Income Tax Tips When Selling Your Home

Income Tax Tips When Selling Your Home

(IRS Tax Tip 2017-13)

Homeowners may qualify to exclude from their income all or part of any gain from the sale of their main home.

Below are tips to keep in mind when selling a home:

Ownership and Use. To claim the exclusion, the homeowner must meet the ownership and use tests. This means that during the five-year period ending on the date of the sale, the homeowner must have:

  • Owned the home for at least two years  
  • Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years    Gain.  If there is a gain from the sale of their main home, the homeowner may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from income or $500,000 on a joint return in most cases. Homeowners who can exclude all of the gain do not need to report the sale on their tax return

Loss.  A main home that sells for lower than purchased is not deductible.

Reporting a Sale.  Reporting the sale of a home on a tax return is required if all or part of the gain is not excludable. A sale must also be reported on a tax return if the taxpayer chooses not to claim the exclusion or receives a Form 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions.

Possible Exceptions.  There are exceptions to the rules above for persons with a disability, certain members of the military, intelligence community and Peace Corps workers, among others. More information is available in Publication 523, Selling Your Home.

Worksheets.  Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the:

  • Adjusted basis of the home sold
  • Gain (or loss) on the sale
  • Gain that can be excluded

Items to Keep In Mind:

  • Taxpayers who own more than one home can only exclude the gain on the sale of their main home. Taxes must paid on the gain from selling any other home.
  • Taxpayers who used the first-time homebuyer credit to purchase their home have special rules that apply to the sale. For more on those rules, see Publication 523. Use the First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-up to get account information such as the total amount of your credit or your repayment amount.
  • Work-related moving expenses might be deductible, see Publication 521, Moving Expenses.
  • Taxpayers moving after the sale of their home should update their address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service by filing Form 8822, Change of Address.
  • Taxpayers who purchased health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace should notify the Marketplace when moving out of the area covered by the current Marketplace plan.

Making the Most out of Miscellaneous Deductions

Making the Most out of Miscellaneous Deductions (IRS Tax Tip 2017-09)

Miscellaneous deductions are tax breaks that generally don’t fit into a particular tax category.  They can help reduce taxable income and the amount of taxes owed.  For example, some employees can deduct certain work expenses like uniforms as miscellaneous deductions.  To do that, they must itemize their deductions instead of taking the standard deduction on their tax return. 

Here are several tips from the IRS about miscellaneous deductions:  

  • The Two Percent Limit.  Most miscellaneous costs are deductible only if the sum exceeds 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI).  For example, before being able to deduct certain expenses, a taxpayer with $50,000 in AGI must come up with more than $1,000 in miscellaneous deductions.  Expenses may include:
    • Unreimbursed employee expenses.
    • Job search costs for a new job in the same line of work.
    • Job tools.
    • Union dues.
    • Work-related travel and transportation.
    • The cost paid to prepare a tax return. These fees include the cost paid for tax preparation software. They also include any fee paid for e-filing a return.
  • Deductions Not Subject to the Limit. Some deductions are not subject to the 2% limit. They include:
    • Certain casualty and theft losses. In most cases, this rule is for damaged or stolen property held for investment. This may include property such as stocks, bonds and works of art.
    • Gambling losses up to the total of gambling winnings.
    • Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.

Taxpayers can’t deduct some expenses. For example, personal living or family expenses are not deductible. To claim allowable miscellaneous deductions, taxpayers must use Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. For more about this topic, see Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. Get them on at any time.

Avoid scams. The IRS will never initiate contact using social media or text message. First contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on to find out.

10 Inspirational Movies to Watch

10 Inspirational Movies to Watch

10 Inspirational Movies to WatchIf you’re one of the 111 million people who watched the New England Patriots power their way out of defeat at the Super Bowl, did you think it was just about over in the third quarter when the Atlanta Falcons were leading 28-3? I admit, I did. Even paid my tab and headed home. We were in for a surprise as the Patriots (led by quarterback Tom Brady) charged ahead and turned the game around to win 34-28.

As a perennial backer of the underdog, I was rooting hard for the Falcons but that doesn’t lessen my respect for a team that resisted falling into a “it’s a lost cause, let’s just get this over with” mentality. Let’s face it, we’ve all been at that point: whether it’s a career challenge, relationship or financial difficulty, or perhaps a health problem, some hurdles seem impossible.


Of course, part of the challenge is knowing what’s truly beyond reach and what isn’t. Becoming a rock singer is out of the question for me unless every rock fan loses their hearing. But many goals are attainable; watching a few of the movies listed below may help reinforce that fact. These films, which include suggestions from AICPA colleagues, depict mental toughness in facing huge hurdles. While Hollywood does embellish, these feel real for the most part and many are based on real people and events.

  1. Erin Brokovich (2000) – Based on the real story of an unemployed mother who gets a job as a legal assistant and takes on “Goliath” (a large utility) in her investigation of groundwater pollution that is harming the townspeople nearby.
  2. Hello, My Name is Doris (2015) – A shy, unassuming 60-something woman gets inspired by a self-help seminar to pursue a crush on a much younger colleague, shaking up her sheltered and routine life in the process.
  3. Hidden Figures (2017) – The inspiring true story of three African-American female mathematicians who, despite the substantial gender and race barriers of the time, played a key role in the United States’ historic launch into space.
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979) – This film traces author Maya Angelou’s life  growing up as a young black girl in the South during the Depression, and how she overcame a traumatic childhood to discover her true worth.
  5. Joy (2015) – The title character of this movie is a divorced mother of two coping with parents and an ex-husband who lean on her heavily. An inventor at heart, Joy creates a self-wringing mop and faces a lot of hurdles on a journey to make her invention a success.
  6. Miracle (2004) – Kurt Russell plays real-life coach Herb Brooks, who took the U.S. men’s hockey team to the 1980 Olympics to challenge the legendary Soviet Union team.
  7. Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – Broke, homeless and responsible for his young son, Chris Gardner refuses to give up on his dream to be a stockbroker (based on the book by the real Chris Gardner).
  8. Rudy (1993) – Being far smaller than any football player doesn’t prevent this determined kid from pursuing his goal of playing for the Notre Dame College football team.
  9. Secretariat (2010) – The first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years, Secretariat became a legend for his speed and size, but it took the persistence of co-owner Penny Chenery to stay in the race.
  10. Vision Quest (1985)High school wrestler Louden Swain has to lose 23 pounds to challenge the state champion whom he is determined to beat. With little support from his coach or father, can he do it, especially when a romantic interest shows up?But what about…?Some of you may be protesting the absence of Rocky, The Blind Side, etc. They are excellent movies – there just wasn’t room for all of them and I wanted to include some that folks may have either forgotten or didn’t know about and, for those who mainly watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, some without a sports theme. Ray, Philadelphia and Lorenzo’s Oil are a few more I would recommend to celebrate the human spirit.

Five Tips on Whether to File a 2016 Tax Return

Five Tips on Whether to File a 2016 Tax Return

(The following is the IRS Tax Tip 2017-02.)

Five Tips on Whether to File a 2016 Tax ReturnMost people file a tax return because they have to. Even if a taxpayer doesn’t have to file, there are times they should. They may be eligible for a tax refund and not know it.

Here are five tips on whether to file a tax return:

  1. General Filing Rules.  In most cases, income, filing status and age determine if a taxpayer must file a tax return. Other rules may apply if the taxpayer is self-employed or a dependent of another person. For example, if a taxpayer is single and under age 65, they must file if their income was at least $10,350. There are other instances when a taxpayer must file. Go to  for more information.
  2. Tax Withheld or Paid.  Did the taxpayer’s employer withhold federal income tax from their pay? Did the taxpayer make estimated tax payments? Did they overpay last year and have it applied to this year’s tax? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, they could be due a refund. They have to file a tax return to get it.
  3. Earned Income Tax Credit.  A taxpayer who worked and earned less than $53,505 last year could receive the EITC as a tax refund. They must qualify and may do so with or without a qualifying child. They may be eligible for up to $6,269. Use the 2016 EITC Assistant tool on to find out. Taxpayers need to file a tax return to claim the EITC.
  4. Additional Child Tax Credit.  Did the taxpayer have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If they do not qualify for the full credit amount, they may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. Beginning in January 2017, by law, the IRS must hold refunds for any tax return claiming either the EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit until Feb. 15. This means the entire refund, not just the part related to either credit.
  5. American Opportunity Tax Credit.  To claim the AOTC, the taxpayer, their spouse or their dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half time for one academic period to qualify. The credit is available for four years of post-secondary education. It can be worth up to $2,500 per eligible student. Even if the taxpayer doesn’t owe any taxes, they may still qualify. Complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file it with the tax return. Learn more by visiting the Education Credits web page.

Instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ list income tax filing requirements. Taxpayers can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on They should look for “Do I need to file a return?” under general topics. The tool is available 24/7 to answer many tax questions.

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Earlier Date for Information Returns Brings IRS Penalty Risk

IRS Penalty RiskTime for Action: We are all now facing a new Jan. 31 deadline for filing Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration and 1099-MISC (when reporting nonemployee compensation payments in box 7) with the IRS. The earlier deadline will allow faster matching of W-2 and 1099 information with tax returns, which helps combat identity and refund theft. Unfortunately, when something is done to combat identity theft, it sometimes means extra work and, with this new rule, increased risk of penalties for not timely filing.  As a result, you need to act quickly.

Filing and Reporting

The previous deadline of Feb. 28 for submitting Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC has been in the law for many years and would have been considered “written in stone” prior to this change.  We have all become accustomed to these deadlines. We will have a steep learning curve in orienting ourselves and staff to conform to this new deadline. (The deadlines for Forms 1120 and 1065 reverse this year as well.)  The assembly of the necessary data can be a significant task.  Assembling the required data will require an increased effort.

Bottom Line:  You need to shift into overdrive now!


The new filing deadlines could put us at greater risk for penalties, particularly as the penalty regime has grown quite strict. Since 2009, information return penalties have increased.  The amount of the penalty depends on the date the information return is filed.  The longer it takes to file the return, the greater the penalty.  In addition, these penalties are indexed for inflation.

Everyone engaged in the process of preparing information returns should become familiar with Code sections 6721 and 6722 and the applicable regulations listing the returns covered and applicable penalties for not timely filing information returns. It appears the IRS covered all the information returns and there is no way to avoid the imposition of a penalty for filing an information return late.

Terms and code sections you need to become familiar with are:

  • Code section 6041(a) covering the rule for payments of $600 or more
  • Reduction when corrected in a specified period (Code section 6721(b))
  • Exceptions for de minimis failures (Code sections 6721(c) and 6722(c))
  • Safe harbors for de minimis errors (Code sections 6721(c)(3) and 6722(c)(3))
  • Lower limitations for persons with gross receipts of not more than $5,000,000 (Code sections 6721(d) and 6722(d))
  • A new term, “intentional disregard,” has been added, resulting in larger penalty amounts for failure to timely file the information return.

Practitioners from all areas of the country have indicated that the IRS is actively assessing these penalties, is not bashful about including the intentional disregard penalty and is hesitant in granting penalty abatement for either first-time violations or determining reasonable cause if these penalties are imposed. (

On the bright side, IRS has just issued Notice 2017-9 for the safe harbor, which means taxpayers do not have to correct an error on an information return or payee statement (or face a penalty) if the dollar amount reported differs from the correct amount by $100 or less ($25 for withholdings). The safe harbor and related penalty relief do not apply if the payee opts out and requests a corrected return.


The compliance tasks you are facing in preparing and filing these returns are greater because of the shorter time window, and the penalty exposure is more severe, so it cannot be stressed enough you’re your team needs to be educated quickly and warned of the consequences of delay.

As CPAs, we understand your frustrations in bearing the burden of anything requiring extra time because so many criminals are out there. But we have to believe the extra protection will be worth it in the end.

How the Health Care Law Affects You

Chart Explains How the Health Care Law Affects You

As you prepare to file your 2016 tax return, review this chart to see how the health care law affects you.


Are a U.S. citizen or a non-U.S. citizen living in the United States


Must have qualifying health care coverage, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make a payment when you file your income tax return.


Had coverage or an employer offered coverage to you in the previous year


Will receive one or more of the following forms;

  • Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement
  • Form 1095-B, Health Coverage
  • Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage  

This information will help you complete your tax return.

Had health coverage through an employer or under a government program – such as Medicare, Medicaid and coverage for veterans – for the entire year Just have to check the full-year coverage box on your Form 1040 series return and do not have to read any further.
Did not have coverage for any month of the year Should check the instructions to Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, to see if you are eligible for an exemption.
Were eligible for an exemption from coverage for a month Must claim the exemption or report an exemption already obtained from the Marketplace by completing Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, and submitting it with your tax return.
Did not have coverage and were not eligible for an exemption from coverage for any month of the year Are responsible for making an individual shared responsibility payment when you file your return.
Are responsible for making an individual shared responsibility payment Will report it on your tax return and make the payment with your income taxes.
Need qualifying health care coverage for the current year Can visit to find out about the dates of open and special enrollment periods for purchasing qualified health coverage.
Enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace for yourself or someone else on your tax return. Might be eligible for the premium tax credit.


Received the benefit of more advance payments of the premium tax credit than the amount of credit for which you qualify on your tax return Will repay the amount in excess of the credit you are allowed subject to a repayment cap.
Did not enroll in health insurance from the Marketplace for yourself or anyone else on your tax return Cannot claim the premium tax credit.


Are eligible for the premium tax credit Can choose when you enroll in coverage to get premium assistance sent to your insurer each month to lower your monthly payments or get all the benefit of the credit when you claim it on your tax return.
Are claiming the premium tax credit and did not benefit from advance payments of the premium tax credit Must file a tax return and IRS Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC) and claim the credit on the line labeled – Net premium tax credit.
Choose to get premium assistance when you enroll in Marketplace coverage Will have payments sent on your behalf – to your insurance provider. These payments are called advance payments of the premium tax credit.
Get the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit and experience a significant life change, such as a change in income or marital status Should report these changes in circumstances to your Marketplace when they happen.
Get the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit Will report the payments on your tax return and reconcile the amount of the payments with the amount of credit for which you are eligible.


Quick Notes on Education Expenses

Education Expenses Salt Lake City

Quick Notes on Education Expenses Salt Lake City

As the new school year approaches here are some things to remember regarding certain deductible and non deductible education expenses:

  1. The cost of private or parochial school tuition is not deductible. However for those children under age 13, some of the costs could be attributable to childcare and may qualify the taxpayer for a tax credit.
  2. Charitable contributions for school fundraisers are limited by the fair market value of any goods or services you receive in exchange for your donation.
  3. Earnings in 529 Plans are not taxable and can be withdrawn tax free if the money is used for eligible college expenses.
  4. Tax deferred accounts like Educational Savings Accounts can be used to pay for qualified educational expenses including books and computers for elementary, high school and for college expenses.
  5. Student loan interest is deductible as an above the line deduction, meaning you do not have to itemize in order to claim the deduction. You can deduct up to $2,500 of interest. The deduction is gradually reduced if your modified gross income is with a certain range.
  6. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a very robust credit wherein you can get up to a $2,500 credit against your taxes per eligible student each year for the first four years of their college education. $1,000 of this credit can be refundable even if you owe no tax. Eligible expenses include tuition, books and supplies. Adjusted gross income limits also apply to this credit.
  7. A lifetime learning credit is also available for qualified education expenses paid for students enrolled in eligible educational institutions. The credit is a non refundable credit of 20% of qualified education expenses up to a maximum of $10,000 ($2,000 credit). This credit can not be taken in conjunction with the American Opportunity Tax Credit. There is no limit on the number of years this credit can be taken. Adjusted gross income limits apply.

Just some things to keep in mind as you eye the rising costs of education for your children.

New Qualified Improvement Property Classification

Property Taxes Salt Lake City UT

Property Taxes Salt Lake City UTOn Dec. 18, 2015, Congress passed a tax extenders package, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 and in that Act gave a new definition to non residential real property improvements falling in the category named Qualified Improvement Property. The definition of this property is as follows:

Qualified improvement property is any improvement to an interior portion of a building that is nonresidential real property if the improvement is placed in service after the date the building was first placed in service, excluding:

  1. ) enlargements;
  2. ) elevators/escalators; and
  3. ) internal structural framework. The improvements do not need to be made pursuant to a lease.

Qualified improvement property is depreciated over 39 years unless it also qualifies as qualified leasehold, restaurant or retail property. If falls into one of these classifications the improvements can be depreciated over 15 years. The real kicker in this is that all of these improvements are eligible for bonus depreciation.

Bonus depreciation for property placed in service thru December 31, 2017 is 50% of the cost.

In 2018 it is 40% and 2019 it is 30%. This is quite the expansion of the deduction for these types of costs and could provide significant tax savings in the year the improvements are completed. For a more in-depth explanation of qualified improvement property and a refresher on the definition of leasehold, restaurant or retail improvements, Give Us a Call and we would be happy to discuss it with you.

Areas of Service: Property Taxes Salt Lake City UT, Property Tax UT

Tax Strategies for Selling Business

Tax and Financial News

Tax Strategies For Selling Business Salt Lake City – A Family Affair?

Selling Business Salt Lake CityWhen it comes to selling your business Salt Lake City, finding an optimal tax strategy depends on the purchaser. Transferring a business inside a family requires very different tactics and treatment compared to a sale to an independent third party. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy; the best tax treatment is always determined by the unique circumstances of the situation Selling Business Salt Lake City.

The best tax strategy for an interfamily transfer largely depends on whether the owner has sufficient outside resources or if they are counting on the sale to fund their retirement or next venture.

In cases where the owner has sufficient resources, one option is to directly gift shares or interests in the business to family members. Gifting can trigger gift tax consequence but not income tax consequences, and the recipient assumes your cost basis in the transferred asset. Let’s look at a few scenarios to see how this could work out.

In the first example, assume that at the time of the owner’s retirement, the value of the company is $10 million. If you gift the company to family members at that time (assuming gift-splitting from a married couple), the $10 million value is assessed against your lifetime gift/estate tax unified credit), the current total unified credit in this situation is slightly less than $11 million. As a result, gifting in this scenario would not result in any tax owed and leave you with just under $1 million of unified credits to apply to other assets.

In a second scenario, assume the owner holds on to the company until death and then transfers it via their estate to family members. Also assume that the company has grown since it was worth $10 million and that at the owner’s death is now worth $40 million. In this scenario, there is now a substantial estate tax issue. So we can see that generally, if the value of a business is expected to increase substantially over time, it pays to transfer to subsequent generations sooner rather than later.

Next, let’s look at options under the opposite situation – where the owner needs to take out proceeds from the sale or transfer of the company to live on.

The first option here is that the owner could retain actual ownership and only transition management to the following generation. This allows the owner to keep an income stream from the business. The problem here is that eventually the family will end up in the same situation as discussed above, where waiting and passing the entity through the owner’s estate will result in substantial estate tax liabilities. So the question remains then, if the owner is dependent on the company for income, what can be done to avoid estate taxes upon transfer?

The second option is that the owner sells the company to the next generation. In this case assume the children do not have the cash to buy the business outright, so the owner issues a note to enable the purchase at the time that the business was worth $10 million. Here, issuing the promissory note would essentially freeze the transfer value at $10 million. The purchasing children would then pay deductible interest on the promissory note to the parents out of income from the acquired company. At the time of the issuer’s death, the children’s own promissory note would pass to back to themselves. The issue here is that upon the sale of the company, the parent would realize a capital gain and incur an income tax liability. Overall, it is likely (but not certain, dependent on the exact situation) that the capital gains tax on an early sale is likely to be far less than the estate tax incurred on a transfer at death after significant appreciation.

As you can see, there are many variables and options at play in transferring a company to the next generation, so it is best to plan ahead with the help of qualified professionals.

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Areas of Services: Selling Business Salt Lake City, Selling Your Business, CPA Firm Sandy UT, CPA Sandy UT, Accountant Sandy UT, Taxes Sandy UT

Estate Planning Sandy UT

Estate Planning Sandy UT

Same-Sex Marriage Can Be Taxing

Estate Planning Sandy UTIn the case Windsor vs. U.S., the Supreme Court struck down the main provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage for federal purposes as between a man and women. Generally, the Windsor case was not viewed as a tax case; however, there are profound and far-reaching tax consequences of this ruling. Estate Planning Sandy UT. The Supreme Court’s decision now requires the federal government to treat same-sex couples the same as married heterosexual couples if they are legally married in one of the states that permits same-sex marriage. Many questions still remain unanswered, such as how to resolve conflicts between state laws and to what extent these changes will be applied retroactively. There are a number of clear and present issues that impact tax law right now.

There are three main tax effects that result from this ruling. First, there is the right to file a joint tax return. Filing a joint tax return might result in a lower total tax liability for the couple. Typically, this is advantageous when one spouse is a higher wage earner than the other; however, it can actually create higher taxes if both spouses earn similar amounts and are highly paid. Depending on an analysis of the situation, it could be advisable to file amended tax returns or protective refund claims. Favorable situations could be where the couple would have lower taxes as result of filing jointly or where one spouse had capital gains that would have been cancelled out by the capital losses of the other spouse. The general statute of limitations for refunds is the latter of three years from the date of filing or two years from payment.

While the Windsor case itself applied retroactively in granting an estate tax refund, it is currently uncertain how the IRS will apply the decision to individual tax returns; retroactively to all cases where the statute of limitations has not run, only prospectively or only where protective refund claims have been filed.

Second, employers need to make the necessary administrative tax changes and adapt for the new benefits that married same-sex couples now qualify for. Employees’ withholdings might need to be updated to reflect their new filing status. Health coverage provided to same-sex spouses could now be tax-free. Additionally, pension and other retirement plans might also require tax-related administrative changes.

Third, ESTATE PLANNING Sandy UT is subject to major changes as a result of this ruling. Married couples receive favorable treatment on many estate and gift tax provisions. Same-sex couples should update their plans to take advantage of these changes:

  • The ability for the estate of the first spouse to die to transfer any unused exclusion amount to the surviving spouse.
  • The opportunity to receive a marital deduction for amounts transferred to the surviving spouse.
  • The ability to make split gifts.
  • The opportunity for either spouse to use the marital deduction to transfer unlimited assets to the other spouse during their life gift-tax free.

While these three issues reflect the major changes of the DOMA ruling, many other more minor tax changes result as well such as the deductibility of alimony.

There are two major caveats to the Windsor ruling. First, there are currently no decisive regulations or laws for same-sex couples who were legally joined together under marriage-equivalents such as domestic partnerships or civil unions. In cases where these situations apply, it might be worth filing protective refund claims in hopes that this issue is resolved in favor of marriage-equivalent relationships. Second, it is unclear how the changes in the law will apply where a same-sex couple work and live in states where one recognizes their marriage and the other does not.

If you think these changes could a have significant impact on your tax situation, give us a call to discuss how we can help analyze your personal situation.

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Areas of Service:  Estate Planning Sandy UT, Wealth Management Sandy UT, Wills Sandy UT.