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10 posts from December 2018

How to avoid gift card fraud this holiday season

Shutterstock_767773663Everyone has a friend or relative that is difficult to purchase a gift for. I’m sure you’re thinking of one after reading that sentence! That’s why gift cards are so popular –the person gets to pick out something they know they’ll like. It’s really a win-win situation. However, in recent years, scammers caught wind of the lucrative gift card market and have come up with schemes to target consumers.

AICPA Insights reached out to Howard M. Silverstone, CPA/CFF, a forensic accountant and member of AICPA’s Fraud Task force to learn how Americans can protect themselves from gift card fraud this holiday season.

AICPA Insights: I only recently heard about gift card fraud a few weeks ago. How long has this scam been around?

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Reflections on 2018: A year of change and opportunity

Barry MelanconBarry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, President and CEO of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), reflects on the success of the past year and the opportunities ahead in 2019.

Last year, you used one word to sum up 2017: change. How would you sum up 2018?

The change and disruption we saw in 2017 continued in full force into 2018 – it just became faster and more complex. The unprecedented pace of innovation and interconnection of new technologies, unstable business and political environments and changing workforce demographics are transforming the accounting profession and the role we play as trusted advisors to the individuals, businesses and communities we serve.

And as bewildering as change can sometimes seem, I think it’s actually promising for the future. These extraordinary times present nearly limitless opportunities for our profession, allowing us to dramatically reimagine the work that we do to become even stronger, more trusted and more vibrant. But to realize that opportunity, we have to be willing to challenge convention - to go beyond the way we’ve done things, beyond expectations, beyond comfort zones. That’s been a central theme of our work in 2018, as we’ve helped our members prepare for and embrace the opportunities on the horizon.

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‘Twas the night before tax season

'Twas the night before tax season, when all through the states,

The nighttime felt heavy, and folks were up late.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While Dad stared at forms with immeasurable dread.

And Mom in her PJs, the cat in her lap,

Had just settled in for the tiniest of naps.

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The world is your classroom: Build your 2019 learning plan in minutes

IdeaPicture it: A knockerupper and a powdermonkey walk into a packed bar. To their surprise, there’s only one barstool left. The knockerupper looks over at the powdermonkey and says, ‘Are you gunning for that seat?’ to which the powdermonkey responds, ‘Don’t look so alarmed.’

Okay. Admittedly, the punchline would probably make more sense if knockeruppers and powdermonkeys were still relevant professions today. But that’s kind of my point. Because this joke illustrates an imperative, timeless truth:

Lifelong learning is no joke.

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AICPA representing you in 2018

GettyImages-622316560 - Advocacy2018 was a busy year for the AICPA’s Advocacy team. We were invited to testify before key congressional committees, provided written testimony to legislators and regulators and submitted over 60 comment letters to federal agencies and accounting standard-setters, including the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board. We also supported state CPA society activities in their legislatures.

Our efforts produced results. Here are just some of them:

Guidance on meals and entertainment deductions

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4 things your clients don’t know affect their taxes

Shutterstock_675514828This year is coming to an end, and there’s one thing we can all agree on: 2018 was a doozy for tax practitioners. Between tackling a challenging busy season, reading up on the Wayfair ruling and navigating the constant stream of tax reform guidance, there’s been a lot to keep up with. But while you were making heads or tails of the changes to tax, your clients had their own list of challenges keeping them up at night.

Whether they got married or divorced, retired or sent a child off to college, their financial realities shifted and not just because of tax reform.

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3 lessons “It’s a Wonderful Life” can teach you about revenue recognition

Shutterstock_236107438What happens when a small business fails to comply with important regulations? In the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, a local building and loan association is in danger of failing its bank audit because of a major—but innocent—mistake by one of its officers. Are your clients in the same kind of danger as Bailey Building & Loan?

They could certainly face unnecessary disruptions if they underestimate the impact of the significant new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) revenue recognition standard and aren’t ready to tackle implementation as the rules become effective. (FASB Topic 606 is effective for nonpublic entities for annual reporting periods beginning after December 31, 2018.) Here are three lessons the movie can teach practitioners and clients before it’s too late.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like tax busy season

Shutterstock_743819602Washington, D.C., got its first taste of winter just two days after the AICPA National Tax Conference this year. In some parts of the capital, it was just a dusting of snow. For those just north of the city, it was a blanket. While CPAs bundled up, drank hot cocoa and anticipated the wonder the season always seems to bring, they were reminded of the cold months ahead where the days are shorter, but the workdays are much, much longer.

The first sign of winter is also the first sign of busy season. It’ll be here before you know it, and with tax reform implementation in full swing, you’re going to need more than a wool coat and an ice scraper to get you warmed up and out on the road in the morning.

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A recipe for success: Experiences to keep your clients coming back

Shutterstock_507199120You’re staying at a hotel in a city you’ve never visited before. After you check in and unpack your bags, you realize you’ve forgotten your pajamas and it’s too late to shop. You walk down to the lobby and mention your predicament to the front desk clerk. Sympathetically, she offers a solution. She tells you to have a seat and serves you a cup of hot tea and a perfectly warm and melty chocolate chip cookie. After just a few minutes, another staff member approaches you with a package of blue cotton pajamas. She explains they’re offered to you complementary for your stay.

Increasingly, consumers are valuing their overall customer experience much more than any tangible product or service they may receive. It’s what keeps them satisfied and coming back for more. You, too, have an opportunity to create exceptional and memorable experiences for your clients. What are you doing to keep them coming back for more? Here are three things to consider as you strive to go above and beyond for your clients:

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40 trends that the Auditing Standards Board has outlived

Shutterstock_1023868339Everyone gets pretty nostalgic on their fortieth birthday. But what if you are the Auditing Standards Board? How would you celebrate? We decided to take a light-hearted look at the trends that have come and gone over the last four decades. Join us for this ride back in time.

 Communications. In 1978, auditors didn’t have smartphones to communicate with clients. They used CB radios. Before long, the shorter car phone antenna became the status symbol of choice. Away from the car? Just page me (on my beeper). Motorola introduced a game changer in 1990: the bag phone. Soon, tech savvy CPAs were carrying a bag phone in one hand and a PalmPilot phone in the other. Fortunately, someone saw one of these CPAs in an airport and invented the Blackberry.

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