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15 posts from January 2019

How workplace trends are affecting small businesses

Shutterstock_1075401614It’s widely known that finding top-tier talent is a challenge many small CPA firms and other small businesses face. On the most recent episode of The Small Biz Brunch, a podcast from AICPA’s #CPApowered campaign, I chatted with Mark Astrinos, CPA/PFS about this issue, changing trends in the workplace and how they’re affecting bottom lines and company cultures. A business owner himself, he had some key insights into hiring and retaining top talent, especially when it comes to millennials. We’ve distilled three of those in this post (lets people know there is more info in the podcast).

It’s not just about the salary anymore.

A survey from the AICPA found that Americans would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered a salary 30% higher, but no benefits. These days, benefits – or perks – can be anything from 401(k) matches to delicious snacks in the break room. Overall, employees want to feel valued, which probably means providing more than just an appealing number on a paycheck (although, let’s be honest, that’s pretty important too).

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5 busy season curveballs heading your way

Shutterstock_49076350Thanks to the biggest overhaul to the tax system since 1986, there’s more on your plate than usual this busy season. And while you’re managing client expectations and navigating the new federal tax laws, you have to consider accounting methods changes, Wayfair concerns and a prolonged government shutdown. It’s a lot to take on. But though this busy season may feel a bit daunting, remember that no one is better equipped to handle it than you.

As you look ahead to the task at hand, remember the famous quote by Babe Ruth: “Never allow the fear of striking out to keep you from playing the game.”

So, gear up to play the game and pay special attention to these key issues.

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Data breaches are here to stay

GettyImages-543196057 (3)Data breaches are constantly in the news. Last year, Marriott, Quora and Dunkin Donuts all made headlines for privacy breaches – and that’s just to name a few. With breaches happening all the time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But it’s more important than ever to focus on data protection. In honor of Data Privacy Day, here are three ways to protect your clients’ data during tax season and all year long.

Develop an incident response plan

Is your firm ready for a cyberattack? In today’s world, it’s not about if you will experience an attack, but when. Having a prepared incident response plan means you and your staff know what to do as soon as you realize an attack happened. You’ll be able to respond faster and more efficiently. Your response plan will delegate responsibilities, detail how you will notify your clients and help mitigate any reputation damage to your firm.

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10 resources to help you cross the tax season finish line

Jan 25 blogWhen I was working in a small practice, tax season always felt like a race to me. After months of preparation, I sped toward filing deadlines that were akin to finish lines. Whether the goal was to take first place or simply get it done, I wanted to cross the line as strong and healthy as possible. That meant I had to pay close attention to my pace.

A big part of good race pacing is having supportive resources and people helping you along the way. Luckily, you have the AICPA and Tax Section team cheering you on. Here are ten resources I think will help ease the pressure this tax season.

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3 personal finance lessons the failed Fyre Festival can teach you

Shutterstock_793249471Gourmet meals. Luxury villas. Dope music. Private jets. All on a secluded Bahamian island – sounds pretty epic, right?

Fyre Festival, the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and hip hop artist Ja Rule, was expected to be an out-of-this-world, glamorous music festival. At least that’s how it was sold on social media – until festival-goers arrived on the island to find prepackaged sandwiches instead of celebrity chef-cooked meals, FEMA tents in place of the luxury villas…and no music. Needless to say, no one was happy after dropping up to $12,000 per ticket to be there.

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Don’t overlook this crucial part of estate planning

Shutterstock_590650799We live in a time when numbers are getting so large that they begin to lose meaning. Understanding just how large one million is, is hard enough; when it’s a billion? A trillion? How about 30 trillion?

We’re seeing the largest transfer of wealth in history, as $30 trillion passes to the next generations from the baby boomers over the next two decades. Those estates come in sizes big and small, but they all have one thing in common: taxes. 

In the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that took effect last year, the individual exclusion from gift/estate and generation-skipping tax was temporarily doubled, and in 2019 now stands at $11.4 million. That means a married couple has an exclusion of $22.8 million to use during their lifetime or at death. Before you go thinking that means estate taxes won’t affect the vast majority of clients, think again: the state your clients live in might not conform to the federal exclusion. It’s important to understand the major tax considerations in estate planning.

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3 reasons why all entrepreneurs should hire a CPA

Shutterstock_593385893I’ll go ahead and say it – every entrepreneur should hire a CPA. And no, I’m not just saying this because I work for the AICPA. As host of The Small Biz Brunch podcast, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with many successful business owners – and the majority say how they couldn’t have done it without their CPA. And if someone didn’t use one, they definitely wish they had. 

Read on for three good reasons why entrepreneurs should consider hiring a CPA: 

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Evolving tech could mean evolving the CPA license

Shutterstock_1023191287Throughout 2018, you heard a lot about the changing accounting profession. The biggest driver behind all this change? Technology—what it can do for us (or to us), how to use it and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

We’re using emerging technologies to deliver our core services more effectively and efficiently, and we’re evolving the services we offer to better meet the public’s, our clients’ and our employers’ needs in a technology-driven marketplace.

And so, a couple of questions arise: Are the public, our clients and our employers better served if the CPA license and licensure process evolve to better reflect the changing marketplace? If yes, what does that look like? The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA have joined forces with state regulators, state societies, practitioners and other stakeholders to figure it out.

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Tax technology: Outpacing the pace of change

Jan 15 blog postThe world is changing, but you already know that. As CPAs, we understand the quickening pace of technological, legislative and demographic changes because we see them influencing each step of our professional lives.

To be our best, we must out-maneuver and outsmart the changes that lie ahead before they ever happen. That means finding new ways to use technology to enhance what we do and how we do it.

The AICPA Tax Section recently released a Tax Technology Resource Center to help you do just that. Here are some of the highlights of how you can embrace technology trends and make the most of the exciting progression of our tax profession.

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Plan your testing schedule with 2019 CPA Exam score release dates

The 2019 score release dates are posted and a valuable resource for candidates planning their testing schedule for coming months. There are four score release dates for each testing window. For complete information regarding scoring, please visit the Exam Scoring and FAQ pages.

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy will release scores to boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates listed in the tables below. Some boards may require at least one day beyond the published target release date in the table to process and release scores.

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Don't look away! Blockchain isn't so bad..

Shutterstock_1044058180I have a confession to make. Even though I get into just about anything techie, every time I see the word “blockchain,” my eyes and brain tend to glaze over. I suspect many others have the same reaction. 

Yet, we really can’t ignore it. According to Microsoft, blockchain will change the way people think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts and sharing data. It’s expected to grow in importance and transform business operations – on the scale of email and websites. That means CPAs and their clients are going to feel its effects. Wanting to avoid being a “blockhead,” I dove in to see what blockchain is all about. Fortunately, Jim Barnes, a self-described blockchain evangelist, agreed to walk me through it.

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No more hitting the snooze button on revenue recognition

Shutterstock_549102646We realize you’re busy, but that doesn’t mean you can keep hitting the snooze button on the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) accounting standards that will soon come into effect for everyone. The accounting standard that needs your attention right now is the new revenue recognition model, issued as FASB ASU 2014-09 with subsequent amendments.

Public entities are well underway with adoption of the new revenue recognition standard, as the new guidance is effective for interim and annual periods in 2018. Private companies still have some time as the guidance is effective in 2019 for annual reporting periods, and in 2020 for interim periods. This is a wakeup call, and not an opportunity to hit the snooze button yet again.

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The government has shut down, but tax season doesn’t stop

Government shutdown blog post

On January, 15, the IRS released an updated Contingency Plan recalling 57.4% of its employees to work during the filing season shutdown. Per the new plan, excepted employees now include those whose activities are necessary for the payment of tax refunds. These activities include:

  • Processing electronic returns through issuance of refunds
  • Processing Paper Refund Tax Returns through issuance of refunds
  • Processing 1040X Amended Refund Returns Adjustments including Carrybacks, Amended Returns, Duplicate Filed Returns (DUPF), Correspondence, Injured Spouse Claims, Disaster Claims, F843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement in support of issuing refunds
  • Processing Department of Defense Claims for refunds
  • Manual Refund Support - Clerical
  • Document preparation, screening and control of work in Image Control Team

Continue reading "The government has shut down, but tax season doesn’t stop" »

5 retirement planning tips for tax clients

Blog post Jan 4Successful retirement planning is all about strategy. Analyzing sources of income, estimating expenses, choosing investments and managing assets are vital to safeguarding long-term financial comfort later in life. However, one aspect of retirement planning is sometimes overlooked — tax planning.

As a CPA, you’re already helping your tax clients with their retirement planning needs, but are you doing enough? Take a moment to review these tax considerations to make sure you’re exploring all the options with your retiring clients. Then listen to this AICPA podcast for a deeper dive into the topic.

Looking at tax as part of retirement planning

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How some taxpayers are getting grounded

Passport blogJane has a problem. She has tickets to fly to Europe next week, but her back taxes may be standing in her way.

Jane owes more than $75,000 in taxes, fees and interest to the IRS. She was aware of this substantial debt but had no idea that she could lose her passport because of it. She doesn’t understand what’s going on or what she can do.

Jane isn’t alone. The number of people receiving a Notice CP508C is growing, and more than 362,000 Americans are facing passport revocation due to significant tax debt.

One of your tax clients could be next.

Continue reading "How some taxpayers are getting grounded" »

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