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21 posts from October 2013

Spotlight on Health Care Reform with AICPA Insights Live

Health-careEveryone seems to have an opinion on the Affordable Care Act. But what about the facts and what about the impact for your clients?

Ted J. Sarenski, CPA/PFS, CFP, AEP, provided straightforward answers to these questions during the second webcast session of AICPA Insights Live on Oct. 18. His presentation, titled “What CPAs Need to Know to Advise Clients on Healthcare,” covered the latest developments regarding health care reform, including requirements, deadlines, the individual mandate, penalties and federal subsidies, as well as his predictions and advice for clients in 2014.

To start, what’s changed with the Affordable Care Act? Sarenski recapped the new ground rules for health insurance with a quick rundown:

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CPAs Wanted for Lead Role in Sustainability

SustainabilityIf there’s one realism that has emerged since it first appeared on the leadership front more than 30 years ago, it’s that sustainability is neither a passing fad nor a fleeting priority. Time has proven that a focus on sustainability initiatives, linked to business strategy, as a top organization priority, can deliver measureable bottom-line and reputational returns far beyond initial expectations.

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Help! I Have a Bad Review on Yelp

This week I had the pleasure of discussing social media with CPAs at a CPAConnect meeting in Nashville, TN. At the end of our session, a gentleman approached me with a very interesting question: “What do you do when you get a negative review on Yelp?”

YelpYelp is a website with local search, social networking and discounted deal content. The site includes business listings, directory information, and user generated reviews. Yelp is increasingly popular for people seeking services, including CPAs. Not sure if anyone has reviewed you or your firm? Do a simple search on the site to find out.

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A Business Case for Women in Your Organization

In my final live blog from the Women's Global Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., we look at the business of women’s initiatives and the importance of linking your efforts to strategic imperatives for alignment and buy-in. Panelists for this session, "Finding the Right Balance: A Business Case for Women in Your Organization," include:

  • Michael Bach, CCDP/AP, founder and CEO, Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, Canada
  • Mary Bennett, MBA, CIA, CEC, chair of AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, founder, MLBennett Consulting LLC, Asheville, NC
  • Todd R. Mitchell, CPA, CGMA, CEO Solutions LLC, Greer, SC

Mary Bennett is an expert in helping the accounting industry build business-focused initiatives relative to retaining and developing women. She has helped hundreds of firms in the U.S. and Canada to understand their business reasons for investing in these efforts. Male and female partners and managers in these firms come to understand the myths and misperceptions about “women’s initiatives.” They begin to understand where the real business risks are and what their specific scenario indicates in terms of strategy application. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)

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Engage in New Opportunities and Challenges

Kicking off day two of the Women's Global Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. is Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc. The global economy is fundamentally changing and, with it, much of what we have learned about the world we live in. It is difficult to escape from the mental anchors that hold us at bay in yesterday’s world, yet as professionals, women and potential leaders, we have to work on changing our perspectives and becoming engaged in the new opportunities and challenges we face. Join me as I live blog today's keynote session as our resistance to change is exposed and we open up to the world of change that is emerging. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)

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Katty Kay on Womenomics: Women in the Workplace

Katty Kay, Lead Anchor, BBC World News America, and co-author of Womenomics: The Workplace Revolution That Will Change Your Life, is the keynote speaker for day one of the Women's Global Leadership Summit taking place Oct. 24 to 25 in Washington, D.C. I am live blogging from her keynote session, "Womenomics: A New Path to Business Success." (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)

At the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde called the advancement of women the greatest economic opportunity of our time. She is recognizing what Kay calls “womenomics” — the extraordinary value of women in the workforce. Global studies show that companies that employ more senior women make more money. They have more degrees and are ideally suited to the demands of our talent-driven economy. But to keep them in the economy, the workplace must adapt to their needs. Too many women in their mid-30s hit the brick wall of kids vs. career. But we cannot afford to keep losing them. Kay marshals evidence from employers large and small to show how possible it is to satisfy the demands of family and career. Flexible work schedules prove to be a win-win; when companies take the clocks off the wall and choose to measure output instead of input, they see productivity rise by an average of 40%. What starts as talent retention becomes a profit bonus any company would be happy to have. She gives an inspirational boost to women and a practical guide to employers, drawing on her own juggles as the working mother of four children. This presentation provides research- and experience-based advice to companies looking to retain and recruit valuable female employees.

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To Match or Not to Match? 1099-K Notices Bewilder Taxpayers

Confused-womanDo you have tax clients who run small businesses or decided to sell their household items on eBay this past year? Or perhaps you are a CPA who accepts credit card payments from your clients? If so, you may have already received a notice from the IRS or should be aware of the latest updates on the IRS push for information matching with Form 1099-Ks (Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions). Some AICPA members have received 1099-K mismatch notices assessing thousands of dollars in penalties.  

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Finding the Silver Lining in Succession

Succession-planWhen people talk about succession, they tend to focus on issues such as valuations, buyout amounts, deferred compensation, partnership agreements, the development of new leaders and client retention. Not much is said about the emotional side of succession. Let’s face it: As with any transition, succession hurts. Owners struggle with letting go of the business and the relationships they’ve built,  and the new owners struggle to gain a foothold in their new roles.

Even in a well-planned and executed succession, there are a number of events and circumstances that cause some level of discomfort.  Succession tests the personal and leadership strength of the outgoing owner and, when not recognized, can deflate the excitement of the incoming owners and even threaten their future success. If we acknowledge this side up front, we’ll be better able to set ourselves on a smooth and successful journey. So, what tough challenges should we prepare for on the road to succession?

 

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Fall Review of State Legislative and Regulatory Issues: Part 1 of 2

CPA-Mobility-MapAcross the county, state legislatures considered numerous issues that impact the CPA profession.  In Part one of this two-part post, we review legislation that affected CPA mobility, including streamlining military family licensure processes, promoting film tax credits and creating state tax tribunals.  Part two will cover state board reorganizations, sales tax on professional services, new peer review laws and CPAs providing services for marijuana-related businesses.

Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia have passed individual CPA mobility laws and the remaining U.S. jurisdictions are working toward this goal.  These laws allow CPAs to operate across state lines without obtaining reciprocal licenses in each state in which they practice.  New state legislation is sometimes proposed in a way that can have unintended consequences on the profession’s mobility regime.  This year, there were three particularly noteworthy areas where CPA cross-border practice could have been put in jeopardy.  These included:

  1. the easing of occupational licensing requirements for members of the military and their spouses;
  2. the creation of film tax incentives requiring audits by in-state CPAs; and
  3. the establishment of state tax tribunals wherein CPAs would seek to represent taxpayers.

Continue reading "Fall Review of State Legislative and Regulatory Issues: Part 1 of 2" »

Integrating Retirement Planning with Your CPA Practice

Social-securityWhat do the 77 million baby boomers have in common over the next 15 years? They are all going to face retirement in one form or another. Never before in U.S. history has such a large generation transitioned to retirement with so many years still ahead of them. Are they ready? Can they afford it?  What does it look like? Who will answer these and other questions they have? Who else but the CPA has the financial, economic and analytical education, and ability coupled with the highest ethical standards of placing objectivity and integrity at the forefront of all advice. CPAs have a huge opportunity to expand their practices into the area of retirement planning as the natural progression from guiding their clients through the accumulation years.

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In the News: AICPA to Congress: Consolidate Small Business Retirement Plans

The AICPA is gearing up for our Fall Meeting of Council, which begins Oct. 20 in Los Angeles. Be sure to follow @AICPA_JofA and @AICPANews on Twitter and subscribe to the AICPA’s Press Center RSS feed to keep up with all the news and information coming out of the meeting.

In the meantime, I’ve highlighted a few recent accounting articles in the news that you may missed over the last week.

US-capitolAccounting Today covered the recent written testimony that the AICPA submitted for the record of the House Small Business Committee’s hearing on retirement savings for small employers. In the testimony Jeffrey A. Porter, AICPA Tax Executive Committee chairman, suggested several ways to simplify the complexity of the retirement planning universe.

“When a small business grows and begins to explore options for establishing a retirement plan, the alternatives, and the various rules, can become overwhelming,” he wrote in his testimony.

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Finance’s Vital Role in Managing Organizational Risk

Rope-light-bulb“Accountants have a vital role in translating the impact on the financials in three metrics: operating performance, balance sheet strength, and volatility,” said Gregory Case, President and Chief Executive of Aon at a CGMA event held in partnership with the London think tank Tomorrow’s Company. “The whole role of the accounting profession, the language of finance, is absolutely essential and critical.”

According to a recent article in CGMA Magazine, “the aggregate level of risk to businesses is rising at an unprecedented pace. Cybersecurity challenges threaten businesses and even the stock exchanges where value is traded. Social media’s expanding influence can draw attention to risks, crush reputations and cause investors to flee.”

I’m continuously impressed by how CPA, CGMAs are applying their strengths and knowledge to help organizations adapt and embrace innovation. During our visits to large multi-nationals, we learn how the finance teams in highly successful companies are harnessing innovation. In addition, we invited senior executives to share their experiences at events in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Their insights and our research results are captured in the CGMA report, “Managing Innovation: Harnessing the power of finance.”

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The American Dream Extends Beyond Our Borders

Rich-caturano-brazilWhen I became chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors a year ago, my first blog post addressed several key issues for the profession. But mainly I talked about the accounting profession as a path to the American Dream. That’s my life experience – humble beginnings and following my role-model neighbor who was the first CPA I ever knew. Having represented the United States accounting profession at a Brazilian conference in August, I now fully understand that the American Dream is a universal desire and our profession is a way to achieve it.

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10 Risks Facing Nonprofits [LIVE BLOG]

We thought it only fitting that we live blog from our first AICPA Insights Live webcast. Follow along here or on Twitter at #AICPAInsightsLive. The first webcast in this series covers the top ten risk issues that need to be understood and managed, with practical tips and advice on juggling risks while keeping your mission aloft. (Email subscibers can catch up on the coverage on our website.) Don't miss out on the other webcasts in this series and sign up for the bundle today.

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Am I “Preparing” Financial Statements?

Financial-statements-wordartI meet many members throughout the year at various AICPA conferences and their input is truly valuable. We discuss the issues they are encountering in practice and guidance that would help them. Over the past few years, a common question concerned whether members have “prepared” financial statements for their clients.

Each of their scenarios has provided their own unique set of circumstances and it has been insightful talking through how they make judgments about whether the accountant should follow the reporting requirements for compilation engagements. The AICPA has provided a great deal of guidance on the topic but, with the increased use of cloud applications, the questions just keep coming up and becoming even more complex.

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It’s Extension Time! Checklist for Reporting Foreign Assets

Tax-checklistAs we come to an end of the filing season, keep in mind important foreign information reporting requirements that may affect your client’s income tax return.  On this year’s Form 1040, did you check “yes” that the client has a foreign bank account on Schedule B and list the location of the account? 

How about completing Form 8938 Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets?   The purpose of Form 8938 is to report an interest in specified foreign financial assets, which include, but are not limited to:  foreign bank accounts, brokerage accounts, interest in foreign entities and any “foreign financial instrument or contract that has an issuer or counterparty that is not a U.S. person.” Once your client meets certain reporting requirement thresholds, Form 8938 is required.

Here are some last-minute reminders to help you through the Oct. 15 tax deadline: 

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Have You Hugged Your CPA Today?

Young-CPAsMore than sixty-five million Americans are serving as volunteer caregivers for vulnerable loved ones – and as baby-boomers step into senior status, that number will rise. Caregiving for someone with a disability, lengthy illness or aging issues is challenging enough, but adding money concerns to the mix can create a massive strain on individuals and families. Caregivers find themselves thrust into roles they are poorly suited to maintain. Juggling medical, relationship and job-related matters can often pale in the face of the financial pressures of caring for someone who is chronically ill or disabled. 

The key is sustainability – and in order to manage the massive bills, extra costs and nuances of the tax code, I have found that I require the help of a trained professional, specifically a CPA.

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Introducing AICPA Insights Live: Weekly Webcast Series

AICPA-Insights-LiveEarlier this year, AICPA Insights turned three years old. Through that time we have explored different ways to provide news and information on hot topics to our readers. One of the more popular methods of sharing information has been our podcasts. This led us to a new feature that we’re pleased to introduce to you this week: AICPA Insights Live.

AICPA Insights Live is a new weekly webcast series, which will occur Fridays at 1 p.m. ET starting Oct. 11. A hot topic that is important to AICPA members and the accounting profession will be covered each session, starting with the top risks facing nonprofits. Currently scheduled topics include year-end tax planning, internal controls and more.

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Federal Government Shutdown - It’s Deja vu All Over Again

Government-closedThere’s an old adage that “there’s nothing new under the sun” and so it is inside the Beltway.  As you are well aware, the federal government suspended most of its operations on Oct. 1 after Congress failed to pass a bill to extend funding to mid-November, the first such shutdown in 17 years. Strong political discourse is alive and well in America and it is part of the price we pay for democracy.  It was that way in 1996 when a shutdown lasted three weeks. Hopefully a compromise can be reached quicker this time around.

On the tax front, with more than 85,000 Internal Revenue Service workers now furloughed until Congress reauthorizes spending, many non-essential IRS functions have shut down, including all taxpayer services, as well as examinations. The closure of taxpayer and practitioner hotlines is particularly challenging for those individuals who must file a Form 1040 by Oct. 15 and need to contact the IRS. Nevertheless, no filing deadlines are postponed and returns must be filed. We have urged the IRS to consider the substantial burden imposed on taxpayers (and practitioners) by the inability to communicate with and obtain information from the IRS.

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How You Can Manage the Risks of a System Implementation

System-implementationManaging a system implementation is not an easy task. And if done incorrectly, can cause significant headaches for your business and your customers. There are ways, however, to identify the risks of a system implementation and manage those risks more effectively.

It's fair to say that an organization’s strategic goals drive the systems it implements. However, if those goals and the implementation are not aligned, your organization risks realizing only part of the implementation's expected value, or worse – realizing no value at all. Having other risk factors such as errors in converting or migrating data come to fruition only add to what may already seem like a monumental undertaking.

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Updates and Resources from the CPA Exam

CPA-Exam-CandidateThere are a few updates being implemented to make the candidate experience more user-friendly when taking the Uniform CPA Examination.

We are adding a comma to the calculator on the CPA Exam. The comma is meant for large numbers such as 1,000 and above to make them easier to read. We are also updating the tutorial to reflect a few recent changes to the CPA Exam, and at the same time we’re updating the technologies we use to present the tutorial.  These changes will make it much easier for candidates to access the tutorial on a variety of hardware platforms. Both the tutorial and comma go into effect Oct. 1.

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