20 posts categorized "General" Feed

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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We’re Two Years Old!

Two-cakeAICPA Insights® is celebrating its two year anniversary today! Now that we’re two years old, you can expect us to ask “why?” a lot more, refer to our imaginary friends frequently and throw a temper tantrum or two.

Joking aside, it has been an amazing and wonderful journey together. By focusing on news, trends and innovations important to the CPA profession, we’ve reached into 211 countries/territories, received more than 1,000,000 page views and attracted more than 600,000 individual visitors since our birth. Our more than 25 different highly qualified and diverse bloggers will continue providing you with the valuable, thought-provoking information you’ve come to expect from this blog. We’d like to say thank you for your participation and engaging with your colleagues and subject matter experts. Here are some of the top blog posts over the past two years:

You are the reason the blog has become an essential resource. Please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey about your preferences so we can continue to meet your needs.

Thank you again for your readership! 

Two cake image via Shutterstock

CPAs to Federal Government: Reduce the Debt

Money-on-fireMost Americans greeted the news that the “fiscal cliff” had been averted with a mix of relief that a worst case scenario had been averted and frustration with the seemingly endless process. What has been lost on some casual observers is that, as a result of the deal, the U.S. deficit will actually increase an additional $4 trillion dollars in the next decade, according to the Centralized Budget Office.

Earlier this week, the AICPA released the results of a survey* asking members questions regarding the economic sustainability of the United States. The survey found that the vast majority are calling on the federal government to demonstrate more fiscal responsibility. In fact, seven in ten U.S. CPAs are concerned that both individuals and families will be severely affected if policy makers are unable to reduce the federal debt.

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4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Online Presence

Manage online presenceIt’s important for any CPA firm to have a strong presence online. According to Local Search Usage Study: Bridging the Caps, From Search to Sales, 70% of consumers go online first for local business information. Are potential clients finding your firm? Not only do you want to be easy to find in cyberspace, but you also want to present yourself as an expert and trusted financial advisor. A simple website is a start, but is not enough to give you an edge in today’s competitive environment. In order to find new clients, and keep the ones you already have, focus your efforts on ways to boost your online presence. I have found that even small efforts go a long way toward a more prolific online presence.

Here are four steps to raise your online credibility and widen your client base in the process.

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AICPA Celebrates 125 Years of Representing CPA Profession

AICPA 125 AnniversaryThe AICPA has reached a remarkable milestone: being one of the few organizations to celebrate 125 years. As you can imagine, the CPA profession has changed a lot over this period. Throughout the year, the AICPA and its members will be celebrating this special anniversary and reflecting on the history of the CPA profession. Since people are what make a profession, we asked members to give us their thoughts on what the AICPA means to them and the value of being part of a strong CPA profession.

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Tell Us What You Think

Welcome to AICPA Insights, the official blog for the AICPA. AICPA Insights features posts from AICPA staff on a variety of topics affecting the accounting profession, the AICPA and its members.

AICPA Insights turned six months old on Jan. 11! It's hard to believe we've been publishing this long already. A huge thank you to all our readers and contributors! 

We'd like to get your feedback on the blog so far and find out what we can do to improve.

Take just a few minutes to complete this short survey.

AICPA Insights Wins Gold in Association TRENDS All Media Contest

Thanks to all our readers and contributors, AICPA Insights has been awarded Gold in the Social Media category for Association TRENDS' All Media Contest.

The All Media Contest is an annual competition held exclusively for associations, recognizing the most creative and effective communication vehicles developed in the industry over the prior year. The 2011 competition included more than 450 entries in 22 categories of association communications. 

 

Social Media and Job Seekers

Dear Smarty Pants, Braggarts and Potty-Mouths… A word to the wise: you never know who is listening.

I am often taken aback by the things I see people posting on social media. I understand the need to vent or an attempt to be funny, but what you put out there in the public domain could be costing you your career. In a recent survey, 95% of employers said they use social media to screen potential employees. Yes, 95%! Yikes. From inappropriate photos and comments about previous employers to proof an applicant was less than truthful about qualifications… employers are getting an eye full!

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In the News: IRS Tax Preparer Fees

1040 formsPatrick Temple-West at Reuters reports that the IRS is getting ready to impose the first comprehensive regulation of the industry's 730,000 practitioners who prepare tax returns. The IRS estimates the licensing fee for some tax preparers at between $250 and $275, which includes one-time fees to take a competency exam and be fingerprinted. (CPAs are exempt from the exam and fingerprint requirement and fees. For decades, CPAs and other credentialed preparers have been subject to state regulation as well as IRS rules for ethical practice and procedures, but many others were not.) The AICPA supports tax preparer regulation, but has expressed concern over the costs of requiring supervised non-signing staff at CPA firms to be fingerprinted "We have serious concerns regarding the level of burden that the user fee regulations will place on CPA firms, primarily small- and medium-size CPA firms," said Patricia Thompson, who chairs the AICPA Tax Executive Committee. The IRS, which plans to finalize the new fees in coming months, recently said it was open to ways to mitigate costs

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CPA Day of Service, Estate Tax, Debit Card Fees

We asked our bloggers to tell us what they found interesting on the Internet this week. What would you add to this list?

Stacie Saunders - The Virginia State Society of CPAs shared this video on the AICPA Facebook page. It highlights how some of their members contributed to the 2011 CPA Day of Service. Great work!

Eileen Reichenberg Sherr, CPA, MST - The IRS announced in IR- 2011-97 that estates of people who died in 2011 need to file estate tax returns to benefit from the new portability rules even if they do not otherwise need to file an estate tax return. Since the estate tax return is due nine months after death, it could be due as early as Oct. 3, but a six month extension can be filed to give the estate more time to consider this option.

Gregory J. Wright, MBAIn a move that surprised many, Bank of America stated it was going to roll out a debit card fee plan that would charge customers $5 per month if they wished to pay for purchases using their debit card. After criticism from the public, Bank of America went on the defensive, stating “…we lost lots of revenues and these fees only partially make them up.” Bank of America lost $2.2 billion in 2010 and recently posted an $8.8 billion loss for Q2 2011.

We’d be remiss this week if we did not mention the passing of Steve Jobs as the biggest news item of the week. His innovation and leadership changed the face of technology as we know it. We leave you with this quote, which we feel summarizes his legacy well. This is from his commencement speech at Stanford University, June 2005.

"[Y]ou can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

 

Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

Statue of libertyTen years – a decade in time – but with memories embedded so vividly in our minds, it is as if it could have been yesterday. Our thoughts are still with the 3,000 Americans who were killed, and the more than 6,000 who have died in ensuing military actions. Our country came together after September 11, with people of all colors and political beliefs flying American flags outside their doors. Candles lit our windows; yellow ribbons hung from our doors and mailboxes, and tears streamed from our saddened and disbelieving eyes.

Having a view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan from my Jersey City apartment where I grew up, the skyline has always been a natural part of my life.

The skyline morphed over the years and after the early 1970s, the twin towers became the dominant focal point to the breathtaking view of downtown Manhattan.

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In the News: Hurricane Irene, Cloud Computing

Hurricane Irene Disaster PreparednessAs Topical Storm Irene left a trail of devastation in its wake, initial estimates of damages were in the billions. For individuals struggling to put the pieces of their life together, the aftermath can be extremely difficult to navigate. Michael Eisenberg, CPA/PFS, told MarketWatch that gathering the facts and carefully evaluating contractors was the prudent approach. “As much as somebody wants to jump in and do something now, you need to step back a little bit, take a breath, get your wits about you before you start making decisions,” said Eisenberg. Mitchell Freedman, CPA/PFS, advised readers that in the article if their house is unlivable, they need to find out whether their insurance policy covers the expense of a hotel or rental apartment.

In related news, the AICPA wrote a letter to the IRS asking them to extend the Sept. 15 filing deadline for business tax returns for tax payers and preparers in areas impacted by Hurricane Irene. Mike Cohn of Accounting Today reports that the AICPA asked the IRS to use its administrative authority to grant at least a two-week extension of the deadline for those in the areas affected by the hurricane. Patricia Thompson, CPA, chair of the AICPA’s Tax Executive Committee, also asked that any relief apply to situations in which the taxpayer, tax return preparer or the records are located in areas ravaged by the hurricane. The Tax Adviser reports that the IRS announced September 1 that taxpayers in certain areas affected by Hurricane Irene have until October 31 to file certain returns and make payments normally due before then. The areas eligible for relief include parts of North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico; the IRS expects to provide similar relief to other places affected by the hurricane, such as Vermont

As many business are considering transitioning to cloud computing, a CFO.com article tackles the not-so-simple question of what it means to ‘move to the cloud.’ As CPA firms who have adopted the cloud model likely know, there are a number of different options for companies looking to make the switch. In the article, Timothy Chou provides real life examples and breaks down six distinct different ways to make the move.

Going Concern recently covered the AICPA’s announcement of the second annual accounting case competition. The article notes that the contest asks college students to flex their fraud and forensic skills in advising a fictional client on a major overseas expansion. “The competition is an opportunity for students to get a hands-on, real-life understanding of one of the fastest-growing interest areas in accounting: fraud and forensics,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president for students, academics and membership. The top three teams will strut their stuff in Washington D.C. and the one that does the best job keeping the project on track — and on the right side of the law — gets $10,000.

If you come across a recent article of note about the profession, please let me know in the comments section or send me an email.

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In the News: Auditor Term Limits, IFRS, Technology

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board logo

Jesse Hamilton of Bloomberg reports that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board voted 5-0 earlier this week to open a public comment period on the idea of establishing term limits for auditors. Proponents said such restrictions may eliminate inappropriate company influence on long-term auditors. The board’s “concept release” would limit the number of consecutive years that an auditor could work for a client. It would combat “the pressure auditors face to develop and protect long-term client relationships to the detriment of investors,” PCAOB Chairman James Doty said. However, the board said it’s open to alternative ideas that would foster auditor independence, as board members expressed reservations. “I have serious doubts that mandatory rotation is a practical or cost-effective way of strengthening independence,” board member Daniel L. Goelzer said.  

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3 Tips on Effective Writing

Edward Everett could have been famous.Abraham Lincoln

He gave the official address back in 1863 at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  It was 13,000+ words and lasted more than two hours.  

By contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s speech was about 200 words and lasted 2 minutes.

Which did history remember?

I used this example during a presentation last week on effective written communication at the E.D.G.E. conference in New Orleans. Too often in business we end up communicating like Everett. Here are three tips — I call them the 3Cs of communication — to make us more like Lincoln.

 

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In the News: Financial Literacy, Mobility, CPA Exam

Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS

The Times Daily in Alabama spoke with Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS, and member of AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission, about preparing college students to handle the responsibility of managing their own money. Without an understanding of the impact of their decisions, young adults can easily fall victim to overwhelming credit card debt and get behind on their student loan payments. McNeill says that one of the best ways to avoid that outcome is to begin teaching children about money long before they leave for college. “Our patterns about money are set before college, so if your kids are savers or spenders, you'll know before then; however, that doesn't mean you can't become better aware of the behavior and make difference choices,” she said.

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In the News: PCGAAP, Protecting Elderly Clients

Paul Stahlin, CPA

Paul Stahlin, CPA, AICPA chairman, wrote an editorial titled ‘One-Size GAAP’ Does Not Fit All for The CPA Journal, a New York State Society of CPAs publication, on the need for differences in accounting standards for privately-held companies. Stahlin highlights the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Private Company Financial Reporting, including the creation of a separate board with standards-setting authority under the Financial Accounting Foundation’s oversight and changes and modifications to existing U.S. GAAP, where appropriate, for private companies.

 

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In the News: IRS Tax Preparer Exam, Same-Sex Filings

CPA Profession in the News Accounting Today reports that the AICPA wrote to the IRS offering to help develop the IRS exam for registered tax return preparers by leveraging the AICPA’ s experience with the Uniform CPA Exam. AICPA Tax Executive Committee Chair Patricia Thompson wrote “we believe the examination should address problems faced by tax return preparers that might arise in the preparation of basic Form 1040 returns, including coverage of basic self-employment income.” Thompson noted that the IRS exam should have questions related to ethical responsibilities of tax return preparers and be updated annually to reflect the most current tax laws and regulations.

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Welcome to AICPA Insights

Barry Melancon, CPA Feedback and exchange are essential components of communications today. And not just between a writer and a reader, but among the readers themselves. Through this interaction, a community is formed. A leader in social media usage by professional organizations, the AICPA has taken another step in providing a community platform among members and others through AICPA Insights, our new blog.

AICPA Insights will provide thoughts and opinions from experts about issues affecting the Institute, CPAs, the clients we serve and the businesses we work for. Our bloggers are members of the AICPA staff, and I’m sure they’ll bring a unique perspective to today’s issues. We’ll also feature guest bloggers covering a wide range of issues.

Later this week you’ll hear about efforts in developing an integrated reporting framework from our Business, Industry and Government team. My next post will focus on private company financial reporting, which I believe is one of the most important issues facing our profession and America’s small businesses and their financial statement users.

I’m excited about our new blog and look forward to all of you engaging in thoughtful discussion. I encourage you to write comments and share posts with colleagues to bring diverse views and experiences that will enrich our knowledge and perspectives.

When I became AICPA President and CEO back in 1995, we could not have imagined the technologies that someday would give us such incredible access to each other. Let’s build on the functionality and develop a robust conversation on everything important to all of us.

Thank you and enjoy.

Barry C. Melancon, CPA, President and CEO, American Institute of CPAs.

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