in other services. A deduction is denied for ordinary and necessary businesses incurred in a trade or business of trafficking controlled substances prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which the business is conducted (IRC Sec. 280E). Although the use and sale of medical marijuana (a controlled substance) are legal under California state law, it is prohibited under federal law. The Tax Court determined, and the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed, the ordinary and necessary businesses expenses associated with operating the Vapor Room were not deductible. [ Editor’s Note: IRC Sec. 280E disallows a deduction only for the expenses of a business and not for its costs of goods sold.] Martin Olive, 116 AFTR 2d 2015-XXXX (CA 9, 2015).

  5. Defined Contribution Plans Included in 10% Penalty Exception for Public Safety Workers

    Beginning in 2016, federal public safety officers can withdraw amounts from their government retirement plans after age 50, rather than 55, without being subject to the 10% penalty under IRC Sec. 72. Previously, this exception applied only to governmental defined benefit plans, but after 2015, governmental defined contribution plans also are included. This is part of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 2146) and applies to Federal and state law enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and emergency medical service providers who have separated from service with the employer maintaining the plan. The exception from the 10% penalty applies only to amounts distributed directly from a governmental plan. IRC Sec. 72(t)(10)(B).

  6. Exempt Status Revoked Due to Private Benefit

    The IRS revoked the tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3) of a foundation that claimed to support the descendants of Hungarian immigrants in the performing arts. Based upon audit findings, the IRS determined the foundation awarded scholarships to direct descendents of the founder and was organized and operated exclusively for private benefit. Furthermore, the IRS determined that the revocation of exempt status should apply retroactively “because it omitted and misstated material facts in its application for exemption.” The foundation argued that it was organized for tax-exempt purposes, but failed to prove that it operated exclusively for this purpose. The District Court upheld the retroactive revocation determining that the foundation (1) operated in a manner inconsistent with the exempt purpose as stated in its application, and (2) had made material misrepresentations of fact in the application. Educational Assistance Foundation for the Descendants of Hungarian Immigrants in the Performing Arts, Inc. (DDC No. 1:11-cv-01573.)

  7. Exempt Status Revoked Due to Private Benefit

    The IRS revoked the tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3) of a foundation that claimed to support the descendants of Hungarian immigrants in the performing arts. Based upon audit findings, the IRS determined the foundation awarded scholarships to direct descendents of the founder and was organized and operated exclusively for private benefit. Furthermore, the IRS determined that the revocation of exempt status should apply retroactively “because it omitted and misstated material facts in its application for exemption.” The foundation argued that it was organized for tax-exempt purposes, but failed to prove that it operated exclusively for this purpose. The District Court upheld the retroactive revocation determining that the foundation (1) operated in a manner inconsistent with the exempt purpose as stated in its application, and (2) had made material misrepresentations of fact in the application. Educational Assistance Foundation for the Descendants of Hungarian Immigrants in the Performing Arts, Inc. (DDC No. 1:11-cv-01573.)

  8. Supreme Court Legalizes Same-sex Marriages Nationwide

    The U.S. Supreme Court held, in a landmark decision, that the Constitution requires a state to license marriages between same-sex couples. This ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states has far-reaching consequences, including a number of important tax issues. Same-sex couples who are married in any state will now be able to file joint state tax returns, inherit property more easily, and receive Social Security and veterans’ spousal benefits. For federal tax purposes, legally married gay couples have been able to file joint income tax returns, elect to split gifts for gift tax, and claim the marital deduction for estate tax since the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Windsor. However, some states required same-sex couples to file separate state income tax returns, regardless of whether they were legally married in another state. [ Editor’s Note: Same-sex married couples should be able to amend their returns and file jointly to claim a refund (if entitled to one) for tax years that are still open.] Other areas likely to be impacted by this ruling include health and medical benefits. Obergefell v. Hodges, 115 AFTR 2d 2015-XXXX (Sup. Ct. 2015).

  9. IRS Issues Spring 2015 Statistics of Income Bulletin

    The Spring 2015 issue of the Statistics of Income Bulletin features preliminary data on 2013 individual income tax returns. Both Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and taxable income increased less than 1% over 2012, with total tax liability increasing 4.5%. The larger percentage increase in total income tax liability compared to AGI coincided with new higher marginal tax rates for ordinary income and certain capital gain income, as well as,, the new net investment income and additional Medicare taxes. In 2013, more than 66% of taxpayers claimed the standard deduction. Taxes and interest comprised 70% of all itemized deductions for 2013. The report also contains prior year’s data that indicates for 2012, almost half of all noncash charitable contributions went to foundations and large charitable organizations. Corporate stock (39.1%), clothing (21.8%), household items (8.7%), and other investments (8.3%) accounted for the largest percentages of noncash contributions reported on Schedule A. The report is available at www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-SOI-Bulletin:-Spring-2015.

  10. IRS Data Breach

    Hackers breached the IRS’s Get Transcript Online service and obtained the past tax return data of more than 104,000 taxpayers while attempting to access data of more than 200,000 taxpayers. The hackers had previously gained sufficient information from an outside source before trying to access the IRS site, allowing them to clear a multi-step authentication process. According to IRS Commissioner Koskinen, the data obtained will help criminals file more credible appearing false returns that are more likely to evade the IRS’s antifraud filters. The 200,000 taxpayers will receive an IRS letter indicating that criminals have their tax data, and the IRS will offer credit monitoring services to the 104,000 who had their data stolen. After learning of the breach, the IRS shut down the Get Transcript Online service that is used by taxpayers to obtain past tax data for mortgage and college applications. There is currently no date for it to reopen, but transcripts are still available by mail. For more information on obtaining a transcript, go to www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript