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19 posts from January 2014

In the News: The State of Accounting Jobs

We-are-hiringI don’t really recall my mindset when applying to college (it’s been more than five 15 years), but I can confidently say I should have spent more time thinking about my future employment prospects. Planning ahead would have allowed me to spend less time in college worrying that it would be difficult to find a job related to my major.

Luckily for high school students interested in accounting and college students planning to become CPAs, the job-related news about the profession lately has been very positive.

According to data from a survey conducted in November 2013 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 61% of accounting majors from the class of 2013 had received at least one job offer – the third highest percentage of any major.

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Super Bowl’s Hidden Treasure… the Jock Tax

Super-bowl-hotelAs the focus here in New Jersey switches from “Bridgegate” to “tailgate,” we think about the things that we love best about the Super Bowl. A few of mine include eating wings, drinking beer and, of course, watching those witty commercials. However, as the players gear up to battle the elements this week, one other thing separates this Super Bowl from the others: the proverbial taxman. Many states impose an income tax on nonresidents’ earnings and New Jersey is one of them. To professional athletes, it is known as the “jock tax.” 

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Top 10 Tax Resources for the 2014 Tax Season

Top-tenCaffeine, check. Office supplies, check. Patience for lost or late documents, check. What else do you need for tax season besides, of course, sympathetic family and friends?  Knowledge and technical resources help, as does convenience in finding them – so keep these resources from the AICPA bookmarked to help you prepare returns, manage your office, advise and communicate with clients, and even keep a sense of humor.

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Interview with Team Who Wrote Net Investment Income Tax

Bob Keebler interviews David Kirk and Adrienne Mikolshek, part of the team who wrote the Net Investment Income Tax regulations, to help members understand the new IRS Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax for Individuals, Estates and Trusts and the draft instructions. Access more resources in the Planning After ATRA and NIIT Toolkit, including more podcasts, a customizable letter to send to clients to illustrate why it is important that they meet with you and new charts by Bob Keebler as well as webcast recordings and Forefield Advisor alerts/videos and the complete four-volume set of The CPA’s Guide to Financial & Estate Planning, recently updated for ATRA and NIIT and much more.

Interview with David Kirk and Adrienne Mikolashek

 

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Project Management: Getting Results and Seeing the Big Picture

Project-managementIt’s hard to believe I’m roughly one quarter of the way into my term as Chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors. In that role, I travel around the country extensively, meeting many members as I attend conferences, participate in meetings and give presentations, often at state CPA societies. I’m always excited to talk about the issues and opportunities facing our profession.  One area CPAs have been particularly eager to discuss is the concept of project management. And that was very interesting to me because I have long been a firm believer that strong project management skills are essential to getting your job done, growing your career and becoming an effective leader.

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Explore the New IRS Form for Net Investment Income Tax

Bob Keebler goes line by line through Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax for Individual, Estates and Trusts, to help members understand key elements they need to know for tax season. Access more resources in the Planning After ATRA and NIIT Toolkit, including more podcasts, a customizable letter to send to clients to illustrate why it is important that they meet with you and new charts by Bob Keebler as well as webcast recordings and Forefield Advisor alerts/videos and the complete four-volume set of The CPA’s Guide to Financial & Estate Planning, recently updated for ATRA and NIIT, and much more. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website.)

IRS Form 8960 Draft Instructions

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Authoritative Guidance Issued for CPA Personal Financial Planners

Personal financial planning is projected to grow at a rate double that of the accounting profession through 2017. The expansion of services in areas such as estate, retirement, risk management and investments and the increased demand for these services have led the AICPA to further enhance its authoritative guidance in the delivery of personal financial planning services for the benefit of AICPA members' clients and practices.

The AICPA Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services provides AICPA members with comprehensive, enforceable guidance and a roadmap for delivering PFP services consistently and confidently. The standards are built on the cornerstone of the CPA profession – the public interest – and align with the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, which upholds the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, objectivity and competence. Following the statement ensures that members’ clients receive the information they need to make sound financial decisions and that the standard of care expected of members holding out as trusted advisers is met.

A robust toolkit has been developed to help members understand the depth of the statement and put it into practice by the effective date of July 1. The toolkit is available to PFP Section members and CPA/PFS credential holders as a member benefit. It is also available for purchase

This informative podcast covers the ins and outs of the standards and how you will benefit from having a framework to guide your work with clients. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast and see the slides on our website.)

Understanding and Applying the Statement on Standards in PFP Services

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Celebrating a Life of Service

MLK-Day-of-Service“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day commemorating the extraordinary work and sacrifice of an incredible man; a day when people across the country strive to answer King’s question by coming together to serve their neighbors and communities. King is best known for his dedication to the advancement of civil rights, and, in his later years, poverty eradication and economic justice.

The MLK Day of Service is part of United We Serve, the President's national call to service initiative, asking Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.

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Cheater’s High? Let’s Talk About the “Auditor’s High”

According to a recent blog entry on the New York Times’ website, researchers have found that people who cheated, and got away with it, experienced a thrill, self-satisfaction and a sense of superiority. While that sensation was not as strong as the high that rats apparently get from eating Oreo cookies, it illustrates how exciting cheating can be. Take for instance the following:

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Understanding the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and Its Effects

In this podcast, Bob Keebler discusses the impact of the regulations on net investment income tax. Access more resources in the Planning After ATRA and NIIT Toolkit, including more podcasts, a customizable letter to send to clients to illustrate why it is important that they meet with you and new charts by Bob Keebler as well as webcast recordings and Forefield Advisor alerts/videos and the complete four-volume set of The CPA’s Guide to Financial & Estate Planning, recently updated for ATRA and NIIT and much more. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast and see the slides on our website.)

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

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Tax Relief for Disaster Victims: We Can Do Better, Sooner

Hurricane-sandyIn 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit landfall along the Gulf Coast, the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 (H.R. 3768) was introduced and passed by Congress in less than two weeks.

Unfortunately, this prompt response is not the standard model each time a disaster occurs.    Relief offered through the tax system varies, and as explained in the AICPA’s comment letter submitted to Congress last November, “this process results in taxpayers receiving different treatment for similar losses and not knowing what tax treatment they will receive until Congress enacts some form of relief, which frequently occurs long after the disaster.”

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AICPA Scholarship Applications Now Live [INFOGRAPHIC]

The AICPA’s Legacy Scholars Program, which awarded more than $370,000 in scholarships in the 2013-2014 academic year, has announced that applications are now live for 2014-2015. The application deadline is April 1 for the four scholarship programs that comprise the AICPA Legacy Scholars Program. In addition to financial assistance, the scholarship recipients gain real-world experience and develop the skills employers want to see.

Check out the infographic below for more information on the program.

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Get “Unstuck” in 2014

Fish-getting-unstuckLike so many of you, I am passionate about both leadership and learning. Recently, the thought struck me that on occasion, my desire for personal and professional growth might actually get in the way of my leadership and learning.

I’m sure you can relate to the feeling of “sprinting to the finish” on various projects. But how often do you really feel like you’ve reached the finish line? Instead, what if we’re actually like hamsters on a wheel, essentially stuck in one place? This was an “ah ha” moment for me—a realization that my logical mind had some trouble laying bare.

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How CPAs Can Prepare Clients for Healthcare Reform

Health-care-fileCurrently, there is a massive amount of confusion in the business community and among consumers – the very same people that are CPAs in public accounting’s clients – with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Change, of course, creates opportunity, and knowledgeable CPAs can expand their role as trusted advisers by gaining an understanding of the implications of the ACA on businesses and individuals.

The changes in insurance primarily affect two client types: small business and individuals who do not get insurance from their employer. This latter group would include self-employed individuals and their families who do not qualify under the definition of “small business” for purposes of the ACA’s insurance market rules. There are provisions for large employers that go into effect in 2015.

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In the News: CPAs Providing Financial Guidance for 2014

New-year-resolution

In a recent post I detailed a number of articles highlighting tax tips provided by AICPA staff and members that individuals can use to save themselves money when they file their 2013 returns.

As the calendar flips to 2014 (the year of the polar vortex), AICPA members and staff have been providing guidance on how to ‘recover’ from holiday spending, save more in 2014, and outlining tax changes that may impact consumers.

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Women and Leadership: The Path Not Yet Taken

Business-womenWhat are the consequences if organizations aren’t making the most of up to half of their potential talent?  Unfortunately, that’s the case in many firms, according to recent AICPA trends data, which found that the percentage of women in leadership positions in the profession has actually dropped from 23% in 2010 to 19% today. As you can imagine, this trend was a hot topic of conversation at the AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit, which was held in Washington D.C. in October. Those who attended the Summit found those statistics particularly troubling because among those present were a number of very talented and vibrant women. If firms and companies are not working to create opportunities for talented women to live up to their full potential, then these organizations are missing out on a lot.

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Trust But Verify – Another Perspective on Comfort Letters

Back in March, AICPA Senior Vice President Susan Coffey wrote about the dangers of providing client comfort letters. Since then, we’ve been hearing from more and more members that they are seeing a rise in requests from third parties for some sort of assurance on client accounting and tax information, or financial condition. I think Edward Karl said it best in CPAs and Comfort Letters: The New Chocolate (from the July edition/DC Currents column of The Tax Adviser) when he described them as requests for “verification, confirmation, certification, corroboration, authentication or substantiation of their clients’ financial information.” You name it, we’ve been asked to validate it. On the bright side, an increase in these requests confirms the faith, confidence and trust that business owners, decision makers and the public have in CPAs.

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The Value of Self-Regulation and the Tools that Help Drive It

Peer-Review-25-YearsSuccessful organizations know the importance of learning from the past while, at the same time, looking forward. For the past 25 years, the AICPA Peer Review Program has helped firms do just that by evaluating firms’ accounting and auditing practices and providing them with opportunities for improvement through combined educational and remedial aspects. 

The core value of the Peer Review Program is self-regulation.  Aside from allowing CPAs to learn effective practice techniques from one another, self-regulation comes with many other benefits that positively affect firms, clients, the profession and the public, including:

  • Monitoring adherence to the highest professional standards;
  • Uncovering and helping to correct firm service deficiencies and inefficiencies; and
  • Educating reviewed firms in professional standards and sharing best practices.

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Happy New Year from AICPA Insights

Welcome to 2014 and happy New Year! 2013 was an amazing year and we are looking forward to what 2014 brings. If you haven't taken a look yet, explore the top 10 blog posts of 2013. And if one of your resolutions for 2014 is to stay up-to-date on accounting news, be sure to signup for AICPA Insights' RSS feed or email updates. To celebrate 2013, enjoy this look back at all of the profession's accomplishments in 2013.

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