Monday, December 9, 2019

2020 Q1 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2020. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.
January 31
  • File 2019 Forms W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees.
  • Provide copies of 2019 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required.
  • File 2019 Forms 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation payments in Box 7 with the IRS.
  • File Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return,” for 2019. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it’s more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
  • File Form 941, “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,” to report Medicare, Social Security and income taxes withheld in the fourth quarter of 2019. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return. (Employers that have an estimated annual employment tax liability of $1,000 or less may be eligible to file Form 944, “Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return.”)
  • File Form 945, “Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax,” for 2019 to report income tax withheld on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on accounts such as pensions, annuities and IRAs. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
February 28
  • File 2019 Forms 1099-MISC with the IRS if 1) they’re not required to be filed earlier and 2) you’re filing paper copies. (Otherwise, the filing deadline is March 31.)
March 16
  • If a calendar-year partnership or S corporation, file or extend your 2019 tax return and pay any tax due. If the return isn’t extended, this is also the last day to make 2019 contributions to pension and profit-sharing plans.
© 2019

France rejects U.S. proposal on international tax reform

PARIS (Reuters) - France rejects a U.S. idea for companies to opt out of a proposed international tax reform, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday, urging Washington to negotiate in good faith.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is in the midst of the biggest rewrite of international tax rules since the 1920s, aimed at updating them globally for the digital era.
But France and the United States are already on a collision course over the issue, with Washington threatening heavy duties on imports of champagne, cheeses and luxury handbags in retaliation for a separate French digital levy that would be replaced once any global OECD deal was struck.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raised serious questions about the OECD proposals in a letter made public on Wednesday, jarring international officials by floating the idea of a “safe harbor regime”.
He said Washington had serious concerns about any moves to abandon certain current taxation structures such as arm’s-length transfer pricing, under which companies have to charge the market rate for cross-border transfers within in a group, and what is considered a taxable presence in a given country.
“Frankly I don’t put a lot of stock in the American proposal for an optional solution where companies are free to decide,” Le Maire told a conference on the French fashion industry.
“I haven’t seen a lot of companies that freely accept to be taxed. We can always count on people’s philanthropy, but it doesn’t go very far for the public finances,” he added.
Until Mnuchin’s letter, the United States had been a strong force behind efforts to revamp international tax rules, which are increasingly being put to the test by the rise of big internet companies.
Many governments are deeply frustrated that such companies can legally book profits in low-tax countries such as Ireland regardless of where their clients are.
The OECD proposed in October giving governments more power to tax big multinationals in the country where the end client is. The proposal is to serve as the basis for negotiating the outlines of an agreement by January, with a final deal due later in 2020.
Le Maire said a solution where companies could opt in or out as they pleased would be unacceptable to France and other OECD countries.
He urged Washington to negotiate “in good faith”, which he said meant on the basis that the new rules be binding. He said if the efforts at the OECD, tasked with making the proposals by the G20 group of major economies, fell through, EU countries should revive talks for a European digital tax.

Magnetar Raising $400 Million for Its First Health-Care Hedge Fund

Magnetar Capital, which has made billions on its energy and infrastructure bets, is joining others who are seeing green lights flashing in healthcare.
The $13.4 billion hedge fund is seeking to raise $400 million, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar. The Evanston, Illinois-based firm is planning to close the fundraising by mid-2020, and focus on established companies in an effort to avoid risks brought by uncertain results of drug trials. 
Tech firms, private equity and venture capital are all investing more in healthcare, boosted by  aging Western populations, advances in gene therapy as well as artificial intelligence and digitization applications. As global spending is expected to reach $6.5 trillion, tech companies from Apple to Google have expanded in healthcare, 
Global private investment in the healthcare industry has reached a record $108 billion this year, a 12% jump from 2018. Artificial intelligence-medical company Babylon Health scored $550 million in series C in August led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the largest VC deal of the year, according to PitchBook data.  
Magnetar’s team will take 15 to 30 long holdings and 20 to 40 short positions on healthcare stocks including pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare services, Bloomberg reported. 
  • The bullishness extends to Europe and Asia. GHO Capital last month said it raised a more-than-expected $1.1 billion for the largest-ever European healthcare-focused fund. Japan’s Softbank is also planning investments in healthcare startups. 
  • Magnetar has invested in three companies and exited one this year, according to PitchBook. The biggest investment is a $625 million PIPE deal in Houston-based natural gas producer Altus Midstream. It exited oil producer Covey Park Energy, when the Dallas-based company was acquired by Comstock Resources for $2.2 billion in July.
  • Other healthcare fundraisings this year include $2 billion at Woodline partners and $750 million at Avidity Partners, Bloomberg said. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

3 last-minute tips that may help trim your tax bill

If you’re starting to fret about your 2019 tax bill, there’s good news — you may still have time to reduce your liability. Three strategies are available that may help you cut your taxes before year-end, including:
1. Accelerate deductions/defer income. Certain tax deductions are claimed for the year of payment, such as the mortgage interest deduction. So, if you make your January 2020 payment this month, you can deduct the interest portion on your 2019 tax return (assuming you itemize).
Pushing income into the new year also will reduce your taxable income. If you’re expecting a bonus at work, for example, and you don’t want the income this year, ask if your employer can hold off on paying it until January. If you’re self-employed, you can delay your invoices until late in December to divert the revenue to 2020.
You shouldn’t pursue this approach if you expect to land in a higher tax bracket next year. Also, if you’re eligible for the qualified business income deduction for pass-through entities, you might reduce the amount of that deduction if you reduce your income.
2. Maximize your retirement contributions. What could be better than paying yourself instead of Uncle Sam? Federal tax law encourages individual taxpayers to make the maximum allowable contributions for the year to their retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs and SEP plans, 401(k)s and deferred annuities.
For 2019, you generally can contribute as much as $19,000 to 401(k)s and $6,000 for traditional IRAs. Self-employed individuals can contribute up to 25% of your net income (but no more than $56,000) to a SEP IRA.
3. Harvest your investment losses. Losing money on your investments has a bit of an upside — it gives you the opportunity to offset taxable gains. If you sell underperforming investments before the end of the year, you can offset gains realized this year on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
If you have more losses than gains, you generally can apply up to $3,000 of the excess to reduce your ordinary income. Any remaining losses are carried forward to future tax years.
We can help
The strategies described above are only a sampling of strategies that may be available. Contact us if you have questions about these or other methods for minimizing your tax liability for 2019.
© 2019

Biogen’s stock rises 3% after company releases new data on late-stage Alzheimer’s drug

Biogen shares rose Thursday after the biotech firm offered more data on its late-stage Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab.

The data, presented at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference, offered almost no new results from what the company previously released in October. However, analysts who parsed through it said the lack of any new negatives in the report means they expect the company will take the data to the Food and Drug Administration.

“The data is so confusing,” said Jared Holz, a health-care strategist at Jefferies, adding the report did show a slightly better response to the drug at higher doses.

Dr. Eric Siemers, an Alzheimer’s expert who previously led Alzheimer’s research at Eli Lilly, also noted the company offered a more detailed look but “almost the same as they showed” previously.

Shares of Biogen closed up 3% on Thursday after falling 3% immediately on the news. Prior to the announcement, Biogen shares were halted at $286.83. The stock, which had a market value of nearly $52 billion at the time, is down nearly 5% since the start of the year.

The drug targets a compound in the brain known as beta-amyloid, which is thought to play a role in the devastating disease.
In March, Biogen pulled the plug on its drug after an analysis from an independent audit revealed the experimental medicine was unlikely to work. The news sent its stock tumbling. However, shares of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company soared on Oct. 22 after the drugmaker shocked investors by announcing it was seeking regulatory approval for the drug after all.

Biogen said at the time that a new analysis of a larger data set showed that aducanumab “reduced clinical decline in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease” and patients who received the drug “experienced significant benefits on measures of cognition and function such as memory, orientation, and language.”

The findings in October were met with skepticism from investors and analysts who said the results may have just been by chance. Some analysts remained skeptical after Thursday’s results from the two late-stage studies, saying it raised more questions.

Salim Syed, a senior biotech analyst at Mizuho Securities, said in a note to clients that the new data is “not impressive,” adding it “represents a highly selected patients population that may not be representative of a real world.”
Experts discussing the results on a panel Thursday were largely positive.
Sharon Cohen, a primary investigator on Biogen’s trial, said the data is “is exhilarating not just to the scientific community but to our patients as well.”

There are currently no drugs approved that can reverse the mental decline from Alzheimer’s, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. The FDA has approved Alzheimer’s drugs aimed at helping symptoms, not actually reversing or slowing the disease itself.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The future of Mattel is about a lot more than making toys, CEO says

The future of American toymaker Mattel involves a lot more than just selling toys, the company’s CEO, Ynon Kreiz, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday.

Toys will always be the foundation, but it’s also about “commercializing our brands and finding transformative opportunities for us to be a part of other verticals that are directly adjacent to the toy industry,” Kreiz, who also is chairman, said in a “Mad Money” interview.

Think film, television, live events, games and music, Kreiz said, which all are a “tremendous opportunity for a company like Mattel that owns such a strong collection of ... global brands that have so much resonance and appeal.”
Its well-known brands such as Fisher-Price, Barbie and American Girl aside, Mattel, as a company, has struggled in recent years as consumer tastes shift.
In April 2018, Kreiz became its fourth CEOs in four years. It was hit hard by the bankruptcy of Toys R Us, and it also underwent an investigation into accounting errors.

But in October, Mattel reported better-than-expected earnings and saw its shares jump as much as 20% in extended trading following the news.
Shares of Mattel closed up 4% on Wednesday at $11.62. While the stock remains off its 52-week high of $17.27, which it hit in February, it’s still up 16.32% year to date.

From Day One, Kreiz said his long-term vision for Mattel included a more diversified company. He pointed to his background in content creation and intellectual property — not just traditional toys — as motivator for this transformation.

He previously served as CEO of Fox Kids Europe and YouTube content network Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2014.

Already, Mattel has eight movie projects underway, Kreiz said, with well-known partners such as Warner Bros., MGM and Paramount Pictures. For example, Margot Robbie is slated to play Barbie in a movie due out next year, and Tom Hanks is going to play Major Matt Mason in a live-action film.

Kreiz said Mattel is also in the process of a “capital-light” strategy that includes reducing its manufacturing footprint. El Segundo, California-based Mattel has so far consolidated one factory in Mexico, with “more coming,” Kreiz said.

Apple is killing the charging plug on its highest-end phones by 2021, top analyst predicts

Apple could ditch the Lightning connector on the highest-end versions of the iPhone in 2021, meaning the devices will require wireless charging, according to a report on Thursday from Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF Securities.

The removal of the Lightning cable, along with other differentiating updates, will boost shipments and the average selling price of the high-end iPhone models, Kuo, a top Apple analyst, wrote. Without the connector, the top-tier iPhone would provide a “completely wireless experience,” Kuo said.

Speculation has been building for several years that Apple plans to remove the Lightning cable. As far back as 2017, Kuo predicted that Apple would discard the Lightning connector in favor of the USB Type-C connector, which is widely used across the industry.

However, Apple has continued to include Lightning ports in the latest iPhone models. Apple’s new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models, which were announced in September, all have Lightning ports.

Apple has started to include the USB-C connector in some products. The new iPhones support Apple’s fast charger, which promises to deliver up to a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The charger uses USB-C and requires iPhone users to buy a specific cable that goes from the Lightning connector to USB-C ports.