BiggsKofford Phone Server Down for Routine Maintenance

October 17, 2016

Please note that this Friday, October 21st from 3:00-5:00PM, BiggsKofford‘s phone server will be down for normal maintenance. If you need to email us, please email your contact at the firm directly or send an email to our general information address here. We will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner.

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Americans’ Biggest Retirement Fear: Running Out of Money

October 07, 2016

(Journal of Accountancy, By Lea Hart; Published October 2016)

As the 4 million people retiring this year think about the future, they fear outliving their money more than anything else.

Forty-one percent of CPA financial planners say running out of money is their clients’ top concern about retirement—including those clients who have a high net worth, according to a survey conducted recently by the AICPA.

“The elderly are living longer than their projected longevity and, as a result, are running out of money,” said Susan Tillery, CPA/PFS, chair of the AICPA’s PFS Credential Committee. “The fear of running out of money in retirement has always been present. However, we are at a demographic crossroads where the Baby Boomers, who hold the largest amount of retirement assets, are supporting both their parents and their children. This has amplified the fear.”

The AICPA PFP Trends Survey, an online survey of CPAs who are members of the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Section, also showed that 29% of planners say clients’ top concern is maintaining their current lifestyle and spending level, while 11% say their clients worry most about rising health care costs.

Personal financial planners can address their clients’ fears of outliving their savings by running a number of models “to determine the lowest rate of return at the least amount of risk needed to achieve the client’s goals,” said Tillery, who is also president and co-founder of Paraklete Financial Inc. Members of her practice, she said, run five models for each client, which helps instill confidence in the process and the results. She also recommends projecting models out to age 100 to give clients a better picture of what their finances might look like if they live for a very long time.

Though clients worry most about money early in retirement, after 10 or more years of retirement, health becomes their area of greatest concern. Forty-four percent of financial planners say that serious illness, including dementia and diminished capacity, is their clients’ top concern after 10 or more years of retirement. Twenty-eight percent said their clients’ No. 1 fear later in retirement was experiencing a sharp decline in the value of their investments, while 19% said clients were most concerned about moving out of their home to live in assisted care.

Compared to last year’s PFP Trends Survey, Tillery said, this year’s survey reveals “an increased awareness of diminished capacity and rising health care costs.”

Though clients have grown more concerned about cognitive decline, most aren’t planning for the possibility that they might experience diminished mental capacity in retirement. Just 18% of financial planners say clients are proactive about the issue, while over one-third (35%) say clients are thinking about it but haven’t decided on a course of action.

Members of the PFP Executive Committee have developed a Diminished Mental Capacity Checklist to help financial planners discuss the issue with clients. The committee’s recommendations for financial planners include:

  • Assessing who within the client’s circle of relatives, friends, and professionals would take action if needed, and set the necessary authorizations for each to talk to the other.
  • Reviewing clients’ estate planning documents.
  • Taking steps to mitigate the risk of elder abuse.
  • Discussing housing options with the client.

In addition, Tillery and Jean-Luc Bourdon, CPA/PFS, a member of the AICPA’s PFP Executive Committee, offer several suggestions as to how financial planners can best address clients’ concerns about diminished capacity:

Don’t assume anything. When it comes to dementia and diminished capacity, it’s important to ask questions, offer resources, and inform clients, said Bourdon, who is also a principal of BrightPath Wealth Planning LLC. It’s important not to assume that clients aren’t concerned or affected, or that someone else will address the issue with them. What’s more, don’t assume clients know what to do, or that a financial planner’s advice would be inappropriate or unwelcome to them, he said.

Address diminished capacity through proper estate planning. Ensure that clients have established the necessary powers of attorney, HIPAA and health care directives, and that they have a plan in place for cognitive care, Tillery said. Advisers should also discuss the possibility of implementing a trust-based estate plan with clients, which she believes is “necessary to properly address dementia and incapacity issues.”

Be proactive. Too often, Bourdon said, advisers and families only take steps to assist a person with diminished capacity “once the problem has become painfully obvious.” He stated, “Developing a protective structure around older clients should be done well before the blows come.” While having that conversation may be difficult, he said, the long-term benefits are worth the temporary discomfort. One tactic advisers can try, he said, is to explain that they have seen these life scenarios unfold in the past, and ask clients’ permission to assess what might be most helpful to them and their family.

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2 Major FAFSA Changes You Need to Be Aware of

October 03, 2016

FAFSA Changes shocked girl

(Department of Education, Published August 2016)

There are two exciting changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA®) process this year.

1. The 2017–18 FAFSA will be available earlier.

You can file your 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.

2. You’ll use earlier income and tax information.

Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, you’ll be required to report income and tax info from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, you—and your parent(s), as appropriate—will report your 2015 income and tax info, rather than your 2016 income and tax info.

We understand that some families’ income may have changed significantly since the 2015 tax year. If this is the case for you, you must complete the FAFSA with the info it asks for (2015). Then, after filing your FAFSA, contact the financial aid office at your school to explain your situation. The school has the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA.

The following table provides a summary of key dates as we transition to using the early FAFSA submission timeframe and earlier tax information.

When a Student Is Attending College (School Year) When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA Which Year’s Income Tax Information Is Required
July 1, 2015–June 30, 2016 January 1, 2015–June 30, 2016 2014
July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017 January 1, 2016–June 30, 2017 2015
July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018 October 1, 2016–June 30, 2018 2015
July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019 October 1, 2017–June 30, 2019 2016

We know you probably have some questions. Here are some we’ve been hearing from students:

How will the changes benefit me?

You might find that the FAFSA process is easier than you expected.

  • From now on, the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information that you will already have. This change means you won’t have to use estimates anymore, or log in later to update your FAFSA after you file taxes!
  • Because you’ll already have done your 2015 taxes by the time you fill out your 2017–18 FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA.
  • Having the FAFSA available three months earlier will give you more time to meet most deadlines (although some will be early, so fill out the FAFSA right away just in case) and to explore and understand your financial aid options.

Since the 2017–18 FAFSA asks for the same tax and income information as the 2016–17 FAFSA, will my 2016–17 FAFSA info automatically be carried over into my 2017–18 renewal FAFSA?

No. Too much could have changed since you filed your last FAFSA, and there’s no way to predict what might be different, so you’ll need to enter the information again. However, keep in mind that many people are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import their 2015 tax information into the FAFSA, making the process of reporting tax info quick and easy.


Do I have to update my 2017–18 FAFSA with my 2016 tax information after I file my 2016 taxes?

No. The 2017–18 FAFSA asks for 2015 tax info, and only 2015. Beginning October 1, you can fully submit the FAFSA in one sitting using your 2015 tax info. No updating necessary. (Hooray!)


But what if my family’s financial situation has changed since our 2015 taxes were filed? Can we report our 2016 tax information instead?

No. You must report your 2015 tax info on the 2017–18 FAFSA. You do not have the option to report your 2016 tax info. If your family has experienced a loss of income since the 2015 tax year, talk to the financial aid office at your school. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments.

Note: The FAFSA asks for marital status as of the day you fill it out. So if you’re married now but weren’t in 2015 (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), you’ll need to add your spouse’s income to your FAFSA.

Similarly, if you filed your 2015 taxes as married but you’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll need to subtract your spouse’s income.


Since I’m required to report my 2015 tax information, do I also answer all the other questions on the FAFSA using information from 2015?

No. Here’s a guide for which year’s info you should use to answer the different types of questions on the FAFSA.


Will FAFSA deadlines be earlier since the application is launching earlier?

We expect that most state and school deadlines will remain approximately the same as in 2016–17. However, several states that offer first come, first served financial aid will change their deadlines from “as soon as possible after January 1” to “as soon as possible after October 1.” So, as always, it’s important that you check your state and school deadlines so that you don’t miss out on any aid. State deadlines are on fafsa.gov; school deadlines are on schools’ websites.


Can I fill out the FAFSA before I submit my college applications?

Yes, you can fill out the FAFSA even before you’ve submitted your college applications. Add every school you’re considering to your FAFSA, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. Even if you’re on the fence about applying to a particular school, add it. It will hold your place in line for financial aid in case you end up applying for admission at that school. You can always remove schools later if you decide not to apply (but you don’t have to).


Will I receive aid offers earlier if I apply earlier?

Not necessarily; some schools will make offers earlier while others won’t. If you’re applying to multiple schools or thinking of transferring to another school, you might want to look at the College Scorecard to compare costs at different schools while you wait for your aid offers to arrive. Note: You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2017–18 might not be known until early 2017, so keep in mind that even if you do receive an aid offer early, it could change due to various factors.


Where can I get more information about—and help with—the FAFSA?

Visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa/filling-out; and remember, as you fill out your FAFSA atfafsa.gov, you can refer to help text for every question and (during certain times of day) chat online with a customer service representative.

Have questions about the new FAFSA deadline? Call us at 719-579-9090. We are here to help!

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New IRS e-Services Authentication Process Requires Re-registration

September 27, 2016

(Journal of Accountancy, By Sally P. Schreiber; Published September 2016)

The IRS notified tax practitioners and taxpayers who use many IRS e-services that it is strengthening the authentication process for identifying users and that the new, more stringent procedures will require existing users to re-register (Oct. 24 is the target date for the start of re-registration) (IRS website, “Important Update About Your e-Services Account” (9/22/16)).

Any current e-account holder is affected, which the IRS said includes:

  • Electronic return originators;
  • Return transmitters;
  • Large business taxpayers required to e-file;
  • Software developers;
  • Health care law insurance provider fee/branded prescription drug filers;
  • Health care law information return transmitters/issuers;
  • Reporting agents;
  • Not-for-profit (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC)) users;
  • States that use Transcript Delivery Service; and
  • Income Verification Express Service (IVES) participants.

E-services account holders who use only the taxpayer identification number (TIN) matching program will also need to validate their identity but will have a streamlined process because they do not exchange sensitive data. (TIN matching allows payers reporting payments on Forms 1099 to check the payee’s TIN with the IRS before filing.)

Current users who return to their accounts on or after Oct. 24 will be required to update their account information through the IRS’s “Secure Access” process, which includes proving the user’s identity, verification using financial records, and mobile phone verification. Secure Access employs a two-factor authentication process, under which returning users, once they have successfully registered, must provide their credentials (username and password) and the security code sent to their mobile phone by text. These are the same procedures that already apply to the Get Transcript process and the identity protection personal identification number (IP PIN) process for identity theft victims.

This two-factor authentication process is intended to prevent cybercriminals from accessing the accounts when they obtain usernames and passwords through phishing.

Users who have already registered through Get Transcript will not have to re-register for these other services, but they will have to change their password when they return to the website. They should be aware that they will have the same username for their personal accounts, such as a Get Transcript account, as they do for e-services. To help users with the new authentication process, the IRS is hiring additional staff to assist at the e-Help Desk.

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Director Featured on Popular Podcast

September 15, 2016

Greg Papineau, Director at BiggsKofford, was featured on the popular Green Apple Podcast. To listen to their interview, click here!

John Garrett, self-proclaimed Recovering CPA and creator of the Green Apple Podcast, interviewed Greg and captioned the following about their discussion:

Greg serves others to create stronger client relationships

Greg Papineau takes service to a whole new level, especially now that he’s a Deacon in the Catholic Church. He was first called to this in 2000 as a chaperone on his son’s World Youth Day visit to the Vatican. Since then, he’s been ordained and in his words, can “marry, bury and baptize”. And, oh yeah, he also happens to be the 1989 Colorado State Champion Cyclist.

In this episode, we talk about how the word “Deacon” is derived from a Greek word meaning “servant”. Greg is always thinking how he can be even more service oriented and also develop a personal interest in clients and coworkers. This leads to a cycling group that meets in the warmer months and team meetings starting where the new staff members tell everyone a little bit about their life outside of work.

Greg Papineau works as the Director of Audit & Assurance for BiggsKofford, PC. He’s also the lead for the Firm’s Physician Group Services and Non-profit Services. Prior to joining BiggsKofford, he was a Controller in the banking industry after spending a few years at a different public accounting firm.

He has a Bachelor of Science, Accounting from Central Washington University.”

 

To hear their podcast, click here!

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BiggsKofford Books and Brews

September 12, 2016

books-and-brews-event-1

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At the “Webside’

August 29, 2016

(Modern Healthcare, By Erica Teichert; Published August 2016)

 

When Kaiser Permanente’s emergency room wait times began rising three years ago, Dr. Dennis Truong and a colleague launched a telemedicine program to provide faster access to care for their patients.

At the time, there weren’t many training programs for telemedicine or for developing good “webside” manner, which can greatly improve patients’ adherence to treatment. Instead, Truong had to learn on the fly.

“We essentially created our own webside manners through experience and through inter-regional sharing with our other KP regions,” said Truong, telemedicine director for the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, McLean, Va.

Like its cousin “bedside manner,” webside manner is a key skill for clinicians involved in telemedicine, experts say. Physicians must proffer an empathetic and compassionate presence to calm fears and provide hope for patients who may be suffering from serious or even not-so-serious illness. Medical schools have always included training in bedside manner in their curricula.

And that’s not just because they want to make a patient feel better about an encounter with the healthcare system. According to a 2014 study published in PLOS One, bedside manner can have a statistically significant impact on patient health, affecting the incidence of obesity, asthma, diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis. It can also affect weight loss or blood sugar levels in patients.

But clinicians are going to have to rethink how they deliver this important element of their craft as medicine moves deeper into the digital age. Telemedicine is booming, with startups and new applications springing up constantly.

Approximately 71% of employers say they will offer telemedicine consults through their health plans by 2017. Investment is growing too; the telemedicine market was worth about $500 million in 2014, but that is expected to balloon to $13 billion in 2020, said Fletcher Lance, managing director and global healthcare lead of North Highland, an Atlanta-based global consulting firm.

That’s why experts and consultants are encouraging physicians to prepare for virtual visits with appropriate equipment and a well-developed “webside manner,” which includes all the same skills as bedside manner but has a number of its own requirements. Just like during a traditional office visit, clinicians must juggle paying attention to the patient with filling out electronic health records and other forms. It’s as important to put patients at ease in a virtual environment as it is in an office.

“I think that people forget sometimes in healthcare when we’re very focused on the profession, the data, the latest and greatest of science, we forget that healthcare has two words in it. One is health, one is care,” said Ron Gutman, CEO and founder of HealthTap.

HealthTap has amassed a network of 120,000 physicians providing virtual care via video visits, an online query center and answer library. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company also developed a series of training programs to help physicians prepare to enter the telemedicine world, including a free certification class that offers a level 1 continuing medical education credit. The class started a couple months ago.

While HealthTap and other groups offer certification and training courses for physicians who want to use telemedicine, preparation classes are only starting to take hold at medical schools. The University of Arizona has incorporated some telemedicine into its medical school, according to Elizabeth Krupinski, a University of Arizona professor and associate director of evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program. But there are no formal requirements for telemedicine education in medical school curricula yet.

It may not take considerable formal training to get comfortable with telemedicine practices, though. In many cases, it simply requires common sense. According to Gutman, starting a virtual visit off right with proper webside manner is a key element to a successful telemedicine episode. “Every consultation starts with a smile and ends with a checklist,” he said.

That checklist could involve using proper intake documentation and following a framework to determine whether a virtual visit diagnosis is appropriate or a follow-up in-person visit will be necessary. By making patients comfortable during their telemedicine appointments, physicians can improve patients’ confidence and the likelihood they’ll adhere to treatment regimens, Gutman said.

But doctors need to be confident in their own abilities, according to HealthTap’s chief medical officer, Geoff Rutledge. Rather than erring on the side of not diagnosing patients, Rutledge encourages physicians in telemedicine to follow their checklists. “There is a presence that you project through the virtual channel and you should be conscious of it,” he said.

That presence can be improved with good patient communication, whether it’s explaining that they’ll be looking at a patient’s record on a screen for a moment rather making eye contact or asking a patient to provide more information with a blood pressure cuff.

While good bedside manner easily translates into good webside manner for most doctors, experts encourage physicians to get some training before they start seeing virtual patients so they understand the differences between telemedicine and face-to-face consultations. Just as in the office, physicians should present themselves professionally in virtual settings, paying attention to their office layout, surrounding equipment and their dress.

HealthTap has amassed a network of 120,000 physicians providing virtual care via video visits, an online query center and answer library.“When you’re conducting a videoconference with a patient, it’s not the same thing as getting up Saturday morning, going on FaceTime and talking to your best buddy,” Krupinski said. “It’s not that simple.”

Lighting and background are key elements of getting webside manner right, Krupinski said. If a physician sets himself up in front of a window, he’ll look like a dark shadow. If he has a cluttered or shabby backdrop, it may not sit well with patients.

In addition, physicians should be aware of their internet connection, camera resolution and audio equipment to make sure their stream won’t cut out in midsession. “If someone has a first bad taste, that’s not good for anything,” said Dr. Jim Marcin, head of pediatric critical-care medicine at the UC Davis Health System, Sacramento, Calif.

In Northern California, Marcin and his colleagues use telemedicine to provide virtual support to other hospitals and physicians and curb unnecessary transfers in their emergency departments. Specialists can appear remotely in ICUs to speak with patients, their parents or their local doctors and help determine a treatment regimen.

So far, Marcin says specialists, patients and local doctors have appreciated the live interactive video consultations. Studies have shown they’re capable of providing the same care and diagnoses via telemedicine as they can deliver in person.

“It’s a win-win-win,” he said. Marcin believes telemedicine also performs well in delivering mental health, endocrinology and other specialty services that require more thinking and talking. It works less well for specialties that require more physical examinations.

According to Marcin, even 15 minutes of basic video etiquette training can help clinicians become comfortable with using telemedicine and develop a better webside manner. The UC Davis system provides training and does extensive equipment testing at its remote sites before setting up its virtual consultation systems.

“It’s just a different medium in providing care,” Marcin said. “Once they have basic pointers on what to do, those with good interpersonal skills are well-received, and it goes well.”

But Marcin and several other experts voiced concern over the direct-to-consumer model that some telemedicine providers have taken, which allows individuals to have one-off visits with doctors rather than build relationships with their medical providers.

“That’s the first problem in relationship-building or engagement,” said Arman Samani, chief technology officer at AdvancedMD, an EHR and practice-management software company. “If you don’t know somebody, if you’re going to have one transaction with them, how can you engage with them effectively?”

Samani and his AdvancedMD colleagues encourage physicians to start using telemedicine with their existing clients before considering expanding to new clients or a larger geographical market. Even then, doctors should discourage using telemedicine as a one-off solution in favor of developing relationships with their expanding clientele.

That could include sending marketing messages to patients to let them know about telemedicine offerings and making it as easy to set up a virtual visit as an in-house appointment, Samani said.

However, there’s a convenience factor—for both doctors and patients—who use broad telemedicine networks such as HealthTap. Dr. Dariush Saghafi, a neurologist in Parma, Ohio, has been using HealthTap’s virtual platform since 2013, first by answering questions on the platform’s public Q&A board before conducting full-fledged consultations.

Saghafi acknowledged that doctor-patient relationships generally start with a physical visit since it can be difficult to adapt to a fully virtual relationship or refer far-flung patients to providers in their area for follow-up visits. “You kind of learn how to work around that,” he said. “You learn where the safe zones are to tread in when you’re recommending interventions, treatments and prescriptions.”

Kaiser’s Truong noted that his system encourages clinicians to “up-triage” patients for physical examinations when needed. Kaiser, which has made a major commitment to telehealth and projects it will log more telehealth visits than office visits within a few years, offers telemedicine training and live demonstrations for physicians.

“Remember that the patient on the other side, this may be their first time receiving care by video, too,” he said. “You’re both experiencing this newly together.”

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Enterprise Edge | Economic Snapshot 2016

August 22, 2016

Economic Snapshot 

What to Expect from Our Local and State Economy

Guest Speaker
 
Tatiana Bailey, Ph.D.
Director, Southern Colorado Economic Forum

 

What We’ll Discuss:  
  • National Economy Overview- Major Indicators & What They Mean 
  • Residential and Commercial Real Estate Markets
  • What Sectors Are Growing in Our Region
  • Specific Job Openings in the Colorado Springs MSA
  • The National and Local Labor Markets
  • Forum Sneak Preview: Colorado Springs: Going for the Gold

 

  
Join us for the tenth year of one of our most popular sessions. We will preview the 20th Annual 
UCCS Economic Forum, which is October 14, 2016. Register for the forum at  http://www.uccseconomicforum.com/
 
 
Thursday, September 8, 2016
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Cheyenne Mountain Resort 
3225 Broadmoor Valley Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80906 

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ColoradoCare An Independent Analysis

August 19, 2016

Colorado voters have a momentous choice to make about their health care this fall. Amendment 69 would create ColoradoCare, a revolutionary system to pay for health care. It’s a response to concerns that the current system costs too much and fails to provide for everyone’s health needs. ColoradoCare would resemble some systems in Canada and Europe, where every resident has health coverage financed by taxes instead of private insurance premiums, but would be a first for an American state. To read more, click here.

If you have questions about ColoradoCare, BiggsKofford is here to help. Give us a call at (719) 579-9090.

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Financial Analysis of ColoradoCare

August 12, 2016

(Colorado Health Institute; Published August 2016)

ColoradoCare, the proposed universal health care system on November’s ballot, would struggle to bring in enough revenue to cover its costs, according to an independent financial analysis released by the Colorado Health Institute.

The Colorado Health Institute is a nonpartisan source of independent and objective health information, data and analysis. The new study finds that:

  • ColoradoCare would nearly break even in its first year, but would slide into ever-increasing deficits in future years without additional tax increases.
  • On the plus side for ColoradoCare, it would be able to reach its goal of saving money in the health care system by cutting billions of dollars in administrative costs and insurance company profits. That money could be reallocated to provide health insurance to the 6.7 percent of Coloradans who remain uninsured, making Colorado the first state to achieve universal coverage.
  • However, the revenues for ColoradoCare — primarily from a new 10 percent income tax — wouldn’t be able to keep up with increasing health care costs, resulting in red ink each year of its first decade.

The analysis finds that ColoradoCare would face the same financial dilemma as the current health care system — the inability to tame rising health care costs. That would create a structural problem.

Although savings on administrative costs would grow over time, those savings would be overwhelmed by the increasing cost of health care, which is projected to grow faster than tax revenue. This is crucial because taxes would account for roughly two-thirds of ColoradoCare’s projected funding.

This is the second in a series of independent analyses by the Colorado Health Institute of Amendment 69, the proposed constitutional amendment that would create ColoradoCare. The first installment, published in April, focused on how ColoradoCare would work and posed key questions about its structure, financing and governance.

Michele Lueck, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Institute, said that these analyses of ColoradoCare fulfill an important part of the organization’s mission of bringing evidence-based information and rigorous analysis to key health care policy discussions.

“By mission and by charge, we do not take positions on legislative choices, policy options or proposed constitutional amendments,” she said. “Our job is to shed light on the issues, bring in disciplined analysis, often where there isn’t any, and allow educated voters and policymakers to make informed choices on matters of health and health care.”

An infographic detailing how the Colorado Health Institute conducted the analysis is available here.

Have questions about ColoradoCare? Give us a call at (719) 579-9090. We are here for you.

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BiggsKofford
630 Southpointe Court, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

P: 719.579.9090 | F: 719.576.0126
info@biggskofford.com

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