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16 posts from December 2012

Becoming a Better Expert Witness

Expert witnessEarlier this year, the AICPA Forensic and Valuation Services Conference was held in Orlando. In the past, forensic services and valuation services held separate conferences; this year, in recognition of the fact that many CPAs perform a combination of these services, the two events were joined. As many as eight concurrent sessions were available to attendees on topics including basic, advanced and practical forensic and valuation issues; practice management and marketing; and litigation issues. 

As a CPA who performs primarily valuation services for litigation, two issues of particular interest for me were expert testimony and the cost of capital in business valuations. Ron Seigneur moderated a panel of three attorneys in a session titled “What Do Lawyers Really Say About FVS Experts?” This session was a great look into what attorneys are looking for in an expert and how expert testimony can be most effective. 

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4 Articles That Made CPAs Smile in 2012

Young-manI initially chose to write a feel-good year-end reflection because that’s what all the cool, popular bloggers on the internet do. And I want to be cool and popular, too. But as I started going back through all the news from 2012, I quickly realized that it was an extremely eventful year, even by the lofty standards established by previous years (I’m looking at you, 2002!). That said, an on-the-go CPA could surely be forgiven if they were too busy to notice the top* four articles, which gave us a reason to smile during the course of the year.

As noted right here on AICPA Insights in March, a survey from Careerbliss.com found that being an accountant is the eighth happiest job in America. Employees were asked to rate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including one's relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

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How the Clarified Auditing Standards Will Affect You

The Clarified Auditing Standards are now in effect. You may have heard that “these aren’t substantive changes,” but this isn’t the case. Some of the changes included in the new standards will affect every auditor. Based on inquiries we’ve received during recent AICPA webinars on the Clarified Auditing Standards, participants have identified four areas of change that may require more attention.

One substantive change is to the auditor’s report. Headings and specific language for each section are now required within the report. Adding headings and the correct language to an auditor’s report, while affecting every audit, is not difficult to do. The challenge is making sure that it gets done. If a staff person takes last year’s report and changes only the dates, and the firm issues that report without headings and revised wording, then the firm has issued a deficient report. While it may require a little extra work, these headings provide auditors a clear understanding of what additional information is needed and where to place it in a report.

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Immediate 2012 Tax Planning Opportunities for Individuals

Bob Keebler discusses three opportunities individuals can take advantage of while we wait for final resolution on the "fiscal cliff." Bob discusses gain harvesting to avoid the increase in the capital gains, Roth conversions to avoid the increase in income tax rate and the potential to take advantage of the loss of state income tax deductions in the future, and finally funding dynasty trusts before a new federal law could come into effect. Visit aicpa.org/PFP/YearEnd for free resources to help you get financial plans in place for your clients now.

3 Immediate 2012 Tax Planning Opportunities for Individuals

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

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CPA Exam 2013 Q1/Q2 Score Release Timetables

CPA Exam score release timetables have been such a hot topic amongst candidates that we have decided to post regular updates. Updated score release timelines will be announced twice annually on AICPA Insights® and will also be posted on the CPA Exam website. Since we would rather have candidates study for the CPA Exam rather than spend time notching off business days on a calendar, we have contained the score release timeline in a table below for candidates to easily find their score release dates.

In the first half of 2013, scores for the CPA Exam will be released by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to individual state boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates listed in the table below. 

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Confronting Subordination of Judgment Issues Without Compromising Your Ethics

Pensive-womanAs CPAs, we are increasingly called upon to use our professional judgment in facing key auditing, tax and accounting concerns – especially as the profession moves from being rules-based to more principles-based. We gain our ability to apply professional judgment over time, through experience, training and an understanding of what a reasonable person would perceive as the right course of action under certain circumstances. We are informed by our upbringing, by the guidance of our mentors and colleagues, and during interactions with our employers and clients.

At some point during our careers our professional judgment is likely to be tested.

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Charitable Remainder Trust and the 3.8% Medicare Surtax

The 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. How this surtax will affect those who are current beneficiaries of charitable remainder trusts is a hot financial planning topic. Robert Keebler explores planning for this new surtax and the Treasury Department's recently issued regulations addressing section 1411 of the Internal Revenue Code, the 3.8% Medicare surtax in his latest podcast. Download a free Medicare surtax chart and visit aicpa.org/PFP/YearEnd for free resources to help you get financial plans in place for your clients now.  

Charitable Remainder Trust and the 3.8% Medicare Surtax

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.

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AICPA Advocates for CPAs with Mobile Workforce Legislation

Tax formsDo you or your employees travel around the country, working in different states and jurisdictions? As I travel around the United States, I hear more and more management accountants lamenting the difficulties associated with interstate operations and the significant regulatory burden with regard to compliance with non-resident state income tax withholding laws.

Currently, there are 41 states that impose a personal income tax on wages and there are many different tax requirements regarding the withholding of income tax of non-residents among those 41 states. While some states offer de minimis thresholds or exemptions before taxes must be withheld and paid, others require only a work appearance in the state before imposing personal income taxes on the employee and withholding requirements on the employer—even for just one day.

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Twitter Delivers the Full Picture of a CPA Conference

Perhaps I sound like a broken record...

But believe me, if you attend conferences and aren't on Twitter, you are missing out. Case in point: the Digital CPA Conference last week. I got to the hotel in Washington D.C. (ahem...I mean Maryland. Right, Tom Hood?), logged in to my computer and discovered Twitter was already all aflutter with #DigitalCPA activity. If you know me, you know this made me very happy!

Follow a conference hashtag for the inside scoop.

By following and participating on a conference hashtag, you get to see the full picture of what's happening. People are sharing their favorite quotes, new ideas, what they are learning and my favorite... pictures.

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Fair Value: A Hot Topic at the FVS Conference

Fair-valueA recent report published in August 2012 by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board outlines certain deficiencies in audit procedures with respect to a clients’ fair value determinations. The report explains these deficiencies, which included, among others, fair value determinations of investment securities and business combinations. With the increased scrutiny on fair value measurements and the increase in business combinations during 2012, how will audit firms and valuation professionals educate themselves to improve the quality of their work?

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An Interview with AICPA President and CEO on 2013

Barry_Melancon

The following is an interview with AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA. He was asked to share his thoughts about some of the major issues and trends that will affect CPAs in 2013.  

 

In the coming year, we will see the first efforts of the Private Company Council. What changes can CPAs and the companies they serve expect to see?

The Financial Accounting Foundation’s Private Company Council was created to address issues affecting companies that need GAAP-based financial statements. The PCC only recently began meeting, and will be weighing in on existing standards and ones in development. Private company accounting stakeholders are expecting prompt action by the PCC in modifying GAAP to bring more relevance and simplification to financial reporting.

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New College Planning Opportunities for Upper Income Clients

College financial aidFinancing the cost of college is a significant issue for families and for recent graduates saddled with huge student loans. The total amount of outstanding student loans—around $870 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York—is greater than the total level of outstanding credit card or auto loan debt. It is also growing, while the size of other consumer debt is shrinking or remaining the same. However, practitioners may not be aware that, in a surprising new wrinkle, more upper-middle-class families are now turning to student loans to help finance college costs. In fact, the greatest expansion in the percentage of student loan debt was among families with annual incomes between $94,535 and $205,335, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of recent Federal data. A total of 25.6% of them had student loan debt in 2010, up from 19.5% in 2007. The average amount they borrowed jumped to $32,869 from $26,639 in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

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CPAs Outlook on U.S. Economy Drops for Third Straight Quarter

CPAOI 4qDespite the traditional festive mood of the holidays and consumer confidence at a 6-month high, CPAs in business and industry are not impressed.

In fact, CPA financial executives reported their dimmest view of prospects for the U.S. economy since 2011 in the results of the AICPA’s fourth quarter Economic Outlook Survey. Why so sad? The main reasons cited for increased pessimism are the threat of the looming fiscal cliff, combined with concerns over future sales and profitability.

While optimism has declined over the past three quarters, the fourth quarter survey did not include any silver lining as every major measure of economic expectations fell, both quarter over quarter and year over year. 

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CPAs Play a Significant Role in Technology Adoption [INFOGRAPHIC]

According to the Digital CPA Survey, released over the weekend at Digital CPA: 2012 CPA2Biz Cloud User Conference, an overwhelming majority of CPAs say they have a role to play in technology adoption for their clients. Only 17% of CPAs say they play a minimal role or no part in helping clients embrace cloud, mobile and other emerging technologies that can improve business decision-making. Based on the survey results, the following infographic was developed (click on the image to make it bigger). Feel free to share with others.

CPAs-Role-in-Technology

What’s in a Name?

IT Section Renamed to Information Management and Technology Assurance

Names have power. Corporations invest millions of dollars and countless hours of focus group sessions before a major name change. Names provide insight into an entity or company’s background and mission. They also help us infer certain characteristics about an organization or set expectations for how it delivers a particular product, service, or experience.

Consider these famous name changes for a moment. Would Google be as ubiquitous if it had kept BackRub as its name? Would the cola wars rage on if Coke were competing against Brad’s Drink or against its newer moniker, Pepsi? Innovation, mergers or a decision to move in a different direction can lead companies, organizations and other entities to outgrow their names.

Quite simply, a name change allows organizations to better reflect their purpose and what they offer. For this reason, the AICPA renamed the Information Technology Section to the Information Management and Technology Assurance Section.

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Merchant Card Reporting Compliance Raises Its Head Again

Credit card terminalCPAs are well aware of how Form 1099 reporting improves tax return compliance. CPAs are also aware of how the 1099 rules can lead to considerable taxpayer frustration or opposition. For example, during the 2012 filing season, we heard a lot about the difficulties taxpayers had trying to comply with the new cost basis information reporting rules for brokers reporting stock sales; and this particular issue remains a concern of ours. Another major initiative, which until recently seemed like a sleeper issue, is now ripe for taxpayer focus. Merchant card companies are required to report (on Form 1099-K) the gross receipts that a business receives from customers paying with merchant cards during the year. Merchant cards typically include both credit cards and debit cards.

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