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13 posts from April 2013

Herz: Financial Reporting Triumphs and Challenges

Were there warning signs of the worldwide financial crisis and global recession?
Could the addiction to off-balance sheet accounting have been stopped?
How could contentious reporting issues have been better resolved?

Robert herzFrom the reporting scandals of 2001 and 2002 to the recent global financial crisis and efforts at international convergence of accounting standards, former Financial Accounting Standards Board Chairman Robert Herz discusses critical issues and much more in his new book, Accounting Changes: Chronicles of Convergence, Crisis, and Complexity in Financial Reporting. Herz tells the story from the perspective of his front row seat on many of the major developments affecting accounting and financial reporting during his tenure.

Herz has had a long and distinguished career--as Chairman of FASB, a former senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a part-time member of the International Accounting Standards Board, an author and someone who has seen the accounting and financial reporting profession develop and grow over the past several decades. In his book, Herz shares his experiences and insight, including the importance of charting and setting a course to improve standard setting when he joined the FASB, making things simpler by rationalizing the structure of the U.S. accounting standard setting, and reorganizing and codifying U.S. GAAP. 

AICPA Insights interviewed Herz on financial reporting’s evolution and his role in it.

Continue reading "Herz: Financial Reporting Triumphs and Challenges" »

Why I’m a Financial Literacy Volunteer

VolunteerTeaching financial literacy continues to be one of the most gratifying activities of my career.  Although it requires a portion of my already limited time, the rewards (tangible and intangible) are tremendous. Following are the reasons I think public service via financial education is important to us as individual CPAs as well as to our profession.

The Need is Great

Financial education is not taught in our public schools and our economic/financial environment continues to become increasingly complex. Many people do not have the basic information they need to make financial decisions and they don’t know whom to trust. There are large segments of our population who need the professional, objective advice that CPAs can give, but who cannot afford the fees: teenagers and college students, the elderly and middle/low income adults, to name a few.  

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Create and Manage a Thriving Social Media Presence

Meet the brains behind the Journal of Accountancy social media program

It’s been a milestone month for the Journal of Accountancy on social media! Not only did the Journal of Accountancy Twitter account (@AICPA_JofA) add its 20,000th follower and 8,000th tweet, their Facebook page reached 16,000 likes and social media has driven 110,000 visits to their website. Wow! That’s what I call ‘thriving.’

Today I feel like Toto in the Wizard of Oz; I’m pulling back the curtain to reveal the brains behind the Journal of Accountancy social media program. Only it’s not a man with a funny mustache running the show….

Meet Megan Pinkston, senior editor and social media extraordinaire. She’s sitting down with us to share her secrets to success.

Megan Pinkston

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While You Were Coping With a Filing Season out of...

Sleeping-CPAIt’s hard to believe that I’m coming up on my 30-year anniversary at the AICPA.  Before that, I spent eight years in public practice – six with a local firm and two with an international one. Truth is those 30 years have not dimmed the memories of the challenge of filing season.  I joke about those memories but I also admit about how important it is for me to “feel the pain.” 

So many of our members are in public practice and have to “live the pain.”  That is one of the reasons why I am glad that my two directors have experienced many, many filing seasons - one of them ran her own practice for 17 years – as it motivates the Tax Team even more to lessen our members’ pain.

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In the News: You Missed the Deadline to File Taxes, Now What?

Blackboard-deadlineAs I’ve mentioned previously on this very blog, I am a procrastinator by nature. My ‘to do’ list from January of this year is littered with winter-related items (two prime examples are ‘purchase warmer jacket’ and ‘book ski trip for President’s Day weekend’) that I simply didn’t get around to. In those instances, I can shake my head, let out a self-pitying sigh and put it off until next year… But if you missed the April 15 deadline to file either your federal income tax return or an extension, you don’t have the luxury of simply waiting until next year – the time to act is now.

Melissa Labant, AICPA director of tax advocacy, speaking to the New York Times Bucks Blog, advised taxpayers to file as soon as possible and to avoid falling into the trap of thinking ‘oh, the deadline passed so there’s no rush now.’

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Boston: My City in Mourning

BostonMy heart is heavy given the horrific events that occurred during the Boston Marathon on Monday. I grew up just a few minutes outside of Boston and have spent my entire CPA career working in our great city. I also have attended the Boston Marathon many times, both as a spectator cheering for my daughter and as a participant. The spirit and character of Boston, and the patriotic pride of its residents, go back to the earliest days of our country. To see the streets of Boston, particularly those of which I have so many fond celebratory memories, attacked in such a way and during such a joyous moment of civic unity saddens me deeply. My heart goes out to the victims and their families as they try to find calm after this senseless act.

Continue reading "Boston: My City in Mourning" »

U.S. Employer Visits Underway to Promote the CGMA Designation

In his CGMA video interview, Chris Ling, Financial Controller of British Gas, explains well the increasing responsibilities of the finance department and why the function is evolving at such a rapid pace. “The rate at which the business world is changing is forcing everything to change faster,” Ling said. “So it’s our job as finance professionals to make sure we are supporting business as best as we can and as fast as we can.” As the external market drives the pace of change, and as that pace is ever-increasing, the finance function needs to continue to evolve to remain relevant.

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Sells Winners: 39 Candidates Score 95.50 or Higher on CPA Exam

CPA ExamThe 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award winners were announced on March 26. Just a total of 39 individuals performed so well on the CPA Exam in 2012 to have earned this prestigious title. Considering there were more than 92,000 candidates who sat for the CPA exam in 2012, the 39 recipients have made an immense achievement indeed! Perhaps congratulations are in order?

What does it take to be a Sells winner? The award is presented to candidates who have obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA Exam, completed testing during the 2012 calendar year and passed all four sections of the CPA Exam on their first attempt.

The talented individuals listed below are the 2012 Sells Award winners in alphabetical order, followed by their state board affiliation, education and present employer.

Continue reading "Sells Winners: 39 Candidates Score 95.50 or Higher on CPA Exam" »

CPA Profession Flexes Its Financial Muscles This April

April is Financial Literacy Month! This annual event is centered on improving Americans’ understanding of financial principles and practices. During this time every year, the AICPA and state CPA societies bolster financial literacy efforts with added events and resources.
Even with the craziness of tax season, it is amazing to see the dedication of CPAs across the country. Here is just a sampling of the various financial literacy events taking place this month.
 Pig - Super
The Texas Society of CPAs is encouraging families to participate in their 30 Days of Personal Finance. They’ve posted 30 tips for each day of the month, ranging from creative savings ideas to budgeting tips.
The New Mexico Society of CPAs will speak on financial literacy at an Albuquerque middle school on April 22. Three CPA volunteers and a NMSCPA staff member presented at the event last year, and it was so successful for the school that they have decided to make it an annual event! You can see pictures from last year’s event on their Facebook page. This year they will be giving away Feed the Pig and 360 promotional materials to kids and parents, in addition to raffling off copies of Save Wisely, Spend Happily; a copy of the book is also being donated to the school’s library.

Continue reading "CPA Profession Flexes Its Financial Muscles This April" »

In the News: Using Tax Refunds Wisely

Mailbox-tax-returnDo you see your neighbor waiting by the mailbox for their tax refund? Chances are it’s not so they can use it on a fancy vacation or a new spring wardrobe.

This year, workers are most likely to save their refund or use the money for day-to-day expenses, according to a recent survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Interactive for National Financial Capability Month. And that refund money is substantial. An AccountingWEB article on the survey results states that through March 22, the average refund this tax season is $2,827. That’s trending slightly lower than this time last year, when the average individual refund was $2,860.

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8 Tax Reform Questions Congress Needs to Raise (and Answer)

Number-8It looks like comprehensive tax reform is gaining some sense of realism. Consider these important actions so far this year:

  • President Obama mentioned it in his January 2013 State of the Union address: "Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit.  We can get this done."
  • The House Ways and Means Committee formed 11 working groups to address specific areas for reform.
  • On March 21, the Senate Finance Committee began issuing Tax Reform Option Papers -the first one covers simplification for families and businesses.
  • Tax reform is mentioned in both the House and Senate FY2014 Budget Resolutions produced by the budget committees.

Continue reading "8 Tax Reform Questions Congress Needs to Raise (and Answer)" »

Vast Majority of CPAs Manually Calculate Cost Basis

How do you accurately calculate cost basis when purchase information is unknown or when securities have complicated histories? That's a dilemma many CPAs face today when calculating capital gains and losses for their tax clients – and the question we posed to readers in a recent Financial Planning Digest poll. The results of the reader poll show that despite a variety of software options on the market, 91.61% of practitioners continue to manually calculate cost basis by researching history. Only 5.64% of practitioners said that they use cost basis software and the remaining 2.76% said that they don't run into issues where client cost basis information is missing or inaccurate. 


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6 Things Not-For-Profits Need to Know about Non-Cash Contributions

Not-for-profits continue to encounter unique measurement challenges for gifts in kind. There are a variety of approaches available for not-for-profits to value GIK, which can result in large disparities between handlings by different not-for-profits and questions about the application of generally accepted accounting practices to GIK. Other issues such as identifying the applicable principle markets and the effect of nominal fees on GIK require not-for-profits to scrutinize their GIK practices to ensure GAAP is being properly applied.

Not-for-profits must measure all non-cash contributions such as items auctioned off for charity; excess or obsolete goods given to charity to help fulfill its mission; free print or web advertising space and even radio advertisement air time. However, measuring these intangible items can be challenging, as not-for-profits who receive such gifts would not otherwise purchase or sell them and not-for-profit administrators simply may not know the fair market value of these gifts or have access to valuation information.

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