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Name that Angst

Fiscal cliff name badgeAfter a nice holiday break relaxing with friends and family, it’s now time to get back to the real world. Re-entry is always a drag, but coming back this year to the crescendo of anxiety surrounding the fiscal cliff made it that much more difficult.

I’ve spent the last two days meeting some of our AICPA course instructors and asking them about their practices and their clients, and one message came through loud and clear. Clients are concerned. And they’re turning to their CPAs for guidance.

We live in a complex and uncertain world. So many small businesses were battered by the great recession and the difficulties of that experience are still fresh. Optimism about the future is tempered by the pain of the recent past.

To that mix we now add legislative change and the prospect of more to come. I got so tired of hearing about the “fiscal cliff” I couldn’t wait for it to be over. In fact, I think we need to give it a new name—but more on that in a bit. The President has signed new legislation that takes some tax uncertainty off the table, but many unanswered questions remain.

The tumult over the fiscal cliff deadline was just a prelude to more fireworks to come in the next few months. Once again, Congress may pass legislation to raise taxes and/or cut spending at historically high levels. A failure to do so will result in massive across-the-board spending cuts that will affect everything from the Department of Defense to the National Endowment for the Arts.

And we haven’t even touched on health care. Next January, the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act become effective and there is still uncertainty about how all parts of it will be implemented. In anticipation of those changes, small business owners are struggling right now to make critical decisions that will have a major impact on their bottom line and their ability to compete.

It’s no wonder your clients are feeling jittery.

At the AICPA, we’re committed to helping you make sense of these jitters that may be the new normal in these increasingly complex and ever-changing times. I want to help you succeed, and in return, I’ve got a favor to ask of you.

“Fiscal cliff” is so 2012. We need a better catch-phrase.

Use the comment section below to tell me about the jitters you’re feeling at your business or from your clients. Give me a catchy phrase. I’ll run your idea by our Communications team, and if we use it, we’ll find a way to make sure you get the credit.

It’s a challenging time, perhaps the most difficult business environment of my career.  The good news is that your clients need you now more than ever. Together, let’s help them thrive in spite of their jitters.

Michael Ramos, Director of CPE and Training, American Institute of CPAs. Mike sets the strategic direction and manages operations of the professional development business unit at the AICPA. He combines his understanding of technical audit and accounting issues with his communication skills and experience to advance AICPA CPE offerings. He is the author of many books and training courses on SOX 404, internal control and other auditing matters.

Fiscal cliff image via Shutterstock

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