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The Impact of Technology

February 3, 2014

 

How has technology changed the accounting profession?
 

Information technology has changed the nature of accounting, shifting it into a fast-paced and dynamic profession. With programs such as Microsoft Excel, accountants now have electronic spreadsheets, easing the computational part of financial analysis. Furthermore, the dependence on adding machines, calculators and manual ledger books has greatly diminished over the years. As a result of the increased speed and accuracy provided by technology, accountants nowadays have more time to interpret data, give good financial advice and suggest smart business decisions to their clients.

 

What have we done as a firm and how does it affect our client?
 

We at ECS Financial Services, Inc., take pride in our ability to adapt to the diverse needs and business practices of our clients. We strive to stay up-to-date with current accounting software, while simultaneously accommodating businesses that prefer traditional means of accounting services and communication. It is evident that rapidly evolving technology and an emerging generation of users who embrace innovation are combining to create powerful change.

 

Accordingly, we would like to inform you of some of the options ECS is able to provide. Businesses that are trending towards an increasingly tech-savvy future should consider connecting with us via the Cloud. What is the Cloud? The Cloud is a fancy term for the internet – in other words, a network of servers. Essentially, end users access Cloud-based applications through a web browser or mobile application while the business software and user’s data are stored on servers at a remote location. If you have ever checked your email online, you have already used the Cloud. It allows us to check our email, collaborate online and store files that are easily accessible by multiple parties. Through various “Cloud-based” sources such as Intuit QuickBooks Online and a CCH-based portal system, we are able to link electronically, increasing efficiency and cutting down on travel costs. These options eliminate the need for installation, maintenance or upkeep, and your data is accessible anytime from your internet-connected device, including a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Furthermore, both QuickBooks Online and the CCH-based portal system are hosted on the servers of their respective companies using advanced, industry-recognized security safeguards to keep all of your financial data private and protected.

 

Our firm will increasingly be using the Cloud to create an anywhere, anytime environment for ourselves and our clients. It will bring speed, convenience, ease of access and collaborative qualities to the business experience. It is widely believed that over the next decade, the Cloud will be the primary tool used by successful companies. It is expected that Cloud computing will replace in-office servers and paper-based filing systems and provide the necessary tools and security to allow companies to move to a more paperless way of doing business. It will also be a repository for accounting and tax software used in our office, at a client’s place of business, or on the road by client staff and accountants alike. The sentiment is that if companies and accounting firms do not use the Cloud, they are going to be left behind.

 

Please feel free to call or email your ECS contact to discuss the various ways we can connect with you.

 

Update on Cook County Use Tax on Non-Titled Tangible Personal Property
 

In November 2012, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the County’s fiscal year 2013 budget. As part of the budget, a new tax was enacted on the use of non-titled personal property. The Board justified the ordinance as a means to close alleged “tax loopholes” and to provide an incentive to purchase non-titled property within the county. In May 2013, ECS published an article informing readers of this tax which was effective April 1, 2013. Initially, a 1.25% tax was to be imposed on the value of non-titled personal property purchased outside of the county when first used in Cook County. The Cook County Board reduced the tax from 1.25% to 0.75% effective June 1, 2013.

 

Per the ruling, every person in Cook County who, in the course of business, acquired non-titled property from outside the county was required to register with Cook County’s Department of Revenue to remit the tax. Returns were to be filed on or before the 20th day of each month, remitting tax due on any transaction that occurred in the immediately preceding month. A credit was available for the first non-titled property value at $3,500 at the time of first use within the county, which was to be applied against the taxpayer’s aggregate county use tax liability for the taxable year.

 

As expected, the ordinance faced a great deal of opposition. In October 2013, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Robert Lopez Cepero entered two preliminary injunctions blocking imposition and enforcement of the Cook County use tax, deeming it unconstitutional. While these injunctions are being considered, taxpayers do not have to file returns or remit payment for this tax.

 

It is important to keep in mind, however, that the County has filed a Notice of Appeal which means that the case is not final. The Illinois courts have not yet ruled on the ultimate merits of the tax, so after additional proceedings they could hold the tax to be valid. Therefore, taxpayers should continue to monitor developments and be prepared to quickly file returns in the event the injunction is lifted or a court requires taxpayers to begin filing returns. In addition, the Illinois legislation could make changes to the Counties Code. All of these scenarios require taxpayers to continue to track the potential Cook County use tax on non-titled personal property. We will continue to monitor this case and keep you informed of your tax reporting requirements.


2014 Tax Due Dates:

February 28th –

Forms 1096 & 1099 forms due to government
Forms W-3 and Copy A of W-2’s due to government
Monthly Illinois wage report for January due (employers with 50 or more employees)

March 17th –

Income tax returns due for both C and S – Corporations
Extensions due for both C and S – Corporations unable to file by this date            

March 31st –

Monthly Illinois wage report for February due (employers with 50 or more employees)

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