In the News: CPAs Providing Financial Guidance for 2014

New-year-resolution

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

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

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Women and Leadership: The Path Not Yet Taken

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

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Trust But Verify – Another Perspective on Comfort Letters

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy New Year from AICPA Insights

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

CPA Exam Q1/Q2 2014 Score Release Timelines

The AICPA continues to post regular updates regarding the CPA Exam score release schedule in an effort to keep CPA Exam candidates informed. Updated score release timelines are announced twice annually on AICPA Insights and are also posted on the CPA Exam website. To eliminate confusion, candidates can use the table below to easily find their score release dates.

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Being THAT Guy

“When she said ‘I just paid off my student loans,’ I thought, WOW how did she do that. It makes you think what’s important and what’s not.”

“I like the positive role model thing.  I want to be this guy.”

These quotes are just a small sampling of feedback from the Feed the Pig’s target audience (25-34 year olds) after viewing the campaign’s newest PSAs during focus groups held earlier this year. Each TV spot highlights both the positive financial behavior—buying a home, saving in a 401(k) and paying off student loans—of one young adult or couple paralleled with the spending habits of their peers, who simply cannot believe there’s any money left over at the end of the month to save. (View all the new PSAs on the new Feed the Pig website.)

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Accounting Doctoral Scholars Making an Impact in the Classroom

Ads2The 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 than 110 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.” 

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Top Blog Posts of 2013: Vote for Your Favorite

Top-10

As 2013 comes to a close, I thought it would be interesting to see what topics “moved” and “shaked” the CPA profession this year. Specifically, we thought you would be interested in the AICPA Insights blog posts that most resonated with you and your peers, as measured by pageviews. Surprisingly, no one particular topic overly dominated this list. Additionally, most of these blog posts originated in 2013, but one actually went live in 2012 and had enough staying power to carry over to 2013. See our top stories and catch up on the year's news below and then vote for the one you like best, or write in your own top choice!

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Hot Topics and FAQs from the A&A Technical Hotline

The AICPA Technical Hotline provides non-authoritative advice to members on matters of accounting and financial reporting, audit, attest, compilation and review service standards. This podcast, the AICPA Insights Live webcast on Nov. 22, addresses some of the more commonly asked questions over the past year in the areas of audit, attest, compilation and review engagements. Highlights include the new clarified audit standards, verification requests, supplementary information and Service Organization Controls reporting. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website).

Hot Topics and FAQs from the A&A Technical Hotline

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Avoid These Holiday Social Media Scams

Scam-alertAccording to USA Today, the holiday season is a big time for online scams, and this year the focus will be on phones and social media. While most of us can spot spam in our email inbox, social networking scams are becoming more common and aren’t quite as easy to detect. Research shows one in 10 users have fallen for a social media scam. And to be honest with you, I am one of those who have been duped. It seemed so simple: share an image on Instagram, add a hashtag and BAM…free Ray Bans. Needless to say, I never received the sunglasses.  Luckily, I quickly came to my senses and changed my password.

It’s easy to get caught up in a bogus offer, but remember if it seems too easy to be true…it likely is!

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Volcker Rule Could Affect Community Bank's Year End Bottom Line

English: Paul Volcker, former head of the Fede...Paul Volcker, former head of the Federal Reserve Board . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Dec. 10, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission released their rule “Prohibitions and Restrictions on Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in, and Relationships with, Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds,” otherwise known as the Volcker Rule. This rule has some real implications on the banking industry, including community banks, of which CPAs should be aware.

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.

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Final Tangible Property Rules – A Win for Small Business?

Black-eyed-peaOne 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.  

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Does Your Organization's Information Architecture Support Effective Reporting?

Data-analyticsIn order to make the right decisions, you have to have the right information. While that statement seems overly simple, the truth is that many organizations often rely upon the wrong information when making important strategic decisions. The issue of Enabling Decision Support and Analytics was one of the top ten technology initiatives reported by the 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey, a joint effort between the AICPA’s Information Management & Technology Assurance Division and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Sometimes having the right information to make the right decisions does not happen when an organization's information architecture does not support effective reporting or management has not supported an investment in business intelligence-related projects. As a result, management may receive inaccurate or incomplete reports and may be at greater risk of making poorly informed business decisions. The issue of enabling decision support and analytics is a concern for many organizations as better technology can provide more data in less time than ever before. 

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Q&A with Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA President & CEO

Q&AWhat opportunities and challenges does the head of the AICPA foresee for the CPA profession in 2014? What were the profession’s significant achievements in 2013? Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, answers these questions and offers insights on how the profession will continue to adapt to today’s changing environment, addressing clients’ and employer’s needs. Citing successes with regulation, legislation, recruitment and positioning the profession for the future, Barry strongly believes CPAs will build on a solid foundation.

1. What were the AICPA’s legislative or regulatory priorities this past year and what’s in store for 2014?

We continued to have success in the advocacy area in 2013. In one significant victory for the profession and the public, the Securities and Exchange Commission exempted CPAs from registration as municipal advisers when they are providing certain accounting or attest services. We urged the SEC to exempt CPAs from the definition of municipal advisers after it had indicated that anyone performing accounting services for governments would be defined as a “municipal adviser.” It was critical that our voices be heard on this issue because such a broad definition would have made it more difficult for CPAs to serve governments and potential investors without taking on unnecessary and duplicative costs or compliance burdens.

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CPAs in Business and Industry Optimistic for 2014 Revenue Growth

Revenue-growth-2014The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on the past and consider the future. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the latest AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey has inspired me to share some of my reflections and thoughts with you.

Thinking back to the fourth quarter of 2012, CPAs in industry were deeply concerned about the economy, especially with the “fiscal cliff” looming large. Fortunately, we had a last minute resolution to the dilemma on December 31, 2012 and concerns about the overall economy and politics abated somewhat in the first half of 2013. Optimism about the US economy improved, and the number of CPAs saying they were optimistic about their companies and having plans to expand also increased.

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Latest Trends Affecting CPAs

In our last live blog from the 2013 AICPA Insights Live webcast series, Jim Metzler, CPA, AICPA Vice President - Small Firm Interests, Public Practice and Global Alliances, discusses the trends affecting CPAs, the challenges and opportunities practitioners face, as well as best practices being used at successful firms across the country. (Email subscribers: Read the live blog on our website.) Don't forget to register for the last AICPA Insights Live webcast, Worst IT Practices CPAs Can Advise Businesses to Avoid, 1 to 2 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.

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In the News: Year-End Tax Moves for Businesses and Individuals

TaxesAs 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.

Businesses

Jeffrey Porter, chairman of the AICPA’s tax executive committee, spoke to CFO.com about corporate tax provisions which are set to expire after 2013.

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.

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PCC Standards for Goodwill: What Valuation Specialists Need to Know

Valuation-specialists-goodwillA 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.

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10 Things You Should Know About Internal Controls

The following podcast is from the AICPA Insights Live webcast series and covers 10 things one should know about internal controls as presented by Findley Gillespie and Steven Gin of Moss Adams. The list includes: 

  1. Why a Training on Risk and Controls?
  2. Assessing the State of Controls at Your Organization
  3. Controls Maturity across the Three COSO Objectives
  4. Entity-Level Controls
  5. Information Technology Controls
  6. Segregation of Duties Controls
  7. Fraud Prevention Controls
  8. Documenting Policies and Procedures
  9. Responding to Deficiencies
  10. Recognizing Common Deficiencies

10 Things You Should Know About Internal Controls

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Running Your Business Like an Olympic Athlete

Turin-olympic-ice-skatersOlympic 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. 

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Will Your Clients or Customers Pay in Bitcoin?

Alternative Currency Could Change Financial Landscape

In celebration of the AICPA’s 125 anniversary last year, we produced a powerful retrospective called Evolution of a Profession. The six-minute video traced the accounting profession’s changes from its origins 8,000 years ago through the present day.

Within that evolution were the notions of currency and exchange. Over time, society has changed the various ways goods and services are purchased. Hard as it may be to believe, at one point the primary currency was clams. The same is true of livestock, land and spices. All eventually gave way to something else as our forms of money have been “refined” over and over again.

Bitcoin Timeline

  • Jan. 2009 - First Bitcoin transaction
  • Jul. 2013 - Thailand officials declare the currency illegal in all its aspects
  • Aug. 2013 - U.S. federal judge rules Bitcoin is a currency
  • Oct. 2013 - $28 million in Bitcoins seized during raid on an online drug marketplace
  • Nov. 2013 - Cyprus’ largest university says it will accept Bitcoin as payment for tuition and school fees
  • Dec. 2013 - China bans the country’s financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions

Four years ago, a new alternative currency emerged and the accounting profession needs to watch how it develops going forward. It’s a virtual currency known as Bitcoin. Dozens of virtual currencies exist but Bitcoin has garnered the most attention. The news media has been covering the currency in earnest since the spring, including its growing acceptance among businesses and even a foreign university.

What does that mean for our profession? First, if Bitcoin were to become a mainstream currency option, firms would have to consider clients using Bitcoin as a form of payment for services, and a business might want to accept Bitcoins for purchases of its products.  

More broadly, how might financial statement preparation and assurance on those statements need to adapt? Bitcoin is not only a currency, it is also a commodity – one with a finite supply (currently 12 million units and continually increasing to a maximum of 21 million units).  Therefore, depending on the demand for it at any given time, its value could fluctuate wildly – even within the same day. In 2013 alone, a single Bitcoin unit was valued at less than $20 and hit a high of more than $1,000 in late November. So, how would a CPA value that money, and is it even an asset? And since Bitcoin largely operates through online exchanges, it functions outside of the traditional banking system, where balances and transactions can easily be confirmed.  In terms of taxes, the Internal Revenue Service has said Bitcoin transactions could fall under several categories: property, financial instrument, foreign currency or barter.

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The New AICPA Personal Financial Planning Standards

PFP-standards-word-cloudThe increased demand and projected growth of personal financial planning services in areas such as estate, retirement, risk management and investments have brought the accounting profession to an important crossroad. To adapt to an evolving profession and regulatory landscape, in addition to the existing regulatory framework for CPAs, the AICPA is promulgating the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services.

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Year-End Planning: Roth IRA Conversions

The purpose of Roth IRA conversions as it relates to the Net Investment Income Tax is to lower modified adjusted gross income below the threshold amount over the long-term. Some benefits of Roth conversions include lower overall taxable income, tax-free compounding, no required minimum distributions at age 70 ½, tax-free withdrawals for beneficiaries and more effective funding of the "bypass trust." Converting to a Roth IRA creates opportunities to reduce the overall size of the estate and to take advantage of greater tax-free yields and favorable tax attributes. Bob Keebler walks you through the mathematics of conversion through examples, tactical considerations and a four-step process for Roth conversion planning. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post American Taxpayer Relief Act and NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end.

Roth IRA Conversions

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How to Convince Leadership to Undergo an SSAE 16 Examination

SSAE-16Certainly, 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. 

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We Give Thanks for These Apps, Blogs and Social Media Tools

Mobile-appsIt’s the season of thankfulness. And adding to the list of family, health and happiness, I’d like to share some of the blogs, apps and social media channels that we really appreciate.  Friends and coworkers helped me compile a list of technology tips and tricks that make work and life a little easier.

Mobile Apps

Dan Nestle, senior communications manager at the AICPA, likes "Flipboard and Zite for news gathering."

Chris Ekimoff, CPA, CFE has two favorites: a travel app, TripIt, and, "of course, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without ESPN’s Fantasy Football app."

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Happy Thanksgiving from AICPA Insights

In recent years, the AICPA has developed a special thank you gift for CPAs, which often expresses the qualities a CPA possesses. This year we wanted to share the gift with you as well. Thank you for being a fan and ardent reader of AICPA Insights. 

2013-CPA-Poster-CPAs-Are

You can download the poster for print or online through the CPA Marketing Toolkit. In addition to the poster, we adapted it for use in social media and on your mobile device. You can download images for use on LinkedIn, Facebook and your mobile device.

We hope you have a safe and happy holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

“Taxation with Representation” – Where Are We with Tax Reform?

"People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women."
-Author Unknown

I gave a test in my last tax reform blog. “What will be the greatest driver of tax reform?” and offered the following possible answers:

  • Bipartisan compromise?
  • Congressional leadership changes?
  • Current events?
  • Revenues?
  • Good tax policy?

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Charitable Remainder Trust Strategies

A Charitable Remainder Trust is a split interest trust consisting of an income interest, which is paid to the donor or other beneficiary during the term of the trust, and a remainder interest, which is paid to the designated charity. The purpose of this strategy is to harbor net investment income in a tax-exempt environment while leveling income over a longer period of time to keep MAGI below the threshold amount. CRTs are especially useful when there is a large capital gain that pushes income above the threshold amount. In this podcast, Bob Keebler explores using CRTs in year-end planning strategies for your clients. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post American Taxpayer Relief Act and Net Investment Income Tax Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end.

Charitable Remainder Trusts

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How CPAs Can Leverage Social Media

Today I am live blogging from the 2013 Digital CPA Conference and the social media session, "How the Digital CPA Leverages Social Media," with Tom Hood, CPA, CITP, Executive Director & CEO, MACPA. Tom shares his experiences as one of the top social media leaders in the CPA profession since he started with his blog in 2006. He updates us with real stories of CPAs and adds the latest research on social media. He also highlights more resources to get you started, including e-learning, and on-site training available from the Business Learning Institute. (Email subscribers can see the live blog on our website.)

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Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Come Together and Others Don't

I am live blogging from the 2013 Digital CPA Conference taking place in D.C., today and tomorrow. Today's live blog is covering Simon Sinek's keynote, Start with Why. Simon is an author and leadership expert. The keynote includes a panel of experts from the CPA profession, including:

  • Tom Hood, CPA, CGMA, CEO Maryland Association of CPAs
  • Rick Solomon, CPA, CGMA, Chief Executive Officer, RAN ONE Americas
  • Rene Lacerte, CEO, Bill.com
  • Chris Ekimoff, CPA, Manager, Investigative Accounting and Financial Litigation, Hilton Worldwide

The best way for a team to confront danger to not only survive but to thrive is...together. When the conditions in our organizations are right, we naturally trust each other and cooperate. But when leaders neglect the environment in which their people must work, politics, silos, cynicism and self-intrest prevail; all things that make it even more difficult for us to work together. The best leaders know how to build those conditions and the best organizations are the ones in which the people work together to confront danger and seize opportunities. And the best part is that these "best conditions," seem to mimic the conditions in which we lived 50,000 years ago. Simon will explain what it takes to create a culture in which people work as they were designed - together. It is under these conditions we are at our natural best. (Email subscribers can view the live blog on our website.)

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Increase in IRS Audits – A Positive Trend?

As the newest member of the AICPA Tax team, I was awestruck during my experience at the National Tax Conference. I had a front row seat for Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Danny Werfel’s address; alternated between laughing my head off and cheering at National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen’s candid presentation; and instinctively ducked under the table so as not to be called out by the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility.

But the presentation that hit me the most? Faris Fink, Commissioner of the IRS Small Business/Self Employed Division, who spoke about the division’s initiative to provide advanced partnership examination training to their revenue agents (aka “auditors”). The goal is to increase audits of partnership tax returns with an emphasis on administrative matters in addition to the usual compliance issues.

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Stop the Mad Dash, Create Your Future

CPA-career-developmentCPAs 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.

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KC Chiefs’ CFO Has a Winning Game Plan for Management Accounting

I recently watched a new video featuring Dan Crumb, CPA, CGMA and CFO of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. The video brings to life one of so many unique paths for CGMA designation holders. Dan says that he never thought he’d work for a football team. Now, as the Chiefs’ CFO, he leads finance, IT and the ticket office. His job is to make sure that all systems are functioning 100% of the time so that the Chiefs can focus on football.

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Generation Next: AICPA Leadership Academy, Class of 2013

2013-AICPA-leadership-academy-class-photo
The American Institute of CPAs recently announced the 2013 class of Leadership Academy graduates.

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.

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Preserving Cash Accounting

Cash-accountingHumorist Art Buchwald once described tax reform as taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before. Buchwald’s amusing analysis notwithstanding, tax reform is an arduous task. There are a lot of moving parts being studied on Capitol Hill at the moment. And one part in particular is of great concern to the nation’s CPAs.

As Congress considers the most significant attempt at tax reform in almost 30 years, the House Ways and Means Committee has produced a small business tax reform discussion draft that focuses on simplifying the tax codes for small businesses, including individuals and passthrough entities. While supportive of the Committee’s efforts to simplify the tax code and responsiveness to taxpayer concerns that the code is too complex, the AICPA strongly opposes a proposed limitation on the use of the cash basis method (for the non-CPAs among us, the cash method recognizes revenue and expenses when cash is received or disbursed rather than when earned or incurred. It is simpler in application, has lower compliance costs, and does not require taxpayers to pay tax before receiving the income being taxed). 

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

Across the county, state legislatures considered numerous issues that impact the CPA profession.  In part two of this two-part post, we review issues dealing with: CPAs providing services for marijuana-related businesses, state board of accountancy reorganizations, sales tax on professional services and peer review.

Marijuana Businesses and CPAs

Colorado-capitolAn issue with implications for the CPA profession centers on the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.  While the sale and use of marijuana is illegal at the federal level, state governments and voters are increasingly showing a willingness, in certain jurisdictions, to decriminalize the drug. In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington approved ballot measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.  A total of 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The AICPA, with input from the Colorado and Washington state CPA societies, has developed an issue brief that gives an overview of U.S. recreational and medicinal marijuana laws, the current legislative/regulatory environment and information for CPAs considering providing services to businesses that operate in these industries (including a list of questions for CPAs to ask themselves before considering this line of work).

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Year-End Financial Planning: Bracket Management [PODCAST]

Because of the multi-dimensional tax environment that now exists post-American Taxpayer Relief Act, CPA financial planners must look at the tax impact on clients’ financial plans through a 5 to 10 year horizon. Ordinary income tax rates from the Bush Administration were made permanent. The capital gains rate increased from 15% to 20% for taxpayers with income greater than the threshold amounts. Phase-out of personal exemptions and limitations on itemized deductions (Pease) become critical in managing tax brackets by shifting income and deductions into certain years. This podcast from Bob Keebler provides a overview of theory, strategies and case studies in bracket management. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post ATRA & NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website.)

 

Year-End Financial Planning: Bracket Management

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CPA Profession’s Journey of Greatness

Road-journeyI am honored to write to you in my first blog as the new AICPA Chairman of the Board of Directors. I truly look forward to being able to engage with you through these bimonthly posts. We have an exciting year ahead of us, a year which will focus on the quality of our work and the members of our profession.

As I begin my term as chairman, I have found myself reflecting upon my early days as a staff accountant. From the time I graduated college and began pursuing my career as a CPA, I have been surrounded by inspirational leaders who helped shape me into the man I am today. My firm, Postlethwaite & Netterville, is named after two such extraordinary role models, the late Mr. Alexander Postlethwaite (whom I never addressed by first name) and Jake Netterville, a former AICPA chairman. These great men taught me that quality service and passion are two key ingredients needed to achieve success.

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Real World Stories from Experienced Fraudsters

I am live blogging from today's AICPA Insights Live webcast, Voices of Fraud: Learning from the Perpetrator. This webcast is part of a new fraud series entitled "Voices of Fraud" and will focus on real world stories from experienced fraudsters. By analyzing the fact pattern that allowed the fraud to occur, we'll learn how to detect fraud within an organization. The webcast also focuses on methods to help prevent opportunities for fraud to occur in the future. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.) Be sure to explore the other webcasts in the AICPA Insights Live series.

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Year-End Financial and Tax Planning Strategies [PODCAST]

In the third webcast in the AICPA Insights Live webcast series, Beth Gamel, CPA/PFS, Robert S. Keebler, CPA, Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS and Scott Sprinkle, CPA/PFS, CGMA came together to discuss year-end financial and tax planning strategies, specifically to address the American Taxpayer Relief Act and the Net Investment Income Tax. Below you can find an audio recording from the webcast, as well as the accompanying presentation. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast and see the presentation on our website.) Be sure to explore the other webcasts in the AICPA Insights Live webcast series.

 

Year End Financial Tax Planning Strategies ATRA Net Investment Income Tax

 

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Preventing vs. Responding to Computer Fraud

Computer-fraudMany organizations understand that preventing computer fraud is an important technology initiative and have instituted programs to recognize and prevent fraudulent activity. However, when preventive measures fail and computer fraud does occur, very few organizations have a plan to address and respond to the fraud attempt.

The issue of preventing and responding to computer fraud is among the top ten technology initiatives, according to the AICPA's 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey, which ranks preventing and responding to computer fraud at number six out of ten for U.S. organizations and at number nine out of ten for Canadian organizations. 

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Nuts and Bolts of IRS Audits

I am at the AICPA National Tax Conference today and tomorrow in National Harbor, Md. The conference features regulators, including Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, and tax practitioners. When it comes to tax laws and legislation, we live and work in a world of constant flux: updates to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, tax jurisdictions, taxes in multi-states, flow-through entities and the new 3.8% Medicare surtax regime, to name a few. It’s a recurring cycle of predicting what’s coming up, knowing how to plan and explaining critical details to your clients.

Today I am live blogging the "Nuts and Bolts of IRS Audits" session with speaker Charles Rettig, Esq. of Hochman Salkin Rettig Toscher & Perez, PC. This session provides practical advice for real-life client issues that focus on current IRS tax enforcement priorities and procedures, practitioner representation strategies and techniques and recent developments in tax controversy and procedure. (Email subscribers can read the live blog on our website.)

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The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax [PODCAST]

The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax became effective Jan. 1, 2013, and applies to all taxpayers whose income exceeds a certain threshold amount, thereby raising the marginal income tax rate for affected taxpayers. NIIT includes interest, dividends, annuity distributions, rents, royalties, passive activity income and net capital gain from the disposition of property; it excludes salary, wages, IRA distribution from qualified plans, self-employment income, gain on sale of an active interest in a partnership or S corporation and items which are otherwise excluded or exempt from income under tax law. The threshold amount is the key factor in determining NIIT; thresholds are not inflation protected.

Strategies for reducing net investment income include municipal bonds, tax deferred annuities, life insurance, rental real estate, oil and gas investments, choice of accounting year for estate/trust and timing of estate/trust distributions. Strategies for reducing modified adjusted gross income include Roth IRA conversion, CRTs, non-grantor CLTs, and installment sales. Join Robert Keebler, CPA of Keebler & Associates LLP in this podcast as he walks you through year-end planning for the 3.8% NIIT. Visit the AICPA PFP Section’s Post American Taxpayer Relief Act and NIIT Toolkit for more in-depth resources on planning in preparation for year-end. (Email subscribers can listen to the podcast on our website.)

 

Year End Planning Net Investment Income Tax

 

 

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In the News: Award Winning Achievements

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 ofhonor 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).

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Spotlight on Health Care Reform with AICPA Insights Live

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

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

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

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CPAs Wanted for Lead Role in Sustainability

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

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Help! I Have a Bad Review on Yelp

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

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

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A Business Case for Women in Your Organization

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

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

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

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Engage in New Opportunities and Challenges

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

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