Senior Manager, Media Relations American Institute of CPAs Born and raised in New York City, James graduated from Tulane University with a BA in Sociology and English minor. In his role on the media relations team, he scours the news for articles relevant to the accounting profession and the finance industry. From the front page of the New York Times to obscure blogs in the back corners of the Internet, James finds the news CPAs need to know and shares it with them through the AICPANews Twitter account. He does proactive media outreach, tracks, analyzes and reports on the AICPA’s media activity and manages the AICPA’s Press Center.
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced that the application period for this year’s Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop (ASLW) is now open. The Workshop, now in its 21st year, is an invitational program for minority accounting students who plan to pursue the CPA license.
The Workshop will feature interactive programs, speakers and panel discussions aimed at improving attendees’ professional skills while highlighting the many career benefits of earning the CPA license. Sessions will cover issues such as strategies for passing the CPA exam, navigating corporate culture, financial literacy, and thinking like an entrepreneur
The AICPA’s CPA Outlook Index (CPAOI) fell four points in the first quarter, the first time the Index has dropped in more than two years. The Index, which polls chief executive officers, chief financial officers and controllers, found these executives were tempering their expectations for profit, revenue and expansion in the coming year.
Optimism about those key performance indicators still remains high, but the survey found a decline in sentiment since last quarter. The one survey measure to rise from the previous quarter was sentiment about the US economy, which found that 68 percent of respondents are now optimistic about the U.S. economy, a new high for the survey.
The AICPA Legacy Scholars Program will provide more than 100 scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year, totaling more than $380,000, to deserving undergraduate and graduate accounting students from across the nation. New this year is a more convenient, streamlined application process which allows students to fill out a single application for all four AICPA Legacy Scholarship awards.
“The AICPA has a long history of investing in the future of the profession by awarding scholarships to highly qualified accounting students,” said Joanne Fiore, AICPA vice president, professional media, pathways and inclusion.
Since 2011, the Institute has been awarding annual scholarships under the AICPA Legacy Scholars program umbrella, expanding the financial award to add a service component. The service aspect of the program is designed to help students develop the soft skills, including leadership and communications, needed to maintain a successful career. Scholarship recipients plan, promote and execute an eight-hour service project each semester. The service activity must relate to accounting, serve the community and be meaningful to the student.
“Our AICPA Legacy Scholars program helps students defray the cost of their education, while helping instill a commitment to public service that the accounting profession is known for,” Fiore added.
AICPA Legacy Scholars are Student Affiliate Members of the AICPA, a free membership option available to all currently enrolled college students. Each AICPA Legacy Scholar is assigned a coach to help guide the student’s service project and offer advice on questions related to the accounting profession.
Scholarship funding is provided by contributions from the AICPA Foundation, Robert Half International, Accountemps, the New Jersey Society of CPAs, the Accounting Education Foundation of the Texas Society of CPAs and the Virgin Islands Society of CPAs.
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced that students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas have earned first place in the 2014 AICPA Accounting Competition.
AccountingWeb reports that the UNLV team’s top finish in the competition earned a $5,000 award for their school. Students from North Carolina State University placed second, taking home $3,000 for their university. The third-place team from the University of Southern Indiana earned $2,000 for their school.
In addition, each of the three finalist teams received a $10,000 award to be split among the team members. All of the awards are funded by the AICPA Foundation.
Yesterday, the AICPA announced the results of the fourth quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey. The survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs who hold senior management accounting roles, found higher expectations for profits, revenue and expansion in the coming year.
Some 64 percent of survey takers now report that they are optimistic about prospects for the U.S. economy over the next 12 months. That is up from 52 percent last quarter and 38 percent a year ago.
As Politico reports, the survey found that respondents are actually slightly more optimistic about their own companies’ prospects (67 percent, up 2 percentage points from last quarter), with 71 percent saying they expect their business to expand in the coming year.
CPAs provide tremendous value in the area of financial planning by helping clients understand changes in laws, as well as trends which can affect their bottom line. Serving as trusted advisors, CPAs who work in personal financial planning are able to tailor their advice to meet the changing needs of their clients in an ever fluctuating economy.
Below are a few recent media articles highlighting the guidance of CPAs.
If you have an eligible health insurance policy with at least a $1,250 deductible -- or $2,500 for family coverage -- you can contribute to a health savings account, said Love. You can contribute up to $3,300 in 2014 if you have individual coverage, or $6,550 for family coverage (plus $1,000 if 55 or older). Contributions are tax-deductible (or pretax) and can be used tax-free for medical expenses in any year.
Newsday reports that, with mortgage rates hovering around 4 percent, many Americans are considering purchasing a home. However, it is important to not rush to a lender until you're creditworthy. The best way to do that is to raise your credit score. AICPA member Kelley Long, CPA/PFS, advised that not applying for other loans or opening new credit cards would be one way to avoid damaging your credit score. In addition, not closing cards is a prudent step, because it reduces your available credit and therefore boosts the percentage of available credit your other cards represent.
A recent FoxBusiness.com article relied upon the expertise of two CPAs to shed light on the havoc financial fraud can cause the elderly. “If you’re 20 [years old] and something happens to you financially, you have a long time to make a difference “If you’re older and not able to go back to work and recover, having fraud perpetrated on you can significantly change the rest of your life,” said Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS.
It can be difficult for those who are worried about their elders to gain more insight into their financial decisions to help prevent fraud, but Leonard Wright, CPA/PFS advises that effective communication can help break through. “There are ways to communicate with the elderly so they don’t feel like you’re taking over, said Wright. “Tell your elderly loved ones that you can get a second opinion with finances just like you do with doctors.” This could also mean explaining the importance of calling another family member before sending any money to a third party or agreeing to a new contract, credit card or investment.
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced the 2014 Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop graduating class. The Workshop, an annual invitational event now in its 20th year, is open to ethnically diverse accounting and finance majors who plan to pursue the CPA license.
The 114 students selected for this year’s Workshop successfully completed the two-day program, which strengthened their professional and leadership skills, while highlighting the career possibilities becoming a CPA affords. The AICPA Foundation covers all program costs, which include the student attendees’ transportation, hotel accommodation, and meals.
“I am confident that the life lessons learned at ASLW will benefit these students and will help them immensely along their path to becoming CPAs,” said Kim Drumgo, AICPA director of diversity and inclusion and Vice Chair of the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.
Each year, the AICPA honors our members and other key stakeholders for their contributions to the accounting profession.
In this post, I’ve highlighted a number of recent awards and the impressive contributions of those who have earned them.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, CPA, was honored with the Outstanding CPA in Government Impact Award: State Level. The award recognizes CPAs working in state government who have contributed significantly to increased efficiency and effectiveness of government organizations and to the growth and enhancement of the CPA profession.
To lessen the financial difficulties Michigan was going through, Governor Snyder infused his administration with a sense of urgency, saying he wanted to accomplish four years of policy reforms in his first year and then maintain that pace. Under Governor Snyder's leadership, Michigan has eliminated its $1.5 billion structural deficit and produced three balanced budgets. Read more in this CPA Practice Advisor article.
The role of finance teams is expanding well beyond traditional accounting and financial reporting to encompass areas such as IT development, cyber security and strategic business planning. That’s according to a recent survey of CEOs, CFOs and other senior level Chartered Global Management Accountant designation holders. In addition to growth in the role of accounting and finance, the survey - conducted by the AICPA - found that business complexity has been increasing significantly, a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years.
Summer was always thought of as the time for sunny days at the beach, BBQs and bonfires. But these days most American adults equate summer with financial anxiety, according to a recent telephone survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Poll.
According to the survey, about 6 in 10 U.S. adults (59 percent) said their financial tension during the summer matches or exceeds the stress they feel during the year-end holiday season. The AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission has been reaching consumers with tips to help them alleviate the stress of summer by making smart financial decisions.
The deadline to file your 2013 taxes – or file for an extension – passed earlier this week. What’s the significance of that? It’s time to think about planning for the 2014 filing season.
As many CPAs will tell you – taxes are something to consider year round. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are best positioned to pay no more than you owe is by being meticulously organized throughout the year. Enterpreneur.com recently posted an article suggesting some technology tools that will keep you organized in advance of next tax season – and no, a shoebox to hold all your receipts is not one of them.
The AICPA recently released the results of the first quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which found business executives reporting a more favorable view on hiring and business expansion in the coming year. One of the motivating factors of this is an increased optimism about the U.S. economy as a whole.
Fox Business coverage of the survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs who hold executive and senior management accounting roles in U.S. companies, noted that just under half of respondents (49 percent) are feeling optimistic or very optimistic about the U.S. economy. Only 38 percent of executives felt equally positive last quarter.
In addition, the AICPA has created a new scholarship for students who have earned a finance-related associates degree and declared their intent to major in accounting at a four-year college or university. The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship will provide $1,000 to five qualified recipients.
The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship joins the AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship, AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship, and AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students to comprise the AICPA Legacy Scholars program.
I 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.
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.
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.
The first graduates from the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program taught their first semester of college accounting courses this fall. The ADS Program, which was designed to address the nationwide shortage of accounting faculty, has supported more than110 audit and tax professionals in their pursuit of PhDs in accounting. The first 12 graduates of the program have obtained jobs on college campuses.
“Having the first Accounting Doctoral Scholars begin teaching undergraduates is a real milestone for both the program and the profession as a whole,” said Steve Matzke, Director of Faculty and University Initiatives at the AICPA, who has managed the ADS Program since its launch. “While there is still more work to be done, we are confident that the ADS Program will ultimately fulfill its mission of helping secure the future of the profession by incrementally increasing the current number of accounting faculty who hold PhDs.”
As the calendar turns to December, AICPA experts have been speaking to reporters to educate the public about tax moves they can make before the end of the year. A number of these tips involve tax breaks that will either expire, or whose futures are uncertain and the steps that businesses, individuals and homeowners can take now to save themselves money when they file their 2013 return.
According to Porter, one of the most important of the temporary tax provisions set to expire after 2013 is the 50 percent bonus depreciation, which was enacted as part of economic-stimulus legislation.
“Let’s say you’re a CFO, and you know you need to purchase a million-dollar piece of equipment. If you purchase it before the end of the year, you can get a $600,000 write-off in the first year,” says Porter.
As part of an ongoing effort to inspire, nurture and empower the next generation of CPA leaders, the AICPA established the Leadership Academy in 2009 to provide rising stars in the profession with advanced leadership training and access to well-connected professional networks.
The AICPA held the fall meeting of its governing Council last week. The big news out of the meeting in L.A. was, of course, Bill Balhoff being named the AICPA’s 101st Chairman. In addition to Bill being named chairman, which is the highest AICPA volunteer position, a number of AICPA members were honored at the Council meeting for their contributions to the profession and the Institute.
Medal of Honor
Bob Graham, former U.S. Senator and former Florida Governor, was awarded the AICPA Medal of Honor, which recognizes an individual whose work has had a significant impact on the profession. The medal of honor is the highest AICPA award for a non-CPA.
“Senator Graham has served as an ambassador between the CPA profession and the American public, helping the AICPA Board chart the Institute’s course and the profession’s growth with the needs of all citizens in mind,” said Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA, AICPA Chairman of the Board of Directors (2012-2013).
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.
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.
Twitter has increasingly become the go-to place for industry news. Recently I sat down with James Schiavone, AICPA media relations manager and the brains behind the @AICPANews Twitter account, to discuss what he has learned from managing this thriving social media channel.
Q) The @AICPANews account was stated in March of 2009. More than 3,500 tweets and 17,000 followers later, what have you learned?
It is--and has been--a
tough time to look for a job in the United States (unless, of course, you are an accounting graduate). However, there may be some hope on the
horizon for the legions of unemployed.
still expressing caution--continue to raise their expectations for hiring in
the coming year. That’s according to the third quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, a survey of 1,228 CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs in U.S.
companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.
The CPA Outlook Index—a
comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the survey—remained unchanged
from last quarter at 69 points. The index is a composite of nine, equally
weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral
and greater numbers signifying positive sentiment.
I dislike going to the doctor – who doesn’t? However, in recent years
I’ve found that I dislike the confusion I feel when I attempt to understand the
vagaries of my healthcare provider’s policies even more. While
understanding the policies can be frustrating, not understanding the basic
terms of health insurance plans can lead to bad decision making and wasted
dollars. And, unfortunately, a recent
AICPA survey found that many Americans don’t understand these
The telephone survey, conducted late last month for the AICPA by Harris Interactive, found
that more than half, 51 percent of respondents, could not accurately identify
at least one of three common health insurance terms: premium, deductible and
A third, 34 percent, thought a premium was an expense at the time
of receiving medical service or a prescription; more than a quarter, 27
percent, thought a copay was the cost of obtaining insurance; and 12 percent
did not know a deductible is the money one pays before an insurance company
“Half of Americans would fail health insurance 101,” said Ernie
Almonte, CPA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission.
A recent AccountingWEB article by Deanna White highlighted the
steps the AICPA is taking to develop more female leaders in the accounting
"If you look at people coming up in
the ranks over the last thirty years, 50 percent of the people in the
profession are women but only 19 percent of leadership in the accounting and
finance professions right now is female," says Mary L. Bennett, chair of
the AICPA Women's
Initiatives Executive Committee and founder of MLBennett Consulting LLC.
that there is a perception that more female leadership in the accounting
profession is an issue that will take care of itself - but that's not the case.
There’s nothing like a personal financial incentive to challenge undergraduate students across the country to test their personal financial planning skills. The American Institute of CPA’s fourth annual AICPA Accounting Competition opened earlier this week, with teams competing for a $10,000 top award and second and third place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.
The competition underscores the important role CPAs serve as financial planners at a time when young adults are dealing with crippling student loan debt and maxed out credit cards.
I spoke with Erin Curtis, AICPA manager, College Student Recruitment & Engagement, to find out some inside information about this year’s competition and what CPAs can do to help spread the word about the great opportunities a career in accounting provides.
I’m writing this blog post from the AICPA’s E.D.G.E
Conference in Austin, Texas. E.D.G.E. is an opportunity for CPAs to gain management and leadership skills, while networking
with leaders of the profession and discussing emerging issues. And since the
conference is aimed at CPAs and practitioners with 5-15 years of experience,
I’ve had an opportunity to speak to a number of younger AICPA members about the
opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in their careers. My colleague and
friend Heather O’Connor has posted a couple of great live blogs from
the conference and there are a lot of
tweets on the #AICPA_EDGE hashtag you can
check out to get a better sense of the content in the sessions.
Conferences are a great place to meet
likeminded CPAs, learn about the issues facing the profession and help navigate
the next steps in one’s career. Can’t make it to a conference this year? No
worries, the AICPA has announced the launch of the Young CPA Network Community to
help young CPAs enjoy many of the benefits of conference attendance from the
comfort of their laptop or mobile device – like networking and career
Throughout my career in communications, I’ve sought out every opportunity to develop the skills that will hopefully help me become an effective leader in the future. Almost all of the dedicated and successful professionals I know - in every field - have done the same. Some people, like Derek Jeter and Winston Churchill, are viewed as being great natural leaders – the kind of individuals who can motivate and bring out the best in the people around them. But the vast majority of individuals – even successful leaders - have needed a little guidance along the way to develop and refine the qualities that may eventually allow them to help steer their organizations to great heights.
To help develop the future leaders of the accounting profession, the AICPA recently announced the 2013 Leadership Academy class. This group of 38 rising stars will attend the 5th annual Leadership Academy, held in Durham, N.C. this fall. The five day program will be an opportunity for participants to learn leadership theory and strategic planning techniques, while developing tools for handling complex management challenges.
As a recent article in Accounting Today notes, CPA leaders, including AICPA Chairman Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA, and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, the Institute’s president and CEO will engage the participants, all under the age of 36, and discuss the issues currently facing the accounting profession.
In addition to promising
demand, the pipeline of future accountants is stronger than ever, with historic
levels of student enrollments in accounting programs and record numbers of
accounting graduates in 2012.
To gain insight into why
accounting is more popular than ever, and to better understand the content of
the Trends report, I sat down with Scott Moore – AICPA Director of Students and
Professional Pathways, who led the effort to compile the Trends report.
James Schiavone: One of the things that really struck me about
the report is that the number of students who are earning their master’s degree
in accounting has doubled in the last ten years. Can you explain why we’ve seen
such a sharp increase?
Just yesterday, The National Association of
that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month,
increased 6.7 percent to 112.3, the highest level since December 2006.
With many people considering
placing their home on the market, a timely Wall
Street Journal article
examined the taxes
and tax breaks available when selling a home. According to Melissa
Labant, director of taxation at the AICPA, these rules can be complicated and
people often misunderstand or don’t take full advantage of the benefits
recent – and I use the word recent liberally – college graduate, one of my few
regrets is that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to spend a summer studying
abroad. I generally excuse this away because I had my hands full juggling my
course work and extracurricular activities and was always eager to return to my
native New York. If I was being honest with myself, the real reason was that I could
never seem to navigate the financial and administrative aspects of applying to
take classes overseas during the summer.
those of you who are still in school and seeking to broaden your horizons,
Michael Eisenberg, a Los Angeles-based
CPA/PFS, recently spoke to U.S.
News & World Report to educate their audience on how to pay
for short study-abroad trips.
article encourages students to look for scholarships and aid to pay for the
parts of a short-term educational trip not eligible for 529 plan funding.
read so many great quotes from CPAs every day and have such a limited space to
summarize them on the blog– it can get to be a bit frustrating. As I began drafting my bi-weekly ‘In the
News’ post, I decided to switch things up this week.
present to you four helpful quotes from CPAs. Hey – everyone can use a little
help now and then.
As Kelli Grant reports in MarketWatch, going to summer camp
may be a rite of passage for children, but for parents, it seems more like an
initiation into the woes of tuition payments.
What parents might not know is
that camp expenses can translate into a tax break.
Americans money stress brought on
by lighter paychecks this year is affecting more than their wallets — it’s
taking a toll on their waistlines, friendships and the amount of sleep they get.
That’s according to results of a new survey fielded for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive in recognition of National
Financial Capability Month.
The telephone survey, conducted between March 14 and March 17,
asked 1,011 U.S. adults to name all the ways financial stress is affecting
their lives. Of those who rate their financial stress “very” or “somewhat
high,” almost half, 47 percent, said they are sleeping less; 43 percent said
they have less patience with friends or are seeing them less often and 31
percent are eating more junk food or gaining weight.
I’ve mentioned previously on this very blog, I am a procrastinator
My ‘to do’ list from January of this year is littered with winter-related items
(two prime examples are ‘purchase warmer jacket’ and ‘book ski trip for
President’s Day weekend’) that I simply didn’t get around to. In those
instances, I can shake my head, let out a self-pitying sigh and put it off
until next year… But if you missed the April 15deadline to file
either your federal income tax return or an extension, you don’t have the
luxury of simply waiting until next year – the time to act is now.
Labant, AICPA director of tax advocacy, speaking to the New
York Times Bucks Blog, advised taxpayers to file as soon as
possible and to avoid falling into the trap of thinking ‘oh, the deadline
passed so there’s no rush now.’
Do you see your
neighbor waiting by the mailbox for their tax refund? Chances are it’s not so
they can use it on a fancy vacation or a new spring wardrobe.
This year, workers
are most likely to save their refund or use the money for day-to-day expenses, according
to a recent survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Interactive for
National Financial Capability Month. And
that refund money is substantial. An
AccountingWEB article on the survey results
states that through March 22, the average refund this tax season is $2,827.
That’s trending slightly lower than this time last year, when the average
individual refund was $2,860.
It’s been more than a month since my
(legendary?) first post of this tax season and there has
been a ton of recent media coverage. In my second tax season post, I’ll share a
few articles for those of you who haven’t filed yet. In addition, I promise to
throw in some good information for people who have their refunds already and
are just rubbernecking.
Once again this year, members of the
AICPA are using their expertise to answer one daily tax question from USA TODAY
readers and help the public understand how to approach some common filing
Thus far, readers have asked questions
regarding the requirements for claiming adult children as dependents and how to
handle the tax implications of rolling over an IRA.
I’m not going to pretend I have extraordinary insight
into the economy, but I do know that February was a very strong month for IPOs and that signs are
pointing to an increase in mergers and
two trends, combined with the fact that business valuation is already one of the fastest growing
‘niche services’ among Accounting Today’s Top 100 firms in both 2012 and 2011 means that this is a great time
to learn more about the AICPA’s Accredited in Business Valuation Credential.
addition to the increase in M&As and IPOs thus far this year, valuation
professionals said they expect to see increased demand for shareholder/partner
disputes, contractual disputes and family law as well as in bankruptcy,
insolvency and reorganization in the next two to five years, according to the 2011 Forensic and Valuation
Services Trend Survey.
Confession time: I am not a
Nobel Prize-winning economist. In fact, I dropped Microeconomics my freshman year
in college after one class and I never looked back. So when I read that the Dow hit an all-time high this
week I wasn’t sure what to think about how the sequester would impact
businesses and the economy overall. And since I like to understand what’s going
on, all of this confusion made me sad.
Luckily for me, the AICPA just released the results of our Q1 Economic Outlook Survey, which polls members who serve
as CEOs, CFOs and controllers as well as other
CPAs in U.S. companies who hold executive positions on their views on the
economy moving forward. And this
quarter, the ‘survey within a survey’ focused specifically on the potential
impact of the sequester on their companies’ business.
As Ruth Mantell reports in MarketWatch, according to the survey results, only 11
percent of the CPAs surveyed believe the massive spending cuts in the sequester
will have a “significant” impact on their companies’ business. Thirty percent
there would be a “slight” impact from the sequester, with an additional 30
percent reporting that the impact on their business would be “minimal.”
wilted flowers and almost empty boxes
of chocolates can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day was last week. According
to some estimates, as many as 200,000 couples across the United
States choose this date to become engaged. Congrats to all the lovebirds out
before these happy couples tie the knot, they’ll need to make sure they’re on
the same page when it comes to their finances – otherwise, problems will likely
reading AICPA Insights, so I can safely assume that you’re interested in
accounting. And since I’m making assumptions, I’m going to assume that you like
to watch TV (hey - all the cool kids are doing it). And since you’ve got an
inquisitive mind, I bet you wonder how networks decide which shows get made and
which shows on TV "make it." Maybe, you got a little fix watching the People’s Choice Awards
last month. And since then, you’ve been twiddling your thumbs as you count down
the days until the Emmys.
Well keep reading, because I have just
the thing for you.
set the scene…The TV industry is booming and each network is in search of “the
next big thing.” At the same time, accounting is in the spotlight as one of the
fastest growing professions. Put the two together, and the network executives
have decided this is a profession that should play a role in their next pilot.
That’s right, it’s the AICPA’s
Competition of Creative Excellence.
The IRS has been accepting tax returns electronically and by mail since Jan. 30, but this Monday marked the official start of tax season, which is defined, for my purposes, as the day after the Super Bowl.
That means that for the next few months, as CPAs around the country are working with their clients to ensure that their returns are submitted correctly and on time, reporters and bloggers will be looking to provide their audiences with articles about all things tax. Therefore, I will be highlighting some more tax content of interest in my bi-weekly ‘in the news’ post. The circle of life, if you will.
know I’m preaching to the choir here, but with the profession’s modest 4.2% unemployment
rate, and a median salary of more than $62,000, there is a lot to like about a
career in accounting.
Rebecca Mahler, manager
of career research at the AICPA, stressed to U.S. News and
World Report how important it is for aspiring accountants to become certified.
"It's really the gold star on the resume," she said. "It's an
invaluable credential, and you get a 10 to 15 percent higher salary."
Most 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.
I initially chose to write a feel-good year-end reflection because that’s what all the cool, popular bloggers on the internet do. And I want to be cool and popular, too. But as I started going back through all the news from 2012, I quickly realized that it was an extremely eventful year, even by the lofty standards established by previous years (I’m looking at you, 2002!). That said, an on-the-go CPA could surely be forgiven if they were too busy to notice the top* four articles, which gave us a reason to smile during the course of the year.
As noted right here on AICPA Insights in March, a survey from Careerbliss.com found that being an accountant is the eighth happiest job in America. Employees were asked to rate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including one's relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and control over the work one does on a daily basis.
In fact, CPA financial executives reported their dimmest view of prospects for the U.S. economy since 2011 in the results of the AICPA’s fourth quarter Economic Outlook Survey. Why so sad? The main reasons cited for increased pessimism are the threat of the looming fiscal cliff, combined with concerns over future sales and profitability.
While optimism has declined over the past three quarters, the fourth quarter survey did not include any silver lining as every major measure of economic expectations fell, both quarter over quarter and year over year.
Following up on those calls for solutions to our nation’s financial problems, Accounting Today reported that the AICPA’s board of directors recently voted to adopt a resolution calling on lawmakers to do more to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the United States by better controlling the growing national debt. One aspect of this resolution involves the AICPA supporting two non-partisan efforts, the Campaign to Fix the Debt and the Comeback America Initiative, both of which align with the AICPA’s goals of putting America on a better path toward fiscal responsibility.
As AccountingWEB notes, the resolution will also be shared with state CPA societies as the AICPA continues to seek ways to advocate for reduced complexity for American businesses and individuals. Stay tuned.
Fall, or autumn if you’re a season snob, is a busy time of year at the AICPA. Earlier this week, we held our Fall 2012 Governing Council Meeting – but you know that already because we’ve coveredall the newsearlier in the week. In addition to The World Series and beautiful foliage, fall is also the time to get proactive and take steps to lower your 2012 tax rate if you haven’t already done so.
This year, it is particularly important for taxpayers to pay close attention to the planning process with the uncertainty surrounding the potential expiration of the Bush tax cuts and many widely-used tax cuts which have not yet been renewed for the 2012 tax year . Susan B. Garland spoke to Melissa Labant,director of taxation at the AICPAabout this issue for a recent article in Kiplinger's Retirement Report focused on this issue.
The article calls attention to the fact that one of the biggest changes on the books for 2013 is a 3.8% surtax on investment income for singles with a modified Adjusted Gross Income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples). The tax applies to the smaller of net investment income or the amount by which taxable income exceeds the thresholds.
David McCann at CFO.com spoke with Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, AICPA SVP of management accounting, about a recent talent management survey for Chartered Global Management Accountants conducted jointly between the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The report found that 43 percent of the CEOs, CFOs and human resource directors surveyed said their companies have missed financial goals in the past 18 months because of inadequacies in human capital management. Almost the same number, 40 percent, indicated that such shortcomings—which could include insufficient systems, processes or management information—have hindered their ability to innovate. “We believe that talent and the human dimension drive business growth and companies haven’t focused enough on that,” said Thomas. “Too many companies look at talent in terms of what they have to do to comply with labor laws and regulations, rather than understanding that it can be a competitive differential.”
With the announcement yesterday that the Federal Reserve is launching a third quantitative easing in an attempt to generate momentum for the stalling recovery, the economy—and unemployment—are back in the spotlight.
The AICPA’s 3rd quarter Economic Outlook Survey results were released last week, which provided insights into the direction of the economy from 1,365 qualified CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies. Their gloom was reflected in last week’s jobs report, which showed the labor market continuing to stagnate and served as one of the reasons behind the Fed’s actions yesterday.