Trends and Hot Topics Feed

trends and hot topics

Covering a wide array of topics, Trends and Hot Topics keeps an eye on what is new in the CPA profession and around the world.

 

 

 

 

 


 

“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?

Continue reading "“Taxation with Representation” – Where Are We with Tax Reform?" »

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.)

Continue reading "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Come Together and Others Don't" »

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).

Continue reading "Fall Review of State Legislative and Regulatory Issues: Part 2 of 2" »

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

Continue reading "Year-End Financial Planning: Bracket Management [PODCAST]" »

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

 

 

Continue reading "The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax [PODCAST]" »

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:

Continue reading "Spotlight on Health Care Reform with AICPA Insights Live" »

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.

Continue reading "Help! I Have a Bad Review on Yelp" »

Finding the Silver Lining in Succession

Succession-planWhen people talk about succession, they tend to focus on issues such as valuations, buyout amounts, deferred compensation, partnership agreements, the development of new leaders and client retention. Not much is said about the emotional side of succession. Let’s face it: As with any transition, succession hurts. Owners struggle with letting go of the business and the relationships they’ve built,  and the new owners struggle to gain a foothold in their new roles.

Even in a well-planned and executed succession, there are a number of events and circumstances that cause some level of discomfort.  Succession tests the personal and leadership strength of the outgoing owner and, when not recognized, can deflate the excitement of the incoming owners and even threaten their future success. If we acknowledge this side up front, we’ll be better able to set ourselves on a smooth and successful journey. So, what tough challenges should we prepare for on the road to succession?

 

Continue reading "Finding the Silver Lining in Succession" »

Integrating Retirement Planning with Your CPA Practice

Social-securityWhat 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.

Continue reading "Integrating Retirement Planning with Your CPA Practice" »

10 Risks Facing Nonprofits [LIVE BLOG]

We thought it only fitting that we live blog from our first AICPA Insights Live webcast. Follow along here or on Twitter at #AICPAInsightsLive. The first webcast in this series covers the top ten risk issues that need to be understood and managed, with practical tips and advice on juggling risks while keeping your mission aloft. (Email subscibers can catch up on the coverage on our website.) Don't miss out on the other webcasts in this series and sign up for the bundle today.

Continue reading "10 Risks Facing Nonprofits [LIVE BLOG]" »

Federal Government Shutdown - It’s Deja vu All Over Again

Government-closedThere’s an old adage that “there’s nothing new under the sun” and so it is inside the Beltway.  As you are well aware, the federal government suspended most of its operations on Oct. 1 after Congress failed to pass a bill to extend funding to mid-November, the first such shutdown in 17 years. Strong political discourse is alive and well in America and it is part of the price we pay for democracy.  It was that way in 1996 when a shutdown lasted three weeks. Hopefully a compromise can be reached quicker this time around.

On the tax front, with more than 85,000 Internal Revenue Service workers now furloughed until Congress reauthorizes spending, many non-essential IRS functions have shut down, including all taxpayer services, as well as examinations. The closure of taxpayer and practitioner hotlines is particularly challenging for those individuals who must file a Form 1040 by Oct. 15 and need to contact the IRS. Nevertheless, no filing deadlines are postponed and returns must be filed. We have urged the IRS to consider the substantial burden imposed on taxpayers (and practitioners) by the inability to communicate with and obtain information from the IRS.

Continue reading "Federal Government Shutdown - It’s Deja vu All Over Again" »

The Tax Realities of “Breaking Bad”

Breaking-bad-taxThe 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 last season).

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.

Continue reading "The Tax Realities of “Breaking Bad”" »

EXTRA! EXTRA! Meet the Brains Behind @AICPANews

Hello_my_name_isAICPANewsTwitter 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?

Continue reading "EXTRA! EXTRA! Meet the Brains Behind @AICPANews" »

Beyond Compliance: The Benefits of XBRL

XBRL-tabletData is the next great commodity resource. The equivalent of all the data that existed up to 2003 is now generated in two days, and 90% of the world’s total data was created in the last two years alone. Now comes a powerful new form of data, one that speaks the language of business. By the nature of its format, XRBL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, brings transparency to business information so investors can analyze data more easily and make informed investment decisions.

Continue reading "Beyond Compliance: The Benefits of XBRL" »

Assurance Services 101: New Tool for Providers and Users of Business Info

Business-meetingImagine this 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.  

“Perfect,” 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?

Continue reading "Assurance Services 101: New Tool for Providers and Users of Business Info" »

In the News: CPAs Predict Uptick in Hiring

AICPA Economic Outlook SurveyIt 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.

Business executives--while 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.

Continue reading "In the News: CPAs Predict Uptick in Hiring" »

IRS Guidance Following DOMA Decision

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision invalidating a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced on Aug. 29 that “same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.” The IRS also issued a revenue ruling (Rev. Rul. 2013-17) and FAQs providing guidance on the topic.

In short, regardless of what state the same-sex couple currently lives in, if they were legally married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages as legal and valid, then same-sex spouses are married for all federal tax purposes. This podcast from Bob Keebler covers Revenue Ruling 2013-17, background on the DOMA decision, income, estate and gift tax planning implications, as well as portability, IRAs and retirement plans.

IRS Guidance Following DOMA Decision

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

Continue reading "IRS Guidance Following DOMA Decision" »

Would You Recommend the CPA Profession to Your Kid?

Professional-kidsWould you recommend the CPA profession to your kid? This is a question I used to ask the partners of my firm in Buffalo. I did our firm’s recruiting and felt this was an important question, because every new hire was someone’s kid. And in a small market like Buffalo, chances were, I actually knew their parents. I had to look those parents in the eye and tell them that when their child accepted a job with my firm, it was the right career move. I felt it was important for the partners to understand, if there was something in the firm that wasn’t good enough for their own kid, they had the power to fix it.

That same question sparked some lively discussion when I posed it to a group at the AICPA’s E.D.G.E. conference in Austin, Texas, this month. It goes without saying that the CPA profession provides virtually unlimited opportunities, offering a solid set of core competencies that can be put to work in a wide range of situations. Our CPA training and credential have formed a solid stepping stone for many of us, myself certainly included, to a very rewarding career.

Continue reading "Would You Recommend the CPA Profession to Your Kid?" »

New Gmail Tabs Could Hinder Efforts to Reach Your Customers

Not too long ago, Gmail started rolling out a new layout which features different tabs to group your emails. By default, Gmail users see three tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions. Users can now find their emails on one of these tabs, based on Gmail’s settings. This change doesn’t just affect Gmail through your browser, but also through the Gmail app on your smartphone. (If you access your Gmail through IMAP or Exchange settings on your smartphone, you will still see all emails in one inbox.) Google says it made this change to give users more control of their inbox.

Continue reading "New Gmail Tabs Could Hinder Efforts to Reach Your Customers" »

Half of U.S. Adults Fail ‘Health Insurance 101’

Healthcare-questionsI 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 basic terms.

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 copay.

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 makes payments.

“Half of Americans would fail health insurance 101,” said Ernie Almonte, CPA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission.

Continue reading "Half of U.S. Adults Fail ‘Health Insurance 101’" »

Ensuring Privacy in an IT World

PrivacyDo you expect a right to privacy? Do your clients? The truth of the matter is that the right to privacy is an ever-changing, ever expanding concept that continually needs to be redefined. That's especially true when it comes to ensuring privacy in an IT world. Ensuring privacy, which concerns the rights and obligations of individuals and organizations with respect to the collection, use, retention, disclosure and disposal of personal information, comes with risks.

Continue reading "Ensuring Privacy in an IT World" »

3 Crucial Areas of Focus for Benchmarking

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.

Trusted-business-adviser

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.

Continue reading "3 Crucial Areas of Focus for Benchmarking" »

If You or Your Clients are the Victim of Tax-Related Identity Theft

ID-fraudTax-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. 

Continue reading "If You or Your Clients are the Victim of Tax-Related Identity Theft" »

Audit Data Standards: Revolutionizing Business Information

Audit-data-standardsOne 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 standards: base 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 specifications;
  • data field definitions and technical specifications; and
  • supplemental questions and data validation routines to help users better understand the data and assess its completeness and integrity.

Who will benefit from their use? A number of stakeholders, from internal and external auditors to software vendors. Let’s discuss.

Continue reading "Audit Data Standards: Revolutionizing Business Information" »

That “Comfort Letter” Request May Really Be A Third-Party Verification

Writing-letterI continue to get requests from members on how to handle the "comfort letter" issue, as well as feedback on guidance the AICPA has developed and suggestions for how we can better advocate for our members and their clients. By way of background for those of you who may have missed my previous blog post, CPAs are often asked to verify a variety of client information for regulators, banks, insurance providers, state taxing authorities and more.

What they're asking for, basically, is a guarantee that certain information about a client is correct, such as confirmation of a client’s self-employment status; verification of income from self-employment; verification of a self-employed borrower’s business ownership percentage; and profitability or sustainability of a self-employed client’s business. While it's certainly understandable why they would want verification of this information, depending on what the request is can place CPAs in a risky situation. At the AICPA, we’ve received several inquiries from members regarding what is often referred to as "providing comfort" or “comfort letters.” However, the requests are actually “third-party verifications."

Continue reading "That “Comfort Letter” Request May Really Be A Third-Party Verification" »

In the News: AICPA Conference Focuses on Developing Female Leaders

Leadership-compassA recent AccountingWEB article by Deanna White highlighted the steps the AICPA is taking to develop more female leaders in the accounting profession.

"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.

Bennett said 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.

Continue reading "In the News: AICPA Conference Focuses on Developing Female Leaders" »

Affordable Care Act Implications You Need to Know Now [PODCAST]

In this podcast, Ted Sarenski discusses the latest developments regarding health care reform and the Affordable Care Act, including what will be required of health plans offered both through exchanges and employers, the delay to 2015 of the requirement for large employers to offer health insurance, the individual mandate, penalties and federal subsidies, the October 1 deadline for health insurance exchanges, preexisting conditions, and Ted’s predictions and advice for clients in 2014. 

Affordable Care Act Implications You Need to Know Now

If you prefer, you can read the entire transcript below or download this and other audio webcasts from the Personal Financial Planning Section on AICPA.org.

Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Based in Syracuse, New York, Ted has gotten a taste for providing PFP services in a larger CPA firm and on his own. He provides financial planning services and manages assets. His compensation model is a mix of hourly, retainer and assets under management fees.

Continue reading "Affordable Care Act Implications You Need to Know Now [PODCAST]" »

Tapping Into Creativity: The Concept of Intrapreneurship

InnovationIn the U.S., 12.3% of the population is identified as a nascent entrepreneur or owner of a business less than three years old. That is roughly 22 million people between the ages of 18-64. The number is even higher if you factor in the growing number of people who think about owning a business or work inside an organization. And who wouldn’t want to be an entrepreneur? They’re passionate, resilient, decisive and fearless. And because of these personality traits, they are often more innovative than their corporate counterparts.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could harness those personality traits in your own organization?

Continue reading "Tapping Into Creativity: The Concept of Intrapreneurship" »

Advancement of Women in the CPA Profession [LIVE BLOG]

Today's hot topic at the AICPA's E.D.G.E. Conference in Austin, Texas, is women's professional issues. In this session, Yasmine El-Ramly, CPA.CITP, Project Manager, PCPS – Firm Services, AICPA, and Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, Vice President, Firm Services & Global Alliances, AICPA, will describe best practices to promote the advancement of women in the profession at the organizational and individual levels. The AICPA is hosting the Women's Global Leadership Summit, Oct. 24 to 25 in Washington, D.C.

(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "Advancement of Women in the CPA Profession [LIVE BLOG]" »

Opportunities for Innovation: It's Time to Change the Way We Think

Auditors, and others in the accounting profession, think logically. We have to in order to do our jobs. However, as the world changes, so must we – and logic only gets you so far. Aside from logical thinking and reasoning, we also must be creative. It's that creativity, which can often be found in your existing staff, that can provide us with opportunities for innovation.

Take a look around and you'll see that the world is simply moving away from, and beyond, how CPAs have traditionally practiced. While CPAs still give an opinion on a set of historical financial statements, real-time technology is here to stay. People want information now, not later – and there's a big difference in providing one versus the other. That's where our profession, and the future of auditing, must change. It means taking a closer look at technology, standards – and people. I recently filmed a video for the AICPA addressing these issues

Continue reading "Opportunities for Innovation: It's Time to Change the Way We Think" »

Tax and Estate Planning Following the DOMA Decision [PODCAST]

This podcast from Bob Keebler covers tax and estate planning following the Defense of Marriage Act decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S. Bob discusses the complexity of moving from a same-sex marriage state to an opposite-sex only marriage state, income tax planning for same-sex married couples, estate and gift tax planning, the marital deduction, gift splitting and portability issues, as well as IRAs and retirement plans.  [Email subscribers: Visit AICPA Insights to listen to the podcast.]

 

Tax and Estate Planning Following the DOMA Decision

 

Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, DEP, Partner, Keebler & Associates, LLP. Bob is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Estate Planners award from the National Association of Estate Planning counsels. From 2003 to 2006, Bob was named by CPA Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential practitioners in the United States. He is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration.  

Continue reading "Tax and Estate Planning Following the DOMA Decision [PODCAST]" »

Health Care Reform: The Questions Just Got More Complicated

Health-care-file“What will health reform mean to my small business clients?” That was one of the hot topics identified at the recent AICPA Private Companies Practice Section Executive Committee meeting, and it’s a question that I and my colleagues on the PCPS team have been hearing from CPAs across the country. In addition, in the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, “the effect on firms of new federal and state regulations (i.e., increasing complexity, costs to comply)” was one of the top five issues for sole practitioners, possibly due to increased concerns and client inquiries about implementing provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  PCPS uses the Top Issues Survey results to inform members about the challenges being faced by other firms and to monitor and respond to member needs.

Continue reading "Health Care Reform: The Questions Just Got More Complicated" »

The Moans and Groans of Student Loans

When I graduated from college I thought I had all my finances under control. Sure I had some student loan debt, but I had been able to get through four years with only the equivalent of one year’s worth of expenses and tuition in debt; compared to those with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, I felt pretty good. Then I entered the “real world” and everything changed. I’ve been out of school four years now, paying the optimal monthly payment on my loans every month, and I’ve barely made a dent. Student-loan-debt-2

As a student applying for loans, I assumed that as long as I made my monthly payments I would see the number go down, plain and simple. I figured that those high school teachers I had that were still paying down their loans in their 40s must have put off payments or took out enormous loans; why else would it take that long? As the reality of the situation sunk in, and I realized the impact of this magical “interest rate,” my student loan debt suddenly felt much heavier. And I’m not alone. According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the AICPA by Harris Interactive, only 39% of respondents fully understood the burden student loan debt would have on the future, and a whopping 75% have made a personal or financial sacrifice because of monthly student loan payments, like postponing getting married, having children, buying a house and saving for retirement.

This spring I proudly watched my little brother graduate from college, but as I looked out at the sea of graduates, my mind couldn’t help but think of the immense amount of student debt that lay before many of them. Lucky for my brother, working at the AICPA and with our members has given me access to a treasure-trove of tips and information for managing and paying down student loan debt. Here are a few basics that I passed along to him from 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy.

Continue reading "The Moans and Groans of Student Loans" »

Social Media: Time Sink or Productivity Booster?

During a recent live chat about social media on the AICPA Facebook page, we asked participants, “Do you think social media is a time sink?” 50 percent said, “No,” and the other 50 weren’t so sure.

Time Sink graph

Continue reading "Social Media: Time Sink or Productivity Booster?" »

IT Security Key Concern for CPAs and Their Clients

IT-securitySecuring the IT environment is a key issue in today's business world as organizations attempt to manage the risks in cloud computing, the use of mobile devices and defending against cyber-attacks. The importance of security is becoming more apparent each day. Earlier this year, Yahoo Japan experienced an IT security breach in which the user names of 22 million people were stolen. Back in 2010, Google reported that it was the victim of a Chinese cyber-attack; a similar attack is believed to have been launched against the U.S. government. But it’s not just big businesses and governments that have to fend off cyber-attacks; small businesses experience the same problems. Securing the IT environment is clearly a universal issue and can be a constant challenge when it comes to identifying threats.

Continue reading "IT Security Key Concern for CPAs and Their Clients" »

4 Ways to Attract New Clients

New-clientWhat’s one thing that CPA firm owners can agree on? While the top issues affecting CPA firms vary based on size, bringing in new clients is a common concern for all. That’s one of the many things we learned from the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues survey, which asked CPAs what’s keeping them up at night. The biennial survey, conducted by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section, reveals the chief concerns of CPA firms like yours.  

We released the results of the Top Issues survey at the AICPA’s Practitioners Symposium TECH+ and AAM Summit on June 11 in Las Vegas. The survey responses are categorized by practice size, with top five concerns lists for sole practitioners and for CPA firms with 2 - 5, 6 - 10, 11 - 20 and 21 or more professionals. The findings offer unique insights into the critical challenges facing practitioners across the country, and enable the AICPA to understand and analyze the trends and challenges, and thus provide appropriate solutions and resources to our members.

Continue reading "4 Ways to Attract New Clients" »

Health Care Considerations for Employee Benefit Plans

Health-careThe debate continues about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact health care costs in the overall economy. While CFOs may not be interested in the macroeconomics of it all, they will want to keep their own company’s health insurance costs down. It will not be easy. 

Signed into law in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will profoundly affect individuals, employers, health care providers and insurance companies.  In addition to the many new tax rules to offset the cost of these reforms, the law also contains many changes that employers are going to need to consider and how it may affect employee benefit plan operations, internal controls, financial reporting and more.

Here are a few things that may have a larger impact on plans:

Continue reading "Health Care Considerations for Employee Benefit Plans" »

Global Governments Waging War on Corporate Tax Avoidance

Tim-cook-apple-testifyingWhile reading through the Sunday New York Times, I stumbled across an opinion piece on corporate tax avoidance that I think is particularly relevant for business and industry CPAs. In today’s struggling economy, the corporate tax system is a hot button issue both in Washington and around the world. As companies become more global, we as CPAs in industry can continue to add value in this area.

The article, “Who Will Crack the Code?” by David Leonhardt, starts out by talking about the shift in the soda industry from domestic to foreign concentrate production—just one example of a thread that runs through many different industries. Leonhardt notes, “as a result [of moving manufacturing operations overseas], the industry paid a combined corporate income tax rate of only 19.2 percent over the past six years…the average rate for companies in the S&P 500 was 29.1 percent.”

Continue reading "Global Governments Waging War on Corporate Tax Avoidance" »

3 Ways the New COSO Framework May Affect Your Business

Over the past 20 years, change seems to come at the speed of light and has had a significant impact on the way businesses operate. Markets have become global, just about every process can now be outsourced and technology has become integrated into the DNA of every business. If anything, changes in rules, regulations and standards have accelerated. Businesses must now satisfy the high expectations of regulators and other stakeholders regarding governance oversight, risk management and the detection and prevention of fraud. All of this change means that stronger internal control practices must be developed to help to grow, as well as protect, the organization.

Continue reading "3 Ways the New COSO Framework May Affect Your Business" »

How Specialization Can Improve Your Service Offerings

In our last live blog session from the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit, Jerry Love, CPA, CGMA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CITP of Abilene, Texas, offers insight as to how CPAs can specialize and improve their bottom line. Specializing will:

  • Deepen existing client relationships – with each additional value-added service that you offer a client, they rely on you more heavily as their trusted advisor.
  • Increase the firm’s bottom line with additional revenue streams.
  • Retain staff – specialized services provide staff exposure to a wider array of assignments and fulfilling career paths.

(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "How Specialization Can Improve Your Service Offerings" »

What is the Next Generation of CPA Firms?

Join the new generation of CPA who is finding success by reimagining and recreating the traditional CPA firm for the 21st century at the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit.

  • Leverage new technologies.
  • Implement new workflows.
  • Invent new client acquisition and relationship management systems.
  • Improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Grow revenues.
  • Optimize profitability.
  • Embrace value pricing.
  • Kill the billable hour.
  • Attract, nurture and motivate the best talent.

Get ready to renew your commitment – and be inspired anew – to transform your life, and the lives of colleagues and clients for the better.

Join Rick Telberg as he moderates this panel of young CPA professionals including:

  • Jason Deshayes, CPA, Vice President, Butler CPAs, Albuquerque, NM
  • Michael Elliott, CPA, Manager, Dittrick & Associates, Inc., Burton, OH
  • Joy Lizotte, CPA, Owner, Joy L. Lizotte, CPA, LLC, Lake City, FL

(Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "What is the Next Generation of CPA Firms?" »

Are You Using Digital Signatures?

Kicking off day two of the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit is the session "What‘s in the Future for Digital Signatures?." Business in general, and the CPA profession specifically, have long sought a solution to the inefficiencies of ink and paper-based signatures. Has technology finally solved the problem or do we continue to wait? There are many popular “solutions,” but do they really solve the problem(s)? This session, presented by Erik Asgeirsson, CEO, CPA2Biz, a subsidiary of the AICPA, and Brian Fox, CPA, founder of Confirmation.com, will define the problems and compare and contrast some of the proposed solutions. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "Are You Using Digital Signatures?" »

AICPA Launches #MainStFinancials (FRF for SMEs)

Earlier today, the AICPA announced the launch of the Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities. This session at the 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit covers AICPA Director of Private Company Financial Reporting, Robert Durak, CPA, CGMA, as he highlights key features and benefits of the Financial Reporting Framework for SMEs, as well as important accounting topics within the FRF for SMEs. You can find more information on the framework by following #MainStFinancials. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "AICPA Launches #MainStFinancials (FRF for SMEs)" »

New Taxes and the Cost of Healthcare and Insurance

The 2013 Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Partnership with the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit takes place June 10 to 12 in Las Vegas. I am live blogging from select sessions throughout the three days. The first session is "The Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business: New Taxes and the Cost of Healthcare and Insurance" with Mark Dietrich, CPA/ABV, of Framingham, Mass. Mark wrote a prelude on AICPA Insights which generated a lot of interest and conversation.

This session covers the Accountable Care Act, which is the most significant and costly social spending legislation since the Great Society programs of the 1960s. Its impact extends beyond health insurance, and envisions a system of regulation and taxation that aims to restrict the impact that income has on access to healthcare, except the wealthiest top .1% (one-tenth of 1%) of taxpayers. (Email subscribers: See the live blog coverage on AICPA Insights).

Continue reading "New Taxes and the Cost of Healthcare and Insurance" »

What Does It Take to Value a Business?

As CPAs, we get so consumed with our day-to-day challenges of serving clients and employers that we can neglect some of the big-picture issues that are going to impact the not-so-distant future of our profession. That’s what was behind the AICPA’s Vision 2011 project, and more recently our CPA Horizons 2025, but it’s also the subject of a series of panels we’ve convened to bring thought leaders together. Last month’s topic was value versus valuation, which is not a new issue, but one that has intensified in recent years. This video is just a snippet of that conversation. You can view the full video on AICPA TV.

Continue reading "What Does It Take to Value a Business?" »

Managing and Retaining Data: Top Priority for CPAs

TechnologyTechnology allows organizations to make more effective use of data in advising clients and making business decisions. However, the explosive growth in the volume and complexity of information has increased the risks in managing and retaining data – which, according to the 2013 North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey, is the top priority for CPAs.

While everyone can agree that data management is integral to an organization’s ability to mitigate risk, an organization whose data management policies and procedures are insufficient or ineffective is exposed to the consequences of poor data management. Those consequences could result from poor business decisions or client advice that was based on incomplete or inaccurate data, having data stored in outdated or incompatible retrieval formats or improperly backing up data, which can result in its irrevocable loss.

Continue reading "Managing and Retaining Data: Top Priority for CPAs" »

Sustainability Reporting: Don’t Miss this Opportunity

Business-inventoryWhether boosting the bottom line, preserving the planet or a combination of the two, sustainability has officially crossed the threshold of America’s businesses, with many of the greatest skeptics even now realizing that it’s here to stay. In fact, according to the Governance & Accountability Institute’s report: 2012 Corporate Environmental, Social and Governance / Sustainability / Responsibility Reporting – Does It Matter? Analysis of S&P 500 Companies’ ESG Reporting Trends and Capital Markets Response, “53 percent of S&P 500 Index companies are currently disclosing ESG information, compared to about 19-20 percent of the S&P 500 reporting in 2010.”

Sustainability’s momentum is being fueled by a large, influential and growing majority of supporters: business leaders. They recognize that sustainability-minded organizations are more committed to management checks and balances, informed decision-making and community goodwill. What follows is an organization’s reputation for greater stability, less risk and a more secure market value. Sustainability-minded organizations are among the top choices when retailers and other businesses create vendor relationships, select investment candidates and make purchase decisions.

Continue reading "Sustainability Reporting: Don’t Miss this Opportunity" »

Tax Reform is Centerpiece of CPAs’ Advocacy on Capitol Hill

Capitol HillWhen more than 400 leaders of the CPA profession journeyed to Washington, D.C., to attend last month’s AICPA Spring Meeting of Council, visits to Capitol Hill to engage in advocacy of the profession’s legislative goals were a highlight of the agenda. To no one’s surprise, tax reform – which sits atop the list of the Institute’s legislative priorities – was a focal point of the visits.

The AICPA has a longstanding tradition of advocating for sound tax policy and assisting lawmakers on tax policy matters. The proliferation of new income tax provisions since the 1986 tax reform effort has led to complex compliance hurdles for taxpayers, administrative complexity and enforcement challenges for the Internal Revenue Service. The Institute has testified on tax reform before the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and submitted technical recommendations to five study groups whose findings will shape legislation expected later this year.

Continue reading "Tax Reform is Centerpiece of CPAs’ Advocacy on Capitol Hill" »

In the News: Paying for a Summer Studying Abroad

Graduation-abroadAs a 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.

For 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.

The 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.

Continue reading "In the News: Paying for a Summer Studying Abroad" »

Small Businesses and Health Care Reform – What Now?

Health-care-reformThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform) seeks to change the way health insurance premiums are established, just as the Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care did in Massachusetts. As CPAs’ small business clients begin to implement the requirements of health care reform, CPAs need to understand two significant ways in which their small business clients, and their own small practices, may be affected.

The Small Group Insurance Market and Increasing Premiums

The first big change that health care reform brings is the prospect of “merging” (formally or via rating rules) the small group insurance market with the individual insurance market. The individual market typically has the highest costs of all the health insurance markets due to the actuarial risk of a single covered life and the time and expense of selling single policies. The small group market, historically 50 employees or less, but in the case of health care reform, 100 employees or less (mandated to expand the risk pool base of small businesses who might also absorb the cost of the merged individual market), is significantly less risky and thus has lower premiums. As has been the case in Massachusetts, if the formal merger of the two markets’ risk pools takes place in your state, it may cause small business premiums to increase dramatically. If you or your client presently have more than 50 employees and are covered in your state’s existing large group market risk pool, premiums could rise once the small group level increase to 100 employees becomes effective in 2014.

Continue reading "Small Businesses and Health Care Reform – What Now?" »

Subscribe

Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:
Preview