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12 posts from February 2013

What I Learned from 10,000 Tweets

TweetingEarlier this month CPA Letter Daily’s Twitter account (@CPALetter_Daily) reached the milestone of 10,000 tweets. And with more than 15,000 followers, we’re one of the most popular AICPA Twitter accounts. Despite these milestones, I don’t know the secrets of Twitter any more than you do, but there are a few things I learned along the way to 10,000 that may help you with your Twitter opportunities. Here are seven easy-to-follow tips:

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How Peer Review Strengthened Our Firm

Peer reviewOur firm, Gentile Pismeny & Brengel, LLP, headquartered in Great Neck, N.Y., has undergone eight peer reviews since 1991. These reviews have consistently proven to be highly beneficial, providing us with new insights into how we can strengthen our firm, and in turn, the profession. In fact, we see such value in the process that we’ve recently decided to expand our array of services to include peer review.

Wondering what peer review can do for your firm?  Read on to discover why we feel so strongly about it.

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In the News: For the Love of Money

Money talkThose wilted flowers and almost empty boxes of chocolates can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day was last week. According to some estimates, as many as 200,000 couples across the United States choose this date to become engaged. Congrats to all the lovebirds out there!

But before these happy couples tie the knot, they’ll need to make sure they’re on the same page when it comes to their finances – otherwise, problems will likely arise. 

A timely Chicago Tribune article on this topic cited an AICPA survey showing that 27 percent of couples married or living together said money issues were likely to lead to an argument. In fact, money issues are more likely to cause an argument than topics on children, chores or work.

Tracy Stewart of the AICPA’s National Financial Literacy Commission stresses that a primary reason behind these types of arguments is a lack of communication.

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Fitness Showdown: Financial v. Physical

It seems like every time I turn on the TV or open a magazine, there’s some new fitness miracle, whether it’s equipment, classes, cleanses or clothing. And, of course, they all come with a price, usually not within the typical young adult budget. While fitness is important for people in all age groups, it seems to be taking on a whole new import with Generations X and Y. Gym memberships or fitness classes are now a staple in the standard budget, and eating organic seems like a no-brainer trade-off for the higher cost. All of this is well and good from a health standpoint, and in the long run will ideally lead to fewer health care costs down the road, but there’s something big missing from the average American’s budget: saving.
12882-311-SWSH Launch-Infographic-Money Secrets_r9 - CROPPED 2

I’ve been saving since before I knew what the term saving meant; I had some wonderful relatives who knew how much I would appreciate savings bonds down the road. When I started working at the age of 16, the saving continued, with me socking away every paycheck apart from the money I needed for gas. Even when I started my first job out of college, I still found saving easy, and didn’t understand why people just didn’t “get it.”

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If You Like Accounting and TV, Keep Reading

Projectinnovation_logoYou’re reading AICPA Insights, so I can safely assume that you’re interested in accounting. And since I’m making assumptions, I’m going to assume that you like to watch TV (hey - all the cool kids are doing it). And since you’ve got an inquisitive mind, I bet you wonder how networks decide which shows get made and which shows on TV "make it." Maybe, you got a little fix watching the People’s Choice Awards last month. And since then, you’ve been twiddling your thumbs as you count down the days until the Emmys. Well keep reading, because I have just the thing for you.

Let me set the scene…The TV industry is booming and each network is in search of “the next big thing.” At the same time, accounting is in the spotlight as one of the fastest growing professions. Put the two together, and the network executives have decided this is a profession that should play a role in their next pilot. That’s right, it’s the AICPA’s Project Innovation: Competition of Creative Excellence.

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Windows on Washington

Distorted-politicsA few weeks ago I talked about the jitters many business owners and families are feeling in regards to the current U.S. economic situation. Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to their CPAs to help them make sense of this increasingly complex world. At the AICPA, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed in this environment.

We asked you to describe the angst you are observing in your practice. We received dozens of comments via the blog post and social media channels. Overwhelmingly, members said that Congressional action—or in many cases, inaction—is the primary source of uncertainty and anxiety for clients and in their companies.

Right or wrong, it is clear that we live in a time when the Federal government is quite active. Think about it: TARP, the auto-industry bailout, Dodd-Frank, healthcare reform, American Tax Reform Act—and the list continues to grow. There will assuredly be more “cliffs” to come this year: surpassing the debt ceiling, a possible downgrade in US credit ratings, sequestration, and another continuing resolution(s) to fund the Federal government.

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I Love You, I Spend a Lot [INFOGRAPHIC]

It seems you can’t turn on the news without hearing at least one story about money. Saving, spending, debt, budgeting…the topic of finances is everywhere, except, however, in the homes of consumers. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey conducted on behalf of the AICPA to promote the new consumer book Save Wisely, Spend Happily, only 14% of Americans identify financial problems as something they would feel comfortable discussing. What’s more, 28% say they have no one to ask for financial advice. When it comes to family and finances, shouldn’t loved ones be allies?

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In the News: After the Super Bowl, Tax Season Kicks Off

KickoffThe IRS has been accepting tax returns electronically and by mail since Jan. 30, but this Monday marked the official start of tax season, which is defined, for my purposes, as the day after the Super Bowl.

That means that for the next few months, as CPAs around the country are working with their clients to ensure that their returns are submitted correctly and on time, reporters and bloggers will be looking to provide their audiences with articles about all things tax. Therefore, I will be highlighting some more tax content of interest in my bi-weekly ‘in the news’ post. The circle of life, if you will.

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Tentacles of State Tax on Professional Services May Reach CPAs

TentacleCould your clients be required to pay a sales tax on your CPA tax and accounting professional services? Could states really “tax a tax service” that CPAs provide to taxpayers who need these services to comply with the increasingly complex tax law and accounting rules?

Well, three states already tax professional services and do not exempt accounting services, so CPAs in those states can speak to its impact. The states are Hawaii - 4%, New Mexico - 5% and South Dakota - 4%. Some states also have taxes that affect (but do not specifically target) the accounting profession. For example, Delaware imposes a gross receipts tax of .004% on monthly receipts over $100,000, and the state of Washington has a 1.8% business and occupation tax on service providers.

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Host a “Welcome to Tax Season” Celebration

"The Bruce Dickinson" (Christopher W..."The Bruce Dickinson" (Christopher Walken) delivering the iconic phrase "...more cowbell!" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we enter one of the most anticipated times of the year, why not host a celebration to mark its arrival? You know, show the business community that you are excited about this special season.

“Are you C-R-A-Z-Y?” you might be asking. It’s tax time. Parties are just not what we do right now.

This year, maybe it’s time for a change. Do something different. Welcome the arrival of tax season with clients and friends of the firm. After all, it’s your time to shine. Embrace your place in the spotlight.  

Take a tip from movie producers and best-selling authors who hold premiere parties when they release new films and books. Believe it or not, there are a number of strategies that you can adapt from their attention grabbing events. Even though your firm isn’t likely to have such an extravagant budget, you can achieve the same results with a simple gathering. It’s all about getting your audience excited! Not to mention spreading the word about your firm with viral conversation starters such as “Guess where I’m going tonight?” or “You will never believe who threw such a great party last evening.”

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What’s the Difference Between Winning and Losing?

3 Tips for Ensuring You’re Coaching a Winning Team

Vince-lombardi-statueI’m a sports fan. And I’m the mother of two athletic teenage boys. I’ve watched a lot of ball games over the years, and I’d like to think I’ve learned a little bit about coaching. Recently, I watched a basketball game where the home team lost, but should have won. 

Why do I think they lost?  Coaching.

Despite the team’s collective talent, the coach allowed selfish play and poor execution without consequence.  More importantly, he failed to adjust his strategies to counter the opposing team's strengths. Occasionally, talent alone suffices in order to win a game. Most times, however, how that talent is deployed makes the difference between success and failure.

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Economic Growth in 2013: A Blend of Optimism with Realism

2013-growthLike me, I’m sure most of you are relieved the “fiscal cliff” debate is behind us, at least for the moment. While Congress and President Obama still have plenty of work to do, I’m hopeful both political parties can work together on compromises that will begin to reduce the deficit and simultaneously stimulate economic growth.

What’s frustrating for me and for many Americans is that most of us recognize what has to be done. We need a balanced solution that includes new revenue and serious deficit cutting, with a look to the long-term economic vibrancy of our economy. We need tax reform and tax simplification, and we need to set national policies that incentivize private-sector workers, jumpstart new businesses, spur entrepreneurship and encourage innovation. If we can take steps toward realizing these goals, I believe we can see positive economic results in 2013.

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