January 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

“That’s just the way it is; things’ll never be the same.”  Those words are the hook for Tupac Shakur’s famous song “Changes” that was released in 1998.  His song was referencing the African-American experience in urban populations back in the 90’s, but the concept of things never being the same has been an experience for everyone.  The key is how people respond to it.

Our world today is experiencing change more rapidly, and that has people feeling uncomfortable.  Technology has been one of the main culprits to the acceleration of ideas and experiences, and this has caused a disruption in industries not accustomed to it.  Artificial intelligence and block chain are the two biggest technology trends today, and they will force us to reevaluate the way we conduct business today.

The technology change is causing a lot of concerns itself, but we also have the baby-boomer generation leaving the workforce.  The boomer generation was famed for their work ethic and commitment to getting the job done.  As they step down from leadership, workforces will be making a big cultural shift with work-life balance. Also, companies will have difficulties replacing the knowledge and experience that will be retiring.  Both changes will reshape an organization and some companies will struggle finding leadership to get the job done.  For those who are willingly and can successfully handle the two big shifts happening in the world today, there are huge opportunities available.

With change, individuals/companies will go through four different stages.  The first stage begins when a change surfaces or is introduced.  People go through denial, even if they do not know it.  It is easier to believe everything will stay the same, instead of thinking what it could look like and how we get there.  Stage 2 is resistance and the notion that this change will start to disrupt their life.  People will try to stop the change or fight for the fear of loss.  When people stay in the first two stages, they will have a challenging time being successful and will react with different emotions including shock, denial, anger, and fear.

At stage 3, you start to explore the possibility of change and accept the latest ideas.  During this stage, you can find possible solutions for change, but this can lead the group back to resistance.  It is important to keep moving forward, and not dwell to much with resistance.  Stage 4, the final stage, you commit to the change and rebuild your model.  Not everyone will be on board, but find a champion to help push this commitment for the company.  Once change is implemented, it will eventually become the new “normal” for people, and the emotions of shock, denial, anger and fear will be forgotten.

With our fast-changing world, it’s more important than ever for individuals to spend less time in stage 1 and 2.  If you struggle with getting through the first two stages, there is a good chance you will not keep up with the status quo you have been familiar with.  Many individuals/industries will fail to reach stage 3 and 4 of change with the technology and transition of generational workforce, which allows opportunities for businesses to get stronger or become a major player in their industry.

At the end of “Changes”, Tupac says “Some things will never change”.  I do believe some of the issues he discussed in the song could be a slow, but we cannot have that mentality of “never changing”.  We need to refocus our expectations and assume change will happen.  With that mindset in this fast-changing world, we should always be ready.

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Jonathan Porter | Manager

Wendy Moran Discusses the New Revenue Recognition Guidance for Real Estate Companies

January 28, 2019 § Leave a comment

There is new Revenue Recognition Guidance that is required for all non-public companies for years beginning after December 15, 2018. Check out this video where Wendy Moran, Assurance Partner, gives an overview of the 5 steps of #RevRec for real estate companies. #RealEstate #MHCScpa

Are You Acquiring or Starting a Business?

January 23, 2019 § Leave a comment

Are you thinking about starting a new business or acquiring one? Our Business Advisory team helps many of our clients with a variety of decisions at this early stage to help achieve their objectives. Check out this video by Brian Newton, Partner, as he provides a quick overview. #BusinessPlanning #BusinessAdvisoryServices #LeadingTheWay #MHCScpa


Non-Profit Liquidity Disclosure

January 21, 2019 § Leave a comment

I have gotten a lot of questions about implementing Accounting Standards Update 2016-14 Presentation of Financial statements of Not-for-Profit Entities (ASU).  One that comes up often is related to the new liquidity disclosure requirements.  The new standard requires not-for-profits (NFPs) to provide both qualitative and quantitative information about liquidity and availability of resources.

The qualitative information should communicate how the NFP manages its available liquid resources to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the statement of financial position date.  The quantitative information should communicate the availability of financial assets to meet those same needs within that same time frame.  The availability may be impacted by external limits imposed by donors, contracts with others or internal limits set by the board of directors.

Consider what are you trying to communicate to the financial statement users.  Those users may include the board of directors, potential donors or grantors, members of the organization, a bank, etc.  Do you have enough resources to fund general expenditures over the next 12 months?  Are you struggling to maintain sufficient resources?  If so, what is your action plan to make it clear to the users of the financial statements that you are managing your resources carefully?  If there are significant resources coming in the next year, consider including the timeline for when those will be received and how they will be used.  These items can be included for both the qualitative and quantitative requirements of the disclosure.

Review your current policies and procedures for board designated funds.  Do you have written policies and procedures?  If not, that is a good place to start.  If a policy already exists, then consider how it is written and if that language may be used in preparing the qualitative information necessary for the disclosure.

Once you have determined the information to be included in your disclosure you must decide on the best presentation.  While examples have been provided in the ASU, there is no one size fits all prescription for the disclosure.  Use what works best for your organization considering who will be reading the financial statements.  Also, feel free to ask MHCS for examples as we would be happy to provide those as a starting point and work with you to be sure all the required information is included.

The ASU is effective for annual financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017 (calendar year 2018 and fiscal year 2019).  Please reach out to us if you have any questions.  We would love to help you make sure your financial statements are clear, concise and conveying the message you want your financial statement users to receive.

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Kristin Clayton, CPA, Senior Manager

Entity Selection Changes with TCJA

January 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

Entity Selection, or choosing how your business will be taxed, has changed since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018. Check out this video by Nick Finkenauer, Tax Director, where he explains the changes and how this could impact entity selection for your organization.

How to Read Your Form W-2

January 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

Have you ever looked at your W-2 when preparing your tax return and wondered why none of the boxes match what your salary is?  Or were you even confused on how to read the form?  Differences between your salary and what is reported on the W-2 are likely due to deduction items that you have requested to be taken out of your paychecks such as retirement, medical and other pre-tax benefits.

But first, you should know that form W-2 boxes 1, 3, 5 and 16 are your wages that are subject to the tax in the corresponding boxes 2, 4, 6 and 17.  As we go through this, it may be beneficial to follow along with the 2018 W-2 form, which can be found at  For instance, Box 1 wages are subject to Federal income taxes and Box 3 wages are subject to Social Security taxes, etc.  Boxes 2, 4, 6 and 17 are the taxes that were withheld and paid to payroll agencies on these wages throughout the calendar year by your employer.  Therefore, your paycheck you receive is less than your gross salary amount.  If you did not have any deductions taken out of your paycheck, boxes 1, 3, 5 and 16 would be your gross salary amount.

As previously mentioned, deductions from your paycheck can cause the wage amounts in boxes 1, 3, 5 and 16 to be reduced.  If you contribute to a traditional, or pre-tax, retirement plan, the amount you have contributed will be reported in Box 12.  The total amount contributed for the year to your traditional retirement plan reduces your wages subject to Federal income tax and state income tax.  Therefore, Boxes 1 and 16 will be reduced by your yearly traditional retirement plan contribution, which saves you from paying tax on the reduction in wage amount.  If you contribute to a Roth, or after-tax, retirement plan, the amount you have contributed will also be reported in Box 12.  However, none of the wage boxes will be reduced for your contribution and this tells the IRS that you were required to pay tax on the wages.  That is why when you retire, you will pay taxes on your distributions from the traditional retirement plan and would not pay any taxes on your Roth retirement plan distributions.

The pre-tax and after-tax treatment is similar for medical plans as well.  Depending on how your employer’s medical plan is set up, it could be a Section 125 plan and treated as pre-tax or you could be paying for your medical benefits with after-tax wages.  Pre-tax medical benefits are not required to be reported on your W-2, like retirement benefits are.  But the amount you have paid towards pre-tax medical benefits in the calendar year will reduce the wages in Boxes 1, 3, 5 and 16 and therefore, is not subject to Federal income taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes or state income taxes.  

If you contribute to a dependent care benefit plan, the amount of your deduction ($5,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers and $2,500 for single taxpayers) is pre-tax as well, if it was used to pay for qualified dependent care expenses.  The wages in Boxes 1, 3, 5 and 16 will be reduced by the amount in Box 10 and reduce the wages subject to the corresponding taxes.

These pre-tax deduction items that you have taken out of your paycheck can reduce the amount of payroll taxes you are required to pay.  This causes the differences in your W-2 wage amounts and your annual salary amount.  Hopefully, this is one less IRS form that you are confused by in the future.  Please reach out to your accountant if you have any further questions.








Makayla Fagen, CPA Supervisor

2018 Year in Review / 2019 Outlook

January 10, 2019 § Leave a comment

As we close out 2018 and we look forward to 2019, it becomes a great time to reflect on the successes of the past year and anticipate with excitement leading the way through 2019. Personally, I’m humbled and blessed to be part of the MHCS family. I continually am amazed at what our team accomplishes. We’ve all heard it, the greatest asset of any organization is its people and that is an absolute truth at MHCS.

The success of MHCS is attributed to our culture defined by our values. In 2018, McGowen Hurst Clark Smith won several awards, including #1 Top Workplace in Iowa by The Des Moines Register in the small employer category and Best Accounting Firm to Work For by Accounting Today, a national publication.  These recognitions are based solely on employee feedback administered by third parties, which makes these honors extra special. Our people are truly living our values in the areas of respect, teamwork, family, and fun, which has created a great culture in which I love being a part of.  

When you have a great group of people who are talented and driven, they want something more than just work. They want purpose. They want to know they are making a difference in this world.  One of the ways we do this is giving back to our communities in which we live, work and play. Team members gave of their time, talents, and treasures throughout the year to multiple Iowa organizations, but emphasized our Month of Service in September in partnership with the Iowa Society of CPA’s. Our team served meals at Bethel Mission’s Hope Café and the Winterset Senior Center. We participated in Read to Succeed, a day of action through United Way, by reading to 3rd graders at DM Public Schools and were readers/testers for Winterset Elementary. In addition, we collected donations for various items for school children in Marshalltown, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa, Children & Families of Iowa and Hope Ministries’ Bethel Mission.  

In fitting MHCS style, we decided to have a little competition with our fellow team members to benefit DMARC Food Pantry. The first annual Iowa vs. Iowa State Spare Change Challenge was born. Money jars for both schools were put in our offices and the school jar with the most funds was featured at our annual Iowa/Iowa State luncheon as the decorations for the room. Iowa State’s jar raised the most funds as our seminar room was filled with cardinal and gold and Iowa was victorious on the football field, but DMARC was the real winner!  In total, team members contributed over 150 volunteer hours in the month of September.  

In continuing that competitive spirit, MHCS participated in the 3rd annual Des Moines Corporate Games.  The corporate games is a company based competition with 25 sports and competitions for 2 months in the summer that enables and supports teamwork, company pride and corporate wellness. As defending champions, we were determined to seize the cup in 2018 and we didn’t disappoint.  It was an entire MHCS team effort with gold medals awarded to the team and individuals in several events. It was a great way to build relationships outside of the office while staying active and bringing home the gold was icing on the cake.  

At MHCS, we also took time to celebrate our people throughout 2018 with their accomplishments and blessings. We congratulated several team members who became certified public accountants and certified fraud examiner. We had several team members exceed expectations and promote within the firm to new positions. We welcomed a new audit partner, Wendy Moran, to our partner group during 2018.  We also welcomed several new team members to the MHCS family, including new employees, their spouses and children. With these additions, we expanded to the 1st floor in our building in West Des Moines. Family has always been a key value for our firm, which is why we welcome not just the employee to the firm, but their entire family is now a part of our family.  

The year also brought new opportunities and new relationships with clients and people in our community.  New tax legislation was passed in early 2018, representing the most significant tax reform this nation has seen since 1986. With issues in understanding how the legislation was going to impact our clients, our team members were up to the challenge and seized the opportunity. We significantly increased our speaking engagements to inform our clients and business communities of the sweeping changes.  We provided thought leadership on difficult topics to display the talented expertise we have working at MHCS.  We increased our social media presence and launched our company YouTube channel. We continued to be innovative in 2018, implementing new technologies to help improve the client experience and become more efficient in our processes so that we can continue to focus on our clients’ needs. With this increase in shared knowledge with our communities, we have deepened our relationships with our clients and have been able to forge new relationships for years to come.

As we look to 2019 and beyond, we are excited for all the opportunities to continue to make MHCS the firm of choice for our team, clients and communities. We are excited to be launching our new brand, which includes our new website, offering online payment for clients, and opening an online corporate store. We will provide a dynamic, collaborative and inclusive firm that provides clear opportunities for personal growth for our team. We will be implementing new initiatives, that include a Year of Impact and Year of Wellness to compliment the Year of Service efforts. 

Most importantly, we are looking forward to the upcoming tax and audit season to see so many clients and friends of MHCS. We will continue to stay ahead of the new tax laws and educate our clients on the impact to their businesses and personal situations. We will strengthen our partnerships with our clients and our network to allow us to serve as hands-on advisors and connectors, helping our clients solve challenges and capitalize on opportunities. As a firm, we will be innovative, change-ready and forward-looking. Throughout 2019, MHCS will lead the way for our clients, team and communities throughout Iowa.

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Dave Farnsworth, CPA Managing Partner

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