Forensic Accounting

A special talent for information discovery and interpretation.

​We analyze information, provide clear explanations and explain the financial implications surrounding what we find. We assist attorneys and the court in a wide range of cases and investigations. Our role can involve fact finding, discovery, settlement negotiations, trial support and expert witness testimony. Our team combines our training as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Accredited Business Valuators (ABV), Accredited Senior Appraisers (ASA), Certified Valuation Analysts (CVA), Certified Financial Forensics (CFF), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Every day experience and a tenacious spirit.

Our services include:

  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Business valuations
  • Bankruptcy & insolvency
  • Economic damage claims
  • Financial investigations
  • Insurance investigations
  • Litigation consulting & expert testimony
  • Divorce

Forensic Accounting Team

William V. Mason, ASA, CPA/ABV, CFF

William V. Mason, ASA, CPA/ABV, CFF

Managing Senior Financial Analyst


Recent News

3 Midyear Tax Planning Strategies for Business

3 Midyear Tax Planning Strategies for Business

Tax reform has been a major topic of discussion in Washington, but it’s still unclear exactly what such legislation will include and whether it will be signed into law this year. However, the last major tax legislation that was signed into law — back in December of 2015 — still has a significant impact on tax planning for businesses. Let’s look at three midyear tax strategies inspired by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act:

1. Buy equipment. The PATH Act preserved both the generous limits for the Section 179 expensing election and the availability of bonus depreciation. These breaks generally apply to qualified fixed assets, including equipment or machinery, placed in service during the year. For 2017, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction is $510,000, subject to a $2,030,000 phaseout threshold. Without the PATH Act, the 2017 limits would have been $25,000 and $200,000, respectively. Higher limits are now permanent and subject to inflation indexing.
Additionally, for 2017, your business may be able to claim 50% bonus depreciation for qualified costs in excess of what you expense under Sec. 179. Bonus depreciation is scheduled to be reduced to 40% in 2018 and 30% in 2019 before it’s set to expire on December 31, 2019.

2. Ramp up research. After years of uncertainty, the PATH Act made the research credit permanent. For qualified research expenses, the credit is generally equal to 20% of expenses over a base amount that’s essentially determined using a historical average of research expenses as a percentage of revenues. There’s also an alternative computation for companies that haven’t increased their research expenses substantially over their historical base amounts.
In addition, a small business with $50 million or less in gross receipts may claim the credit against its alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability. And, a start-up company with less than $5 million in gross receipts may claim the credit against up to $250,000 in employer Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes.

3. Hire workers from “target groups.” Your business may claim the Work Opportunity credit for hiring a worker from one of several “target groups,” such as food stamp recipients and certain veterans. The PATH Act extended the credit through 2019. It also added a new target group: long-term unemployment recipients.
Generally, the maximum Work Opportunity credit is $2,400 per worker. But it’s higher for workers from certain target groups, such as disabled veterans.
One last thing to keep in mind is that, in terms of tax breaks, “permanent” only means that there’s no scheduled expiration date. Congress could still pass legislation that changes or eliminates “permanent” breaks. But it’s unlikely any of the breaks discussed here would be eliminated or reduced for 2017. To keep up to date on tax law changes and get a jump start on your 2017 tax planning, contact us.

© 2017

Own a Vacation Home? Adjusting Rental vs. Personal Use Might Save Taxes

Own a Vacation Home? Adjusting Rental vs. Personal Use Might Save Taxes

Now that we’ve hit midsummer, if you own a vacation home that you both rent out and use personally, it’s a good time to review the potential tax consequences:

If you rent it out for less than 15 days: You don’t have to report the income. But expenses associated with the rental (such as advertising and cleaning) won’t be deductible.

If you rent it out for 15 days or more: You must report the income. But what expenses you can deduct depends on how the home is classified for tax purposes, based on the amount of personal vs. rental use:

Rental property. If you (or your immediate family) use the home for 14 days or less, or under 10% of the days you rent out the property, whichever is greater, the IRS will classify the home as a rental property. You can deduct rental expenses, including losses, subject to the real estate activity rules. You can’t deduct any interest that’s attributable to your personal use of the home, but you can take the personal portion of property tax as an itemized deduction.

Nonrental property. If you (or your immediate family) use the home for more than 14 days or 10% of the days you rent out the property, whichever is greater, the IRS will classify the home as a personal residence, but you will still have to report the rental income. You can deduct rental expenses only to the extent of your rental income. Any excess can be carried forward to offset rental income in future years. You also can take an itemized deduction for the personal portion of both mortgage interest and property tax.

Look at the use of your vacation home year-to-date to project how it will be classified for tax purposes. Adjusting the number of days you rent it out and/or use it personally between now and year end might allow the home to be classified in a more beneficial way.

For assistance, please contact us. We’d be pleased to help.

© 2017

Business Valuation Part 1: Levels of Value

Business Valuation Part 1: Levels of Value


This is Part 1 of a four part series that will serve as a valuation primer. The purpose of Part 1 is to give an overview of common terms and methods used to value an equity interest in a company.

The issue we are trying to resolve when valuing a business is the price that two independent parties would pay for or be willing to receive for the interest they hold. The value of a business interest depends on the future benefits that will accrue to it.  The financial benefits from ownership must come from one of the following sources: distribution of earnings, from the sale of the interest, or distribution from the liquidation of assets.  In determining the value of a business interest, one should focus on the benefits the shareholder(s)/member(s) may receive from long-term ownership in the securities. In appraisal terminology, these three sources of return correspond to the income, market, and adjusted net asset value approaches, respectively.

When using each of the three approaches, the valuation analyst must also keep in mind the size of the interest being valued and the underlying financial information used to determine the value. This series of four valuation primers will cover the levels of valuation and the approaches to value.

Minority Interests and Controlling Interests

The value of a shareholder’s interest in the stock of a company is influenced by the shareholder’s access to and ability to distribute cash. In general, an ownership interest greater than 50% is considered a controlling interest and an ownership interest less than 50% is considered a minority interest.  The type of interest being appraised (control or minority) will influence the underlying choice fundamentals on which the valuation is based and the approaches used in the valuation.

If the assignment is to value a minority interest, the underlying financial information used should reflect those to which a minority interest holder generally has access. On the other hand, when valuing a controlling interest, the financial information used should reflect those to which a controlling interest holder has access. , or those available only to a controlling interest holder.  For example, if we are valuing a minority interest in a company that holds assets worth $1 million, the minority interest holder most likely cannot force the company to sell those assets or distribute those assets. A controlling interest holder can adjust financial structure, control dividends/distributions with regards to timing and amount, alter operating efficiencies, set compensation amounts, hire and fire employees, etc.  A minority interest holder has no ability to control any of these issues, and they have influence on these issues only at the discretion of the controlling interest holder(s).

A minority interest fair market valuation based on a control basis will need to be adjusted for the loss of value represented by the lack of control associated with a minority interest holder.  This adjustment in value is called the minority interest discount or the discount for lack of control.  It is applied only to arrive at a minority interest fair market value when the base value was derived from controlling interest assumptions and analyses.

Equity, Invested Capital and Enterprise Value

The level of control in a company will also impact the methodology we use to determine the value of an interest. If we are valuing a minority interest, we may choose methodologies that directly value the equity that is the subject of the valuation. But, if we are valuing a controlling interest, we may use calculations that produce the value of the company as a whole. Ultimately, we are looking to arrive at an equity value and there are typically three ways to do so.

The first way to determine the equity value is to use approaches and methods that produce an equity value directly. These approaches and methods are discussed in Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.

Another way to determine the equity value is to value what is referred to as total invested capital (TIC). Total invested capital is also sometimes referred to as market value of invested capital (MVIC). TIC or MVIC is defined as equity plus debt. Therefore, to determine the equity value from an invested capital value, we simply subtract debt. This method is typically used when we are valuing a company with debt.

Finally, a third method to calculate the equity value is to determine total enterprise value (TEV). Total enterprise value is defined as equity plus debt, minus cash. Therefore, to determine the equity value from a total enterprise value, we subtract debt from the total enterprise value and add cash. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the valuation, total enterprise value is sometimes modified to include net working capital (current assets less current liabilities) instead of cash.


The interest being valued will determine the overall methodology selected by the valuation analyst. Whether the interest has control or is a minority interest will impact the initial choices made by the valuation analyst and is the foundation of the rest of the analysis. In Part 2, we will discuss the Asset Approach, one of the three approaches to determine the value of an equity interest.

Business Appraiser Jason Bolt  leads the Business Valuation Team at Jones & Roth. He is an active writer and speaker on specialized business valuation topics.