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8 posts from September 2018

4 tips to make a case for a reduced work schedule

Shutterstock_1006953598According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of women with children under the age of 18 are part of the work force. Just like many working parents, I struggled trying to balance the demands of work and home life. That’s why working on a reduced schedule for part of my career was so beneficial.

When I had my first child in 1986, I was a manager in the tax department at Deloitte Tax LLP in Detroit. Through the flexibility options available, I returned from maternity leave and began working a 60 percent schedule. I even rose to a leadership position doing so. The experience was so valuable. It allowed me to be the kind of mother I wanted to be, while also giving me the opportunity to build my career. Here are some tips for talking to your employer about a flexible schedule and maintaining professional success:

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So, your tax clients say their daughter got into Harvard...

Shutterstock_534602335Your clients are ecstatic. Their daughter just got accepted to an Ivy League college. But they’re also worried because that top tier school is expensive. Concern doubles when they think about their 15-year-old son who just started at a private high school. He’ll be looking at colleges soon, too.

Many parents feel financial pressure when it comes to their children’s education. That’s not surprising considering that in 2016, the yearly estimated average cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board was $16,757 at public institutions, $43,065 at private nonprofit institutions and $23,776 at private, for-profit institutions. 

What can you as a tax practitioner do to prepare your clients for this financial milestone? Below, you’ll find four suggested talking points to put your clients’ minds at ease.

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Help disaster survivors -- not scam artists

FraudIt’s a familiar cycle. Disasters like Hurricanes Florence and Michael strike, and the airwaves are inundated with news of people displaced and homes destroyed. And shortly afterwards, you’ll see friends and colleagues ‘sharing’ on social media that they’ve contributed money towards relief efforts on crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and encouraging others to give what they can.

For many people, their sense of compassion kicks in and they are compelled to do what they can to help – which often means making a financial donation. In fact, charitable giving in the United States soared to a record $410.02 billion in 2017 according to Charity Navigator.

But CPAs who specialize in financial fraud detection and prevention warn that you should think twice before clicking that DONATE NOW button. Fraudsters often take advantage of people’s good will and look to rip them off as they try to help those in need.

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Planning, valuation could have saved Franklin’s heirs $20mil

ArethaAretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” passed away last month in her birthplace of Detroit after six decades reigning the music industry. The first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ms. Franklin leaves behind legendary hits and performances and a legacy many entertainers only dream of achieving. What she didn’t leave behind, however, is a will.

Without a will in place, it’s now up to the state of Michigan to determine how her reported, yet unconfirmed, $80 million net worth is divided among her four children. And that amount could rise as her estate is valued. In hindsight, with some tax and financial planning, and a quality valuation—even just a few months ago—Ms. Franklin’s beneficiaries could have saved more than $27M in estate taxes.

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Do you know these three tax client types?

ThreeYour tax practice sees a lot of traffic, no doubt. Clients of every stripe pass through your doors seeking your guidance on all kinds of things. While every CPA tax practitioner is at the ready with good advice and service on all things tax, many go above and beyond with additional planning services. There’s even the occasional left-field question about the best restaurant in town or which university seems best suited to their kids. Over time, you’ve come to identify the personalities of your clients, and you might have noticed that many fit into some broad client types. Do you recognize any of these?

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Are you ‘more dumber’ than your smartphone?

Dumber than your smart phoneChances are, you love your smartphone.

No. I mean: You really love your smartphone.

MRI studies show that when we hold our smartphones, we almost feel as though they’re holding us back. Our brains produce a veritable love potion of chemicals – namely dopamine and oxytocin, the same chemicals released during cuddling. I guess that makes sense. Our smartphones, after all, make great partners. They keep us updated on the weather, the news, the stock market. They advise us where to go for dinner, how to get there, and (thanks to social media apps) whom we should invite – even if we end up ignoring that person the entire time by catching up on emails or playing Fortnite Mobile. Smartphones and other devices typically don’t argue with us, and – provided they’re well charged – they’re there for us when we need them.

Is it a surprise, then, that we’re sacrificing our personal relationships for our relationships with devices? And in doing so, we’re also sacrificing something else: our humanness. As technologies get smarter, we become more reliant, which can actually chip away at our own intelligence.

Take what happened on September 6, 2012:

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Hurricane preparedness: Better to be safe than sorry

 

Shutterstock_125236457Please note: This blog was written before Hurricanes Florence and Michael made landfall. Our thoughts are with those recovering and currently in Hurricane Michael's path. Below, you'll find resources that will help you, your loved ones and your clients recover from the devastation and also prepare for future disasters.

Don’t let the fact that fall is right around the corner fool you into thinking that hurricane season is over. There’s still quite a bit of time left until the end of November – and current systems in the Atlantic are looking ominous.

As a Floridian who has been through many a hurricane, let me give you some advice – do not sit idly by waiting to find out if it will directly hit you. There’s no reason to panic, but as with everything else in life, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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School’s in: Inspiring the next generation of CPAs

Shutterstock_209187676With school back in session, hundreds of thousands of students are embarking on their college careers. It’s a date with destiny that will culminate in the answer to the question they’ve been asked a hundred times: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Where kids and young adults get their ideas for the occupation that will define their adult lives varies widely. Some follow the footsteps of parents or other family members. Some find themselves attracted to a profession through something they learned early in their education. Still others admire a public figure, CEO or fictional character who inspires their choices (if you’re having trouble believing that last one, check out this story).

But if you want to help set your student (or someone else’s) on a career path they’ll find rewarding, interesting and lucrative, accounting is a natural suggestion. And encouraging them to pursue the CPA will help keep them in demand well into the future.

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