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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 25, 2013, 6:15 am

Accounting: ‘Nonprofit Education Series’ focuses on key issues

Also: IRS sees boost in Web traffic; Congress eyes charitable giving deduction

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    Eric Gneckow, Business Journal Staff ReporterThe North Bay office of Burr Pilger Mayer is taking part in the launch of a new “Nonprofit Education Series,” a six-part educational program focusing on financial risks and strategies specific to the nonprofit sector.

    The firm’s Santa Rosa office, at 110 Stony Point Road, Ste. 210, will be hosting live video conferences of the seminars, which begin on March 6 in San Francisco. Nonprofit executive directors, financial professionals and board members are invited to register at no cost, but seating is limited.

    Subjects, taught by professionals both inside and outside of BPM, include fraud prevention, payroll, compensation limits, board responsibilities, tax and pension rules and the attraction of donors for growth capital.

    Half of the programs will be taught through a web-based format with unlimited attendance, but registration is still required. The courses are eligible for continuing professional education credits for CPAs, and registration is available at http://www.bpmcpa.com/npeducationseries/.

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    The Internal Revenue Service has released data reflecting electronic tax filing last year, showing a trend towards Web-based filing services while anticipating usage of its Web and mobile offerings in 2013.

    Last year, 80 percent of all individual returns were filed electronically, according to the IRS. 340 million people visited www.irs.gov during the period, up 17 percent versus 2011.

    The IRS launched a revamped website and mobile platform in August 2012. The mobile application, IRS2Go, has been downloaded more than 800,000 times. The expanded platform seeks to simplify access to information and improve accessibility, but it has not been without hiccups — the IRS issued a warning this month that heavy usage of both the Web and mobile version of the “Where’s My Refund?” feature could potentially overwhelm its systems, prompting a request that users only access the program once per day.

    The IRS has assigned 3,000 employees to work on identity theft-related issues in late 2012. That number was over double from the same period in 2011, when the IRS was able to prevent $20 billion in fraudulent refunds.

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    The federal tax treatment of charitable contributions was the subject of a recent report by the staff of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, outlining the impact of the related deduction and casting a spotlight on an issue that has been closely watched by the nation’s nonprofits.

    Presented to the House Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 14, the report listed several proposals for reforming a tax credit that dates back to 1917. At a time when governments are hungry for revenue, the report estimates that a projected $217.89 billion in charitable donations by individuals in 2011 lead to a federal tax expense of $37.59 billion.

    Proposals for reforming the code include extension of the benefit to those with non-itemized tax filing, something proponents say would open the credit to lower-income taxpayers. Other proposals include a cap on overall deductions, a minimum level of giving before the tax benefit activates and an overall cap in allowable deductions for taxpayers.

    A 2012 survey by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that nearly one-third of high-net-worth individuals cited tax benefits as a factor in their giving [see "Charitable giving remained strong through recession," Jan. 7, 2013].

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    A partner at St. Helena’s Brotemarkle, Davis & Company has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, recognizing his history in helping to teach financial literacy to high school students in Napa County, according to an announcement from the firm.

    Craig Underhill received the award after 15 years of service as chair of the board for Junior Achievement of Napa County. The recognition, from the Corporation for National and Community Service, was presented during the February meeting of Junior Achievement of Northern California in San Francisco.  

    In that role, Mr. Underhill has helped recruit volunteers, raise funds and coordinate class sessions for financial literacy education in the county’s schools. Mr. Underhill has personally taught more than 400 students during his tenure at Junior Achievement, part of the national organization Junior Achievement USA.

    The award was created as an initiative under the administration of President George W. Bush in 2003 and recognizes those who have volunteered significant time over either a 12-month period or during a lifetime.

    The importance of financial literacy education has been highlighted in recent years by the administration of President Barack Obama and California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, along with the California Society of CPAs and a number of lenders in the North Bay and beyond [see "Financial, nonprofit, schools join on financial literacy," March 26, 2012].

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    Submit items for this column to eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4259.

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