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18 posts from June 2013

In the News: Tax Breaks on Home Sales

Home-saleJust yesterday, The National Association of Realtors announced that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 6.7 percent to 112.3, the highest level since December 2006.

With many people considering placing their home on the market, a timely Wall Street Journal article examined the taxes and tax breaks available when selling a home. According to Melissa Labant, director of taxation at the AICPA, these rules can be complicated and people often misunderstand or don’t take full advantage of the benefits available.

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Paving the Way to Career Happiness and Success

Painting-roadwayFor many years, I had what I now call an "accidental career."  I didn't put much thought into why I was moving up the ladder, I just climbed because that's what I was supposed to do.  It’s no surprise that I soon found myself unchallenged and feeling like I wasn't making a difference.

When I stopped to evaluate, I realized that the power was mine to make a change. It was time to find out what would happen if I put my whole heart and soul into something. So I quit my job and started a business. I spent my life savings trying to figure it out. Ultimately I learned more about business, life and myself than I ever could have on the safe road.

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4 Ways to Attract New Clients

New-clientWhat’s one thing that CPA firm owners can agree on? While the top issues affecting CPA firms vary based on size, bringing in new clients is a common concern for all. That’s one of the many things we learned from the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues survey, which asked CPAs what’s keeping them up at night. The biennial survey, conducted by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section, reveals the chief concerns of CPA firms like yours.  

We released the results of the Top Issues survey at the AICPA’s Practitioners Symposium TECH+ and AAM Summit on June 11 in Las Vegas. The survey responses are categorized by practice size, with top five concerns lists for sole practitioners and for CPA firms with 2 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 20 and 21 or more professionals. The findings offer unique insights into the critical challenges facing practitioners across the country, and enable the AICPA to understand and analyze the trends and challenges, and thus provide appropriate solutions and resources to our members.

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CPAs Bring Expertise, Bipartisanship to Congress

Businesses and individuals trust CPAs for their objectivity, integrity and independence. Those characteristics are what the public also values in elected officials, so we are fortunate that a growing number of CPAs are involved in state, local and federal government.

This year, two more CPAs were elected to Congress: Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL.). That makes a total of 10 CPAs in Congress, plus an additional two accountants in the Senate.

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Health Care Considerations for Employee Benefit Plans

Health-careThe debate continues about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact health care costs in the overall economy. While CFOs may not be interested in the macroeconomics of it all, they will want to keep their own company’s health insurance costs down. It will not be easy. 

Signed into law in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will profoundly affect individuals, employers, health care providers and insurance companies.  In addition to the many new tax rules to offset the cost of these reforms, the law also contains many changes that employers are going to need to consider and how it may affect employee benefit plan operations, internal controls, financial reporting and more.

Here are a few things that may have a larger impact on plans:

Continue reading "Health Care Considerations for Employee Benefit Plans" »

Global Governments Waging War on Corporate Tax Avoidance

Tim-cook-apple-testifyingWhile reading through the Sunday New York Times, I stumbled across an opinion piece on corporate tax avoidance that I think is particularly relevant for business and industry CPAs. In today’s struggling economy, the corporate tax system is a hot button issue both in Washington and around the world. As companies become more global, we as CPAs in industry can continue to add value in this area.

The article, “Who Will Crack the Code?” by David Leonhardt, starts out by talking about the shift in the soda industry from domestic to foreign concentrate production—just one example of a thread that runs through many different industries. Leonhardt notes, “as a result [of moving manufacturing operations overseas], the industry paid a combined corporate income tax rate of only 19.2 percent over the past six years…the average rate for companies in the S&P 500 was 29.1 percent.”

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3 Ways the New COSO Framework May Affect Your Business

Over the past 20 years, change seems to come at the speed of light and has had a significant impact on the way businesses operate. Markets have become global, just about every process can now be outsourced and technology has become integrated into the DNA of every business. If anything, changes in rules, regulations and standards have accelerated. Businesses must now satisfy the high expectations of regulators and other stakeholders regarding governance oversight, risk management and the detection and prevention of fraud. All of this change means that stronger internal control practices must be developed to help to grow, as well as protect, the organization.

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Time is Running Out: Verify Your Clients’ FBAR Obligations Now

HourglassJune 30 will be here very soon – making sure your clients are compliant with the requirement to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts by that date is critical as civil penalties for failure to file are huge – they range from $10,000 up to $100,000 or 50% of the total foreign account balance. Criminal penalties include $250,000 or five years of imprisonment or both.   

If your client is a U.S. resident and has a total of $10,000 or more in all foreign bank accounts combined or has signature authority over a foreign account, he or she must file FBAR Form TD F 90-22.1 annually.  The FBAR is a report and is not to be filed with the income tax return.  What makes the FBAR different from many other forms is that it must be received, not postmarked, by June 30 and it is filed with the U.S. Department of Treasury, not the IRS.  Also, there are no extensions. 

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How Specialization Can Improve Your Service Offerings

In our last live blog session from the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit, Jerry Love, CPA, CGMA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CITP of Abilene, Texas, offers insight as to how CPAs can specialize and improve their bottom line. Specializing will:

  • Deepen existing client relationships – with each additional value-added service that you offer a client, they rely on you more heavily as their trusted advisor.
  • Increase the firm’s bottom line with additional revenue streams.
  • Retain staff – specialized services provide staff exposure to a wider array of assignments and fulfilling career paths.

(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

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What is the Next Generation of CPA Firms?

Join the new generation of CPA who is finding success by reimagining and recreating the traditional CPA firm for the 21st century at the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit.

  • Leverage new technologies.
  • Implement new workflows.
  • Invent new client acquisition and relationship management systems.
  • Improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Grow revenues.
  • Optimize profitability.
  • Embrace value pricing.
  • Kill the billable hour.
  • Attract, nurture and motivate the best talent.

Get ready to renew your commitment – and be inspired anew – to transform your life, and the lives of colleagues and clients for the better.

Join Rick Telberg as he moderates this panel of young CPA professionals including:

  • Jason Deshayes, CPA, Vice President, Butler CPAs, Albuquerque, NM
  • Michael Elliott, CPA, Manager, Dittrick & Associates, Inc., Burton, OH
  • Joy Lizotte, CPA, Owner, Joy L. Lizotte, CPA, LLC, Lake City, FL

(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

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Are You Using Digital Signatures?

Kicking off day two of the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit is the session "What‘s in the Future for Digital Signatures?." Business in general, and the CPA profession specifically, have long sought a solution to the inefficiencies of ink and paper-based signatures. Has technology finally solved the problem or do we continue to wait? There are many popular “solutions,” but do they really solve the problem(s)? This session, presented by Erik Asgeirsson, CEO, CPA2Biz, a subsidiary of the AICPA, and Brian Fox, CPA, founder of Confirmation.com, will define the problems and compare and contrast some of the proposed solutions. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

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AICPA Launches #MainStFinancials (FRF for SMEs)

Earlier today, the AICPA announced the launch of the Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities. This session at the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit covers AICPA Director of Private Company Financial Reporting, Robert Durak, CPA, CGMA, as he highlights key features and benefits of the Financial Reporting Framework for SMEs, as well as important accounting topics within the FRF for SMEs. You can find more information on the framework by following #MainStFinancials. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

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New Taxes and the Cost of Healthcare and Insurance

The 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit takes place June 10 to 12 in Las Vegas. I am live blogging from select sessions throughout the three days. The first session is "The Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business: New Taxes and the Cost of Healthcare and Insurance" with Mark Dietrich, CPA/ABV, of Framingham, Mass. Mark wrote a prelude on AICPA Insights which generated a lot of interest and conversation.

This session covers the Accountable Care Act, which is the most significant and costly social spending legislation since the Great Society programs of the 1960s. Its impact extends beyond health insurance, and envisions a system of regulation and taxation that aims to restrict the impact that income has on access to healthcare, except the wealthiest top .1% (one-tenth of 1%) of taxpayers. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

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CPA Exam Q3/Q4 2013 Score Release Timetables

Cpa-exam-score-release-timetableCPA Exam score release timetables have been such a hot topic amongst candidates that we have decided to post regular updates. Updated score release timelines are announced twice annually on AICPA Insights and also posted on the CPA Exam website. Since we would rather have candidates study for the CPA Exam 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.

Scores for the CPA Exam are released by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to individual boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates listed in the table below. 

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What Does It Take to Value a Business?

As CPAs, we get so consumed with our day-to-day challenges of serving clients and employers that we can neglect some of the big-picture issues that are going to impact the not-so-distant future of our profession. That’s what was behind the AICPA’s Vision 2011 project, and more recently our CPA Horizons 2025, but it’s also the subject of a series of panels we’ve convened to bring thought leaders together. Last month’s topic was value versus valuation, which is not a new issue, but one that has intensified in recent years. This video is just a snippet of that conversation. You can view the full video on AICPA TV.

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Managing and Retaining Data: Top Priority for CPAs

TechnologyTechnology allows organizations to make more effective use of data in advising clients and making business decisions. However, the explosive growth in the volume and complexity of information has increased the risks in managing and retaining data – which, according to the 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey, is the top priority for CPAs.

While everyone can agree that data management is integral to an organization’s ability to mitigate risk, an organization whose data management policies and procedures are insufficient or ineffective is exposed to the consequences of poor data management. Those consequences could result from poor business decisions or client advice that was based on incomplete or inaccurate data, having data stored in outdated or incompatible retrieval formats or improperly backing up data, which can result in its irrevocable loss.

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Sustainability Reporting: Don’t Miss this Opportunity

Business-inventoryWhether boosting the bottom line, preserving the planet or a combination of the two, sustainability has officially crossed the threshold of America’s businesses, with many of the greatest skeptics even now realizing that it’s here to stay. In fact, according to the Governance & Accountability Institute’s report: 2012 Corporate Environmental, Social and Governance / Sustainability / Responsibility Reporting – Does It Matter? Analysis of S&P 500 Companies’ ESG Reporting Trends and Capital Markets Response, “53 percent of S&P 500 Index companies are currently disclosing ESG information, compared to about 19-20 percent of the S&P 500 reporting in 2010.”

Sustainability’s momentum is being fueled by a large, influential and growing majority of supporters: business leaders. They recognize that sustainability-minded organizations are more committed to management checks and balances, informed decision-making and community goodwill. What follows is an organization’s reputation for greater stability, less risk and a more secure market value. Sustainability-minded organizations are among the top choices when retailers and other businesses create vendor relationships, select investment candidates and make purchase decisions.

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Tax Reform is Centerpiece of CPAs’ Advocacy on Capitol Hill

Capitol HillWhen more than 400 leaders of the CPA profession journeyed to Washington, D.C., to attend last month’s AICPA Spring Meeting of Council, visits to Capitol Hill to engage in advocacy of the profession’s legislative goals were a highlight of the agenda. To no one’s surprise, tax reform – which sits atop the list of the Institute’s legislative priorities – was a focal point of the visits.

The AICPA has a longstanding tradition of advocating for sound tax policy and assisting lawmakers on tax policy matters. The proliferation of new income tax provisions since the 1986 tax reform effort has led to complex compliance hurdles for taxpayers, administrative complexity and enforcement challenges for the Internal Revenue Service. The Institute has testified on tax reform before the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and submitted technical recommendations to five study groups whose findings will shape legislation expected later this year.

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