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12 posts from April 2012

Maximo Mukelabai’s Legacy Paves Way for Future Leaders

Last summer, the CPA profession lost a young champion, a dedicated volunteer and a tenacious leader—Maximo Mukelabai. Only 36, Maximo passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind two young daughters and a loving wife. Maximo was passionate about being a CPA. In fact, his enthusiasm for and devotion to his work, led him to become the youngest professional and first African-American to chair the NCACPA’s board of directors.

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4 Tips to Stay in the Loop on your Finances

The loopI recently read a blog post that talked about ‘the loop,’ which is essentially the browsing cycle we go through on the internet. This caused me to reflect upon my own habits on the web when I’m home relaxing in front of the computer. I found out that I have a regular routine of scanning the news, checking for any new sports information, seeing what my friends had for breakfast on social media and ensuring any emails are responded to promptly. I do this two or three times on an average night and as many as a dozen times on the weekends (please don’t judge me).

However, I’ve recently made it a point to expand the loop at least once daily to include checking my bank account and recent credit card spending, as well as my 401(k) and investment portfolio. Because as Jordan Amin, CPA, chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission puts it, “the first rule of personal finance is be informed.”

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You Made It Through Another Tax Season: Now What?

Tropical island getaway vacationBusy season is over; you made it! And while you may still have to file returns for those clients who needed extensions, you can at least stop sleeping in your office. So now what? Will you take a vacation? Catch up with those clients you had to put on hold? We asked CPA Letter Daily readers those same questions and here is what they had to say:

  • 38.90% - Catch up on non-tax clients/services
  • 23.01% - Sleep/relax
  • 19.36% - Take a vacation
  • 7.85% - Remind clients of year-round services and pursue new clients
  • 6.76% - Attend a conference/catch up on CPE
  • 4.11% - File amended returns

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Technology Risks and Rewards: A Balancing Act

Smartphone or data riskThe AICPA has long recognized the impact that technology has on the accounting profession. In fact, for over two decades, we’ve been reaching out to members and key stakeholders to better understand how it can be effectively harnessed through our Top Technology Initiatives Survey.

Back in the early 1990s when the survey debuted, the technologies we take for granted today would have been impossible to fathom. In an era when only early adopters had digital answering machines, the idea of a personal computer, which could obtain almost any piece of information in the world was beyond most people’s comprehension. Now, we carry these devices around in our pockets, take pictures with them and call them phones.

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What is the Right Penalty to Combat Preparer Fraud?

Tax penaltyThe day after she gets her W-2s, my aunt arrives at my doorstep with her tax documents and an apology (I’ll explain that part later). It all started years ago when she got a notice saying she owed the Internal Revenue Service money. When my aunt signed her return, she was due a refund, so she couldn’t understand how the IRS was now saying that she could possibly owe anything at all.

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CPAs as Market Leaders for Reporting on Service Organization Controls

Service organization control mark

I want to make you aware of a great marketplace-driven opportunity for the CPA profession. Similar to what is being done in the tax and integrated reporting areas, the AICPA is initiating a comprehensive campaign to support CPAs as the premier choice for reporting on a service organization’s controls and to mark our guidance as the gold standard for such services.

Many of you likely are aware that Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70, Service Organizations, has been transformed to meet the needs of the evolving service organization marketplace. SAS 70’s guidance for service auditors reporting on controls at a service organization relevant to internal control over financial reporting of the service organization’s customers was moved to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization. Reporting on controls related to subject matter other than internal control over financial reporting (such as the security, availability or processing integrity of a system, or the confidentiality or privacy of the information processed by that system) became a new attestation engagement.

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Are Your Employees Financially Fit?

Financial literacyAs in past years and with previous presidents, President Obama proclaimed this April as National Financial Capability Month.  Financial capability, referred more frequently to financial literacy, means possessing the financial skills and knowledge required to confidently make smart decisions on a variety of financial matters.  One can fairly assume that CPAs possess these necessary skills, but what about your non-CPA colleagues and co-workers?  This month, the findings of several annual surveys are released which highlight the current state of American’s finances, and based on some of this year’s results the financial capability of the average American worker is unfortunately low. 

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5 Valuable CGMA Resources for Business People

Chartered global management accountant

The AICPA and CIMA continue to make available valuable management accounting reports and tools available for CPA, CGMAs and those considering the CGMA. Check out the following to help you develop new skills and bring best practices to your organization.

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In the News: Tax Tips for Procrastinators

IRS tax Form 1040I’m a procrastinator by nature. I can’t help it. I wait until the last possible second to do things - even important things that I know I need to do, like file my taxes. Many of you reading this may be in the same boat as me, staring at the calendar and wondering how it’s possible you still haven’t gotten around to filing yet.

I hear you, and I also hear the clock ticking as it counts down to the April 17 deadline.

As luck would have it the AICPA has helpfully compiled the 10 Top Last Minute Tax Tips to help get us through the process as painlessly as possible. In fact, one of the most helpful last minute tax tips for me was the news that I can have my CPA e-file for me. So this year, even though I waited until the last minute I won’t have to sprint up the steps of the Post Office just to make the deadline, as I have in years past.

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The Future of Broker-Dealer Audits

Financial_reportingThe AICPA has a long history of advocacy on behalf of the public interest, including investors and the markets. Our advocacy regarding the regulation of the auditors of broker-dealers is a good case in point.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was given the authority to conduct inspections of auditors of broker-dealers.  The AICPA has strongly supported inspection of auditors of broker-dealers that clear, carry and have custody of client funds, given the serious consequences for investors and markets when fraud occurs at these entities. The Institute does not believe, however, that PCAOB registration and inspection should apply to the auditors of introducing or non-carrying broker-dealers, who have no or very limited access to client funds and, as a result, do not pose the kind of risk to investors or the markets that would warrant PCAOB oversight.

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Creating a Professional Development Plan

Do you have a current professional development plan in place or are you typically rushing to earn CPE credits before your license renewal deadline?

The best way to ensure you are making the most of continuing education is through professional development planning, an often-overlooked and under-practiced activity. As a professional, consider integrating a professional development plan into all stages of your career planning. As CPAs, once we earn our license, we commit to lifelong learning. Many of us have the first few years of our professional development courses mapped out for us, but ultimately each of us are responsible for determining what we need to learn and for managing our own CPE activity. We must take part in webinars, conferences, or course work to meet these mandatory CPE requirements. However, beyond the requisite credit hours, what we focus on and learn is entirely up to us.

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5 Ways to Lose Money on Your Engagements

As CPAs we are experts in determining profitability and well aware of the components that go into it.  We do a great job coaching clients in the manufacturing or construction business on the factors they need to manage in order to improve or maintain margin on a product or construction job. Yet despite our coaching, many great clients continue to experience eroding margins year to year. Their attention to what it takes to manage profitability seems to fade away. For us who are CPA firm business owners, we are no different. Owning a business, including a CPA firm, is full of distractions, time demands, fires to extinguish, dates and people to manage, new compliance demands and complexities, etc. Like our clients, we know what we should be doing, but the pressures of the busy season somehow cause us to take our eye off the ball.

Here is my list of the top five ways to erode the profitability of CPA firm engagements.

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