April is National Financial Capability Month, an annual event designed to help Americans improve their understanding of finances. As a CPA, you can significantly increase its value and impact, and help ensure the month is more than just a reminder to consumers to save and spend wisely. When you get involved, you can:
Help Americans build their financial understanding and capabilities
Strengthen and advance the CPA profession
Give young CPAs an opportunity to develop leadership skills
You have just been handed the project. You know the one – the assignment no one else wanted, and even though you thought you were flying under the radar, the project still landed in your lap. Now what?
You have two options: run away from your boss’s office or face the project head on—and come away a victor. It’s up to you.
Don’t Daunt It, Flaunt It
I think we all face the “dreaded project” at some point or another in our careers, probably on more than one occasion. It can be particularly daunting as a young CPA to get an assignment that’s outside what you consider your realm of expertise, and sometimes, you just can’t say “no.” Yet, to think you will come out of the experience unscathed might not be realistic. Nevertheless, it’s my experience that you will learn and become empowered for the next big challenge.
Here are a few tips to help you handle the difficult assignment—and conquer it:
It all began when I did some research on how our firm members could better understand their worth and confidently present their value to clients and others. We settled on an approach in which participants answer questions about who they are, what they do, how and why they do it, what sets them apart and why clients should do business with them. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn by really considering the answers to such seemingly simple questions.
The AICPA hears a lot from CPA firms that are in need of a succession plan, and challenged by acquiring new talent or engaging the next generation of staff. In figuring out how to leave their firm in good hands, I think the profession can learn many lessons from today’s comedy leaders like Lorne Michaels of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Harold Ramis, as Bill Sheridan pointed out in his Feb. 26 post on CPA Success. They’re working a smart succession planning model. They each gather together a group of gifted staff and give them the opportunity to develop their strengths, making for some very valuable broadcast properties.
Through SNL, Lorne Michaels has nurtured a long list of actors who went on to movie or television stardom after cutting their teeth on the show, including Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert and John Oliver each have their own shows, and Steve Carrel has had both television and movie hits. A lot of talented people have left each program, but that’s alright because the shows’ successes—and the achievements of their alumni—attract new generations of promising young people who want to come on board.
You keep hearing about “the cloud.” You have read articles and attended conference sessions encouraging the use of cloud services. It is clear that the cloud is increasingly becoming a part of our business processes and solutions. Your clients are starting to clue in. This is for good reason. The cloud may enable them to reduce costs, better use their resources and perform more efficiently.
As your clients seek cloud services, how are you advising them?
Your clients should understand the importance of Service Organization Control reports. It is essential that they have trust in their cloud service providers and are assured that their information is being protected by the necessary security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, privacy controls and/or internal controls over financial reporting.
American Indian gaming generates an estimated $26.2 billion in annual gaming revenues within the United States. The industry has seen a vast expansion over that last two decades encompassing 237 tribes in 28 states. The economic impact of American Indian gaming has given tribal nations the opportunity to rebuild their infrastructure and strengthen their culture after decades of destructive federal policies.
As an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and chief financial officer/director of finance at Prairie Band Casino & Resort, I know first-hand that tribal nations have been limited with the economic development opportunities that reside within defined reservation boundaries. Therefore, the advent of Class II and Class III gaming operations on reservations presented a real opportunity for tribes to raise capital and strengthen their communities. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 stipulates that a tribal nation must have land in trust status prior to 1988, and complete a state compact with the state that they reside in to conduct Class III Gaming. Further, the state must already be involved in gaming, and in this case any major lottery qualifies a state.
In my last blog post, I expounded on the value of Excel 2013’s new feature: PowerPivot. However, this new feature has a secret weapon that makes PowerPivot even more valuable for the power Excel user. DAX is easily the best feature of PowerPivot. DAX stands for Data Analysis Expressions. DAX formulas are created in the PowerPivot window using the xVelocity in-memory analytical engine, which executes DAX code. DAX enables the Excel user to create formulas that consist of more advanced calculations that work on data stored in multiple tables. The use of DAX formulas also supports the creation of self-service business intelligence solutions in Excel.
There are two types of DAX formulas: calculated column and calculated fields (also known as measures). In order to understand DAX formulas and their capabilities you have to understand the term evaluation context. In any DAX formula, the evaluation context is applied first in the formula and then the aggregation takes place on the evaluated context. Context is what makes it possible to perform dynamic analysis with DAX formulas.
It is filing season and landowners receiving natural gas royalty payments may be shocked by their tax liability if they have not been planning with their CPAs. Landowners who sign a lease with a gas company own a royalty interest. When royalty income is received, the landowner is entitled to depletion. Similar to depreciation, depletion is the cost recovery of a natural resource and, in the case of royalty owners, natural gas. It is provided for by IRC §611 and the rules governing it are IRC § 613 and 613A.
The Internal Revenue Service provides for two methods:
Cost depletion - allows the taxpayer a deduction based on the ratio of units sold to the number of units available at the end of the year plus the units sold during the year.
Percentage depletion - allows the taxpayer a deduction based on the gross income of the gas producing property.
A wise man once said to seek the advice of people that have been there before you. When employment numbers among forensic accountants are projected to expand at an average rate of 9.6% per year through 2018, the need for CPAs experienced in forensics has never been greater. The AICPA has launched the CFF® Mentor Program to meet the demand of CPAs looking for a formal mentoring program to continue their growth and expand their knowledge within forensic accounting.
With 2013 in our rear view mirror, many want to know what the merger and acquisition marketplace will look like in 2014. I have been involved in anywhere from 75 to 100 M&A deals a year over the last 4-5 years, and over 1000 deals since 1990. My firm’s involvement may include deals which we develop ourselves, or deals in which we are brought in to consult upon.
As a CPA and a power Excel user, my goal in Excel has always been to create useful reports and analysis for audit documentation as well as to meet my client’s need for information and reports. I quickly discovered that the best tool in Excel to meet my goals was to learn and master the capabilities of pivot tables. Learning pivot tables has increased my efficiency in almost every project that I have worked on and has been the tool I most often turn to in order to complete projects in a timely manner.
As great as pivot tables are they do have limitations, for example pivot tables do not work with data sets larger than one million rows. Pivot tables also can only work on one data set at a time. If I want to create a single report from multiple data sets, I must use V-Lookup formulas. If I want to perform calculations in my pivot table, I must use Calculated Items and Calculated Fields, which are cumbersome to work with and are not well supported by the Microsoft team.
Many nonpublic companies have looked to the Financial Accounting Standards Board – through the creation of the Private Company Council – to examine the existing accounting standards and make recommendations for alternative approaches to financial reporting.
Based on the PCC recommendations, the FASB has now issued two Accounting Standards Updates, one standard provides simplified accounting alternatives for accounting for goodwill, the other for applying hedge accounting to certain plain vanilla interest rate swaps (which is explicitly not available to financial institutions) and have others in the pipeline for release. Financial institutions may want to proceed cautiously before moving forward with adoption of any of the PCC alternatives.
How do we stay motivated to continue to get a full night’s sleep, hydrate and enforce good habits when the pressures of work and the reality of deadlines, client demands and day-to-day fire drills become overwhelming? Long hours of winter busy season don’t allow for extra time to take care of our physical well being. Our daily workouts are replaced with early morning or late night staff meetings. Saturday afternoon pickup basketball games at the YMCA are just a fond memory. The only thing worse than going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark is dealing with the bitter winter weather in between.
Like many small employers with under 50 full-time equivalent employees, I thought my company would be relatively unaffected by the Affordable Care Act. I was surprised to discover that my company Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangement is legal, but is now completely unworkable.
I have offered for several years to full-time employees a standalone HRA for which they get pre-tax reimbursements for out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance premiums, up to the annual predetermined dollar limit. HRAs generally fall under Code Section 105(b) and are considered employer self-insured accident or health plans. By design, HRA plans have dollar limits on annual and lifetime benefits provided to participants. However, to be a qualified group health plan in 2014, the plan must provide minimum essential health benefits without annual or lifetime dollar limits. My company’s HRA fails to meet this basic requirement.
Since Statement on Standards for Valuation Services No.1 was released in June of 2007, I have received numerous questions about when SSVS No. 1 applies. It is important to note that all AICPA members are required to follow all AICPA standards, and many state boards of accountancy require CPAs to follow AICPA standards as well.
SSVS No. 1 was promulgated for one reason: To protect the public and the reputation of CPAs. Before SSVS No. 1, both CPAs and non-CPAs would tell their clients the value of their business based on what amounted to a rule of thumb measurement. The client would then rely on that number for tax returns, transactions, employee stock ownership plans and many other purposes, sometimes with negative consequences for their own clients.
At the beginning of a new year, many people create lists of resolutions or goals for the future. Just like you, companies make resolutions, too. Sometimes companies devise intricate ways to monitor and measure results against these goals. Yet, even with these seemingly adequate preparations in place, one continues to hear and read about project failures with nearly 50 percent of enterprise system implementation projects deemed failures. After a poor go-live, there is plenty of finger-pointing, usually at the external implementation and vendor team. But, from my perspective, there is also a significant amount of blame that should be shared by the user organization.
So as a CPA and consultant, I would like to offer some resolutions for companies to keep when implementing a new computer system or undertaking an upgrade effort. These resolutions are based on an aggregation of observations during my work troubleshooting and resolving problems after the fact, and are not unique to any one client experience but are common to many engagements.
The firm I work for, RubinBrown, prides itself on supporting small business. Our three offices are in America’s heartland – St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver. As an accountant, auditor and adviser for Main Street, private company financial reporting has always been an important issue to us. So, of course, last June we were excited to see the AICPA release its Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities. We quickly put in place a strategy to offer FRF for SMEsTM-based financial statement preparation to our clients who do not need GAAP-based financial statements.
For me, seeing what works for others and how they accomplish their goals helps me figure out an efficient and effective path for my own initiatives. If you are interested in expanding your firm’s services and serving your clients by using the FRF for SMEs, you may find our firm’s approach and experiences informative.
Spoiler Alert: This blog post contains spoilers if you have not seen the first episode of season four of “Downton Abbey.”
“Downton Abbey,” the British period drama that takes place in the early 1900s, has made death taxes… fun. If you are not familiar with the show, I will set it up for you. The Crawleys are part of the British aristocracy as the Earl and Countess of Grantham. Robert Crawley is the fifth Earl of Grantham and has only one heir, Matthew Crawley. Matthew is Robert’s third cousin, once removed (at this time in history, women still could not inherit property or title). In season three, Matthew marries Mary, Robert’s daughter, to keep the estate, title and money in Robert’s direct line of descent. Almost immediately after the birth of Matthew and Mary’s son, Matthew dies in a car accident.
As 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.”
“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.
Currently, 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.
What 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.
Under the Volcker rule, ownership interests in covered funds (in other words, investments) will not be permissible and will have to be divested by 2015. Ownership interests in covered funds subject to the Volcker rule include many pooled trust preferred collateralized debt obligations, certain collateralized loan obligations and possibly Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits. At this conjuncture, the full scope of investments impacted is unknown.
One of the New Year’s superstitions says that you should eat black-eyed peas for good luck and financial prosperity. If you (or your client) are a business owner who hates black-eyed peas, don’t worry. You got a bit of luck already. In issuing the final tangible property (aka repair) regulations, I believe the IRS went above and beyond to make the final regulations more taxpayer friendly and tried to reduce the administrative burden from the draft regulations.
When a business buys equipment for their business, it may qualify for an immediate tax savings by expensing the full purchase price instead of depreciating it over its useful lives (e.g., the section 179 deduction and 100% bonus depreciation). However, these options have restrictions. For example, the section 179 deduction requires taxable income and imposes an overall deduction ceiling and the bonus depreciation has a new property requirement (e.g., refurbished assets are not eligible). With well thought out planning, businesses can maximize the tax savings using both options.
A new standard establishing how private companies account for goodwill is not expected to cause immediate challenges for valuation specialists, but the impact could be more significant if the new rules are adopted for public companies down the road.
The standard is the work of the Private Company Council, an advisory group to the Financial Accounting Standards Board formed last year to address possible necessary changes to U.S. GAAP for non-issuers. On Nov. 25, the FASB endorsed a PCC proposal to provide alternative accounting for goodwill by private companies. Goodwill typically arises from business combinations. In financial reporting, goodwill is the residual amount remaining after the fair values of all identified assets acquired less liabilities assumed have been subtracted from the acquisition price.
Olympic athletes generally train every day – continuously monitoring their progress to make sure they're performing to the best of their abilities. Can you imagine an Olympic athlete training once a year and then trying to compete against those who kept to a strict, regimented training schedule? Like top athletes, successful businesses need to keep a constant pulse on how they're doing so they can address what's working and what needs to be tweaked – in order to always be on top of their game.
Companies can add value to their activities by utilizing Continuous Auditing and Monitoring, which is supported by tools and programs that can assist in mitigating risks and detecting fraud. Additionally, Continuous Auditing and Monitoring provides a powerful deterrent to those tempted to commit fraud, as these functions can take place frequently or continuously throughout the year.
Certainly, the primary reason service organizations undergo a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 examination is to respond to customer demands. Although waiting until the customer asks may make good business sense, proactively undergoing the examination can offer the service organization many benefits. Yet even with the inherent benefits, the SSAE 16 examination can be difficult to sell to executive management. Here are the top five reasons those managers should choose to undergo an SSAE 16 examination.
CPAs are no strangers to life-long learning. In fact, life-long learning is as fundamental of a core competency for CPAs as integrity, independence and objectivity.
This country has hundreds of thousands of CPAs who every day commit themselves to professional development and improving their professional competency. However, when a CPE reporting deadline approaches, you will find CPAs everywhere scrambling to fulfill their compliance requirements.
Your professional development is important, so make it a priority and put an end to the mad dash. Start by asking yourself the following questions to begin creating a plan.
Everyone 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:
If 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.
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.
What 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.
I 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.
As 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:
More 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
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.
Where do attorneys turn when they need to make a compelling
case on a critical financial issue? That question can be answered by
considering what kind of expert witness they employ. In a recent compilation of accounting expert witnesses who
have been mentioned in court opinions or decisions in 2013, the vast majority
were CPAs. (Disclaimer: The article
was by Ashish Arun with Expert Witness Profiler. AICPA FVS
Section Members receive a discount to Expert Witness Profiler, but we
were not involved in this study.) Among the 189 accounting experts cited, 166 were CPAs. For those with specialized
credentials on top of the CPA, the AICPA’s credentials were clearly preferred
over those of other credentialing organizations. The Certified in Financial Forensics
credential took the number two spot at 58 experts and the Accredited in Business
Valuation credential took number three with 54 testifying experts. The CVA at
31, CFE at 30 and the ASA at 18 were well behind the AICPA credentials on this
The final episode of “Breaking Bad” is here. But I don’t
want to discuss what happens in the finale or even this season. Instead, I
want to focus on the tax implications of what Walter White and his alter ego Heisenberg
have done. (SPOILER ALERT: There are no spoilers contained herein from any
episodes airing in 2013, but there may be some if you haven’t caught up to the
Tennessee's "crack tax" (struck down as
unconstitutional not long after its creation) notwithstanding, the Internal Revenue
Service has a history of charging those involved in illegal activities with tax
evasion. Al Capone and Soviet Spy Aldrich Ames both were charged with tax
evasion after they did not report the money made from their illegal activities.
After all, the IRS instructs taxpayers to report any illegal activity income on
line 21 of the Form 1040, where other income is reported. So in reality,
someone committing crimes and earning revenue for this activity could avoid tax
evasion charges by reporting it on line 21. But then of course you've just
admitted to conducting illegal activities. While technically confidential
between you and the IRS, the common belief is that the IRS will find a way to
alert the authorities, either through disclosure in an audit or
interdepartmental alliance. So, most people don't report their illegal
activities, don't incur tax and go on tax-free until they get caught.
Whether you were the auditor or the management in charge of an audit and even if you’ve tried to forget it, I’m sure you remember your first audit. Do you remember how long it took? A couple of hours? A few weeks? What was it like for the audit team to get all the data together? A picnic, right? I could be wrong, but I’m going to guess that’s not likely.
Imagine a world where it only takes 10 minutes to gather company data. Imagine putting standards and processes in place that could provide you with the data you need today. You may think that’s impossible, but we’ve seen it done. Whether it is for internal analysis, external audits, or company oversight, it is becoming increasingly important to obtain data on demand. With the help of the AICPA’s new, non-authoritative audit data standards, this is now possible.
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Audit data standards are non-authoritative, uniform standards developed by the AICPA’s Assurance Services Executive Committee’s Emerging Assurance Technologies Task Force. The newly-released base standard, general ledger standard and accounts receivable subledger standard seek to increase audit efficiency and facilitate automation and enhancements in the analysis of business information.
In a pilot, run by Hewlett-Packard Company, internal audit staff was able to whittle a two-week data gathering process down to a mere 5-10 minutes. By mapping their general ledger data maintained in their enterprise resource planning system to the audit data standards, HP was able to shrink the data gathering timeframe down to the time it takes to check your morning email.
This blog post provides details and a background on audit data standards and, in this video from the AICPA’s spring governing Council meeting, I explain more about the HP pilot program’s success.
The AICPA and its task forces, like those driven by the Assurance Services Executive Committee, are committed to developing new technologies that will contribute to the effectiveness, timeliness and efficiency of the audit process. Those task forces include the Continuous Assurance Working Group, Audit Data Standards Working Group and Sustainability Assurance and Advisory Task Force. Audit data standards are just one piece of the puzzle but with the right innovative thinking and change management, the end result could revolutionize the audit process, open the doors to new service offerings and change the way CPAs work for the better.
If the future of data gathering is shrunken down to 10 minutes, what could be next? The possibilities are endless…
William R. Titera, CPA, Partner - Professional Practice - Auditing, EY.He is the Chair of the AICPA’s Assurance Services Executive Committee and is the current chair of ASEC’s Emerging Assurance Technologies task force.
scenario: On the hunt for additional funds to jumpstart their
business, a potential client comes to you. The CEO has just visited the local
bank, but the bank manager will not agree to lend the needed funds without assurance
on the business’ ability to generate profits. Now, the potential client is at
your doorstep asking if you can provide assurance.
you say. Your firm provides assurance services that instill confidence and
assist clients in making insightful decisions. Here’s the thing: your prospect has
no background on assurance services. Where do you begin to explain?
Throughout history, our returning veterans have always faced
challenges. However, recent reports have troubled
me, showing that returning vets are facing more challenges than ever before.
to a March 2013 study published by the Institutes of Medicine at the request of Congress, almost
half of the 2.2 million troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan report difficulties
on their return home.
Waste costs money. Companies lose money on wasted time, wasted effort and wasted material to the tune of millions of dollars per year.
Conversely, removing waste saves money. And when it comes to keeping things on the right side of the ledger, it's far better to keep track of money saved than money wasted.
The Lean approach, especially as refined by long practice at Toyota and other manufacturers, systematically removes waste, frees up company resources, and increases a company's chance at long-term success. Money saved through Lean transformations can go toward capturing more market share, for instance, by improving existing products or developing new products for new markets.
Maybe it’s an inherent competitiveness
or just the pursuit of improvement, but it is commonplace for people to seek
out benchmarks that they can use to assess their relative position or
performance. It interests people to know how they compare to their peers.
Benchmarks have a place in business, too, and can be an invaluable instrument
to help business owners succeed.
Equipped with an intimate knowledge of
their clients’ finances, accountants are uniquely positioned to help their
business clients think strategically to achieve success. With assistance from
accurate and relevant data, accountants can help their business clients by comparing
their financial performance to the performance of their peers. This ability to effectively
benchmark is one way to
transition from a quarterly tax specialist to a trusted business adviser.
Assuming that accountants are able
to get their hands on reliable industry data,
it becomes necessary to isolate a few specific metrics that will be especially
useful across industries. While different industries and companies measure
success in their own unique ways, a few metrics are almost universally
indicative of a company’s financial health.
Tax-related identity theft is a multi-billion dollar business that may be affecting you and your clients. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world. It can affect your credit and tax records and your earnings record—a criminal record may even be established in your name. No one is immune.
Identity theft that affects your credit record has been around for decades; however in the past 10 years, tax-related identity theft has seen an explosive rise. The statistics are staggering. A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration indicated that during the 2011 filing season, 1.5 million fraudulent returns went undetected and refunds totaling $5.2 billion were issued to the wrong person.
In view of the changes brought about by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, estate planning has taken on a new complexion. With the portability rules and the applicable estate tax exclusion of $5,250,000 (indexed for inflation) being made permanent, ATRA has not taken away the need for estate planning; rather, it has changed what CPAs now need to plan for. Most CPAs working in the area of estate planning are shifting focus to asset protection, enhanced generational transfers and portability.
AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, stated this video to AICPA members that the primary purpose of estate planning is to financially protect and provide for loved ones. This same sentiment was echoed by Jean-Luc Bourdon in a previous blog post, Tax Planning Complexity Can Provide Growth for Your Firm. The message is clear: CPAs need to shift from estate tax planning to estate planning.
One of the
challenges that management and auditors face is obtaining accurate data in a
usable format following a repeatable process. That’s why the AICPA’s Assurance
Services Executive Committee’s Emerging Assurance Technologies Task
Force seeks to increase audit efficiency by developing the following voluntary,
uniform audit data
standard, general ledger standard and accounts receivable subledger standard.
These non-authoritative audit data standards present
a new way of optimizing efficiency and effectiveness in reporting and assurance
by facilitating automation and enhancements in the analysis of business
information. In addition, audit data standards identify the key information
needed for audits and provide a common framework covering:
data file definitions and technical
data field definitions and technical
supplemental questions and data validation
routines to help users better understand the data and assess its completeness
benefit from their use? A number of stakeholders, from internal and external
auditors to software vendors. Let’s discuss.
In July, 2013, I left public accounting and joined the AICPA
as program manager for the Forensic and Valuation Services Section. As part of
my introduction, the AICPA sent me back to school. I attended the National
Business Valuation School from July 15 to 19 in New York. BV School is an
intense five-day training program focused on theories, applications, best
practices and controversies in business valuations.
For some of my 24 classmates, BV School was their first exposure
to valuation education. For others like me, the course was a great
comprehensive refresher on the complete Accredited in Business Valuation Body
of Knowledge. Some were already practicing in the valuation area and took
the course in preparation for the ABV exam. The Roadmap
to the ABV Credential recommends BV School as one of several choices for
During the three decades of my academic career, many
industries have been transformed by the phenomenal changes in technology and
globalization. But in my industry– higher education – there have been mainly
beneficial effects of technology and globalization, with no major disruption to
the basics of academic life. The way I spent my first days as a rookie
Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California is remarkably
similar to the life I am leading now as a chaired full professor at the
University of Arkansas’ Walton College of Business.
The increased complexity of individual taxation and the overall personal finance environment is leading many CPA firms to explore ways to address areas where tax planning overlaps with retirement planning, estate planning and other personal finance areas. This approach delivers great value, creates new firm revenues and increases competitiveness.
As Barry Melancon, AICPA president and CEO recently noted in a video to AICPA members, the need for tax planning that integrates personal finance concerns is critical. Clients have many questions about how the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and the new Medicare surtax affect them, in particular. The retirement savings crisis is getting national media attention and threatens the financial security of Americans. Post-ATRA, the estate tax may affect only a small number of clients, lessening the focus on planning to reduce taxes and refocusing estate planning on its primary purpose, which is protecting loved ones through asset protection, asset titling, beneficiary designations and more.