569 posts categorized "Guest Blogger" Feed

Developing a resilient staff who’s ready for anything

Shutterstock_125165846Five years ago, could you have predicted the challenges you and your team would face in 2019? And if you had a crystal ball, what challenges would you see approaching over the next five years? The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) team asked firms of all sizes to predict their top challenges between now and 2024 in the 2019 PCPS Firm Top Issues Survey. They say they’d be most affected by staffing, emerging technologies, competition, changing client needs and the regulatory environment within the next half-decade.

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3 FAQs on the hosting services ethics interpretation

IStock-475647111When I started working in public practice more than 20 years ago, “the cloud” referred to something in the sky, not storing data over the internet. Things have changed. Our profession has and continues to benefit from technological advances like the cloud, and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct is evolving just as practice is.

The code was written before wide adoption of current technological advances. To keep pace with change, we’ve developed guidance for members who act as custodians of their clients’ information—members who store and maintain their clients’ information for them.

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Millennials are changing our tax practices. Here’s how

MAIN IMAGE Millennial BlogMillennials are everywhere.

As the largest generation of Americans ever, they seem to be changing every aspect of our society. They’re influencing marketing trends, technological advancements, politics, travel, food — there’s little that isn’t affected by this generation’s unique way of doing things.

They are affecting your tax firm too — even if you don’t realize it yet.

Millennial tax clients are few and far between for most of us. Generally, their taxes aren’t yet complex enough to warrant our services. But as this age group acquires wealth, we’ll begin to see more and more of them walking through our doors.

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Father’s Day wisdom: A CPA dad’s advice

Shutterstock_1074903578In 1981, Paul Stahlin, CPA, CGMA, and a former Chair of the AICPA, got his CPA license. Thirty-three years later, his daughter Emily followed in his footsteps by becoming a CPA as well.

The CPA profession of today isn’t the same as the profession of 1981. Technological innovation has created new opportunities for CPAs to provide value and has even changed how CPAs deliver core services. But even throughout all this change, some lessons Paul has learned in his career still ring true today. In honor of Father’s Day, Paul wrote this letter to Emily to share his advice on how she can thrive in her career as a CPA.

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Implementing RPA is easier than you think

Shutterstock_1188695923Robotic process automation (RPA) has advanced quickly in just a few years. In a short amount of time, both the number of RPA providers and the range of capabilities have greatly increased.  So much so, it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes.

This leads to the misconception that RPA is either too complicated, too costly, too technical or simply too difficult, for small or medium-sized businesses to put in place. While these statements may have once been true, that is no longer the case. Today, the wide variety of available options mean RPA is now for everyone. The barriers to entry have dropped so now is the right time to reconsider how automation can help your business.

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5 steps to get started with audit data analytics

GettyImages-629666944If your firm hasn’t started using audit data analytics yet, it’s time to get on board. Audit data analytics (ADAs) are a technique that can help you leverage current technologies and move toward a more data-driven approach to planning or performing an audit.

How? ADAs help you discover and analyze patterns, identify anomalies and extract other useful information from audit data through analysis, modeling and visualization. You can use ADAs to perform a variety of procedures to gather audit evidence.

What that means for you: You can focus more of your time and energy on analyzing your data, understand more of what’s happening at your client’s organization and often analyze an entire population of data instead of just a sample.

Getting started with new techniques and technologies can be overwhelming, especially if you’re comfortable with your traditional method—and you may have concerns about using ADAs while complying with audit standards. However, we have a few resources and tips to show how you can comply with the standards while performing your audits with ADAs. Get started with these five steps.

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Keeping pace in a tax environment that never slows

May 1 blog postTax practitioners are on the frontline of change, and because of that, we’re constantly evolving our businesses. It’s a big ask, and we’re doing a great job keeping up. However, the changes continue to come, and not everything is matching our pace.

The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) were last updated almost ten years ago, and in that time, our profession has transformed dramatically. As a result, the current SSTSs don’t reflect today’s practice environment. What do we do when the standards we rely on to do our jobs no longer suit our needs?

We change the standards. Together.

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How you can help reduce red tape for your firm

GettyImages-626953732 (8)Running a CPA firm today has plenty of challenges. As business clients expand their operations at an accelerated pace, CPAs must monitor multi-level tax compliance, international treaties and a host of global accounting and reporting standards. CPAs also stay current on technical standards and find, recruit, train and retain top talent in a competitive economy. We adjust our work models to align with the values of a new workforce, invest heavily in technology and develop new service offerings to meet client needs, all while combating shrinking profit margins. As a profession, we are more than capable of overcoming these challenges.

Of all these challenges, there is one that can be simplified: CPAs’ and CPA firms’ ability to seamlessly cross state lines to provide services to clients.

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Settling disputes: A job for artificial intelligence

Shutterstock_1104230930If you have siblings, you’ll remember the need for a third party to referee the most important of childhood disputes. Whether you were calling ‘shotgun’, fighting over the television remote or reluctantly sharing the last chocolate chip cookie, an adult often had to step in. Consider this one of the oldest versions of conflict-resolution training.

I know we’ve been telling you that most human skills are future-proofed and safe from automation, but there are some exceptions. Soon parents, caretakers, camp counselors, managers and judges alike may be able to retire their gavels and hand over decision-making duties to artificial intelligence bots. That’s right. In recent years, new tools supported by artificial intelligence are being used to mediate select legal, insurance and even personal matters. Innovations like Kids Court (an Alexa skill) and Smartsettle ONE are already doing the work. In time, similar tools may be adopted to mediate workplace squabbles. I don’t know about you, but that leaves me with some questions.

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Top considerations when building a business out of your home

Shutterstock_615508904Whether you’re an Etsy shop owner or a CPA seeing clients out of your home office, there are a variety of things that vary from owning a brick and mortar business. I recently spoke with Kelly Ward, CPA and co-owner of Robinson & Ward, P.C., on The Small Biz Brunch podcast, and she provided the following tips for entrepreneurs looking to build a business out of their home. 

Don’t wait to invest in a trusted adviser

Instead of waiting until you’re drowning in financial problems, Ward recommends seeking out an expert’s advice at the very beginning. For example, it’s a lot easier to prepare for certain tax implications before launching your business, rather than paying a huge tax bill come April. A CPA can help prepare entrepreneurs depending on their situation so there aren’t any surprises – because let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than getting surprise in the mail from the IRS. 

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Believing in yourself: A CPA’s guide to self-trust

Shutterstock_1181443744The alarm clock beeps annoyingly at 6 a.m., and I lay frozen knowing that the decision I make today will determine how the next chapter of my life plays out. A few months ago, I realized I wasn’t happy with my role at work. Each day, I dreaded getting out of bed and looked forward to the weekend like I’ve been jailed all week. So today, I plan to decide once and for all if I’m going to quit my job and find something new.

But doubts and questions creep into my brain. What if I don’t like my new role? What if I’m not good at anything else? What if no one wants to hire me? I think, that’s it. I’m staying where I’m. It’s stable, and I will learn how to tough it out. I breathe a sigh of relief and contentedly maintain my status quo.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you made choices that were based more on what you were trying to avoid than what you could gain? The reality is that most of us use a fear-based decision matrix to choose the option that will cause the least amount of disruption in our lives. It’s not that surprising when you consider how we’re raised — “Don’t touch that stove, or you’ll get burned.” We inherently associate decision-making endeavors with a need to avoid a negative outcome.

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Your stress isn’t just affecting you; it’s hurting business

GettyImages-183219193Did you know that the effect of one mild-to-moderately stressful event can last hours in the body? What if you added to that by the barrage of demanding emails, last-minute deadlines, family obligations and a never-ending list of errands? As you can see here, when combined with other demands, that one stressor can last days, weeks, months and even years in your body.

The longer we hold this pressure inside us, the more we begin to feel its physical and mental effects. It starts with a small unease of the body, such as irritability, constipation, acne, low energy and low libido. When I speak with my fellow cohort of CPAs, I learn it gets much worse. Many colleagues around you are suffering from auto-immune disorders, infertility, diabetes, mild depression, anxiety and so much more that are compounded by stress. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. Burnout is real and can spread like wildfire.

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Straighten up: Ergonomic tips for spending hours at your desk

Shutterstock_1096655930 - CopyIf you’re sitting at your desk while reading this blog post, it could wind up being a real pain in your neck.

Is your desk setup uncomfortable? Do you have a twinge in your back, neck, wrists or fingers? These aches and pains could be related to the way you’re sitting or the positioning of your office furniture.

Since it’s busy season, you’re spending some quality time (likely 60+ hours a week) at your desk. Why not make sure your setup is ergonomically sound? You can do this without difficulty. The investment will be well worth it, not only for your health but also for your overall well-being.

The goal is to create an environment where your body is in a neutral position that doesn’t cause added tension — you have enough mental strain as it is right now. And in case you were wondering, flopping down on your sofa with a laptop doesn’t qualify as ‘ergonomic.’ But below are some tips that are.

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Let your humanity disrupt your technology use, not the other way around

Shutterstock_675630538Ping! Behold: the sound of the first morning email. Unfortunately, that undeniable sign of the work day starting is the exact kind of wakeup call you needed. I wouldn’t say rolling out of bed at 7AM is the easiest thing after a late-night session of mindless scrolling, but hey, you spent the entire previous day responding to emails and fixing that PowerPoint pitch for your client. You deserve a little tech-fueled R&R. “Alexa, play ‘Island in the Sun’”

Your life is complex, and technology has been there for you, simplifying it every step of the way, right? It helps you get up for work, it helps you do your work, it helps you socialize and plan. What’s not to love? So, you mosey on to the bathroom mirror, eyes still glued to the screen, stumbling with exhaustion, and there it is. There’s that embarrassing weekly notification: “You average 8h 46m of screen time a day!” (I don’t know if Android users get these, so if not, here’s a glimpse of the dark side).

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Flip or flop: Construction industry revenue recognition issues

GettyImages-133910674Many people enjoy watching DIY shows where homes in disrepair are transformed from shabby to chic in less than an hour. If only the real world worked the same as DIY TV. Firms would be able to get clients implementing revenue recognition during advertisement breaks for hardware stores and home decor

Sadly, that’s not the case. Now that we’re in 2019, the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) new revenue standard is no longer an event on the distant horizon for nonpublic entities. It’s now front and center. The new revenue standard is applicable to all industries, however some are expected to be more significantly affected than others. One of these industries is construction.

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Financial tips for female entrepreneurs

Shutterstock_416503771As the host of The Small Biz Brunch podcast, I’ve interviewed some amazing entrepreneurs and CPAs who are changing the world. When I reflect on episodes I’ve recorded over the past six months, some of my favorite have been about women disrupting their industries and paving the way for future generations. And while it’s important to celebrate female entrepreneurs throughout the year, Women’s History Month provides a timely platform for important conversations. 

I recently chatted with Lindsay Stevenson, CPA, CGMA, founder of Origin Evolution and Rachel McGirt, co-founder of Healthy Girls Save the World, a program for middle school girls that promotes “healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy relationships.” We discussed financial challenges specific to female entrepreneurs (for example, how to get funding), and ways to overcome them. Here are the top two tips Stevenson and McGirt provided. 

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4 ways to take charge and own your career

Shutterstock_1121928752For many professionals, it’s a challenge to maintain work and life balance, but one trailblazing CPA was able to break the mold. By creating opportunities for herself, she opened new paths for other professionals, especially women, to follow.

When Katy Hollister, CPA, chief strategy officer for Deloitte’s Global Tax and Legal practice, approached what might have been an immovable barrier at work, she was able to change the course of her career —and key policies of her organization, too.

It’s a story from many years ago with a timeless lesson. In 1990, Hollister was a manager at Deloitte Tax, LLP for about six years and was pregnant with her first child. She was concerned about balancing parenthood and her existing responsibilities. At that time, the firm, like much of the profession and the business world, had no women’s initiatives or formal programs for working mothers. When Hollister asked her office’s managing partner about a part-time schedule once her child was born, he pointed out that the firm didn’t have part-time options. “I said, ‘How about if we try it?’”

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Preparing for the future: 4 female thought leaders share insight

Shutterstock_1294838686Disruption is no longer a theory. It’s not an imaginary future with a “TBA” label waiting to be updated. You’ve seen the bots with your own eyes, so you know this isn’t a tall tale by a weirdo neighbor sitting on their front porch with antennas attached to an aluminum hat. The decreased need for traditional skills like memorizing and number-crunching, complemented by thinning attention spans indicate a radical change in work style. We are in the thick of the age of disruption. The Go Beyond Disruption podcast, your personal cheat code to beating the bots, celebrates Women’s History Month by chatting with female guest experts in technology and human intelligence.

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New AICPA survey reveals clients’ top retirement fears

Shutterstock_583696213A variety of factors and special situations make each individual’s retirement preparations unique. And because of that, there is no one-size-fits-all retirement plan to maximize enjoyment during your golden years. However, when it comes to retirement planning fears, people have more in common than they might think. The AICPA’s recent Personal Financial Planning Trends Survey explored what factors are impacting clients’ retirement planning peace of mind. When compared to benchmark responses from 2016, we’re able to see how some things have changed while others have held steady.

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Are you overlooking emotional intelligence in your career?

Shutterstock_542556157You’re in the office and see a colleague approaching. You likely say hi and ask how they’re doing. Your colleague will likely answer with some rendition of good, great or for those who prefer grammatical accuracy, ‘doing well.’ Are they actually great, or did your colleague just lie to you? Many people respond without giving much thought to the question. They may say they’re doing great as they struggle to hold in sadness, frustration or anger. What happens when you read between the lines using your emotional intelligence (EI)? Communication becomes more personal and meaningful when the parties exhibit EI. Being able to transcend normal interactions using EI is becoming increasingly important as technology advances to complete mundane tasks. Machines may be taking parts of our jobs but using our human attributes to be a team player, is more important than ever before.

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Talking to clients about extensions — a tax season must-read

Shutterstock_1201562083Welcome to the midpoint of busy season. It’s been a long road, and you’ve got quite a ways left to go. Luckily, the finish line is in sight.

Or is it? Unfortunately, not everyone’s tax returns will be filed by April 15 as planned.

Many of your clients are still making sense of the new tax laws and pending guidance stemming from tax reform. They’ve weathered a prolonged government shutdown. They’re confused and not sure they can get everything done on time.  

You’re feeling it, too. On top of these complications, you’re dealing with an increased workload during an already compressed busy season. Sometimes there’s not much you can do except prep your clients for plan B.

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Public speaking tips from the 91st Academy Awards

Shutterstock_1178502256It is highly unlikely that you’ll live a life free of public speech obligations. Team meetings, board meetings, pitches, presentations, toasts and the like, will all call on you to dig into yourself (extrovert or not) to publicly drive home a meaningful message. Consider this ability to connect to people, and move them with your words, one of the skills you’ll need to remain an asset in future workplaces.

So how do we keep from becoming the living version of Charlie Brown’s boring, seemingly gibberish-speaking teacher? We watched the 91st Academy Awards and took notes from some of the best presenters and speeches to help you get it right. Here are five tips from Oscar-winning pros:

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Busy season grind got you down? 3 ways to reenergize.

Shutterstock_376060666Late nights. Working weekends. Scads of electronic files. If you’re REALLY unlucky, stacks of paperwork. No one ever said busy season was a walk in the park, but you don’t have to let it sap your energy. And since the season doesn’t get easier as it goes, you need all the energy you can get. What’s a busy CPA to do to? We have three suggestions to help you beat back the busy season blues.

  1. Get organized

This might sound pretty basic, but the realities of good organization are more complex than you might think. You likely already have a system set up for getting your work done, whether prioritized by clients or groups of clients, promised engagement due dates, etc. But are you thinking about that system on a daily basis?

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Emotional rollercoaster: The psychology of starting a small firm or business

Shutterstock_78267379Do you feel destiny may be calling you to something? Perhaps you’re thinking about a long overdue job change. Maybe you’re being tapped for partner or you’re exploring starting that firm you’ve always wanted to build from the ground up. As you’d expect, starting a firm or any business comes with many intricacies. Some are big details, like funding and office space, and building the right client base. Other details can wait, yet are still important, like setting up utilities, registering with your federal, state and local governments and regulatory boards (if applicable) and marketing your business.

One thing you might not have considered as you think about branching out is your own mindset. What’s keeping you from moving forward? There’s a psychology to owning your own firm. Here, we explore emotions, from fear and uncertainty to courage and enthusiasm.

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Staying in love with your significant other – who’s also your business partner

Shutterstock_570149110It’s Valentine’s Day, and you deserve a virtual high-five for being extra thoughtful this year. You put together a romantic dinner with candles, music, their favorite dessert – the whole nine yards.

And then you hear the love of your life, your main squeeze, yell from the shared home office, “Hey! Did you remember to pay the contractor?” Well, so much for that intimate evening sans work.

Turning your romantic partner into a business partner might sound like a struggle, especially when it comes to setting boundaries. However, with the right amount of agreed-upon expectations from the start, coupled with consistent, proactive and honest communication along the way, it is possible to succeed in both love and business.

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How a CPA can help KonMari your finances

Shutterstock_736968295Anyone else feel a tad bit inadequate after watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix? If you haven’t heard of the series, during each episode, organizing expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out clutter in their lives with her KonMari method. Before watching I thought I was a relatively neat person, but now I have a tiny voice in my head yelling, “WOW, STAND THAT UP VERTICALLY, YOU SLOB,” every time I put away laundry.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about how we can apply some of Kondo’s tactics to another aspect of life that may need some work: money.

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6 funny TV shows that do taxes better than you do

Shutterstock_713060872There are 77 days between the start of busy season and the April 15 deadline this year. That’s an uncomfortably long — or as some would suggest, uncomfortably short — amount of time for taxes.

It just so happens that 77 days is also the total amount of time the average American adult spends watching television every year. If you’re a tax practitioner, you’re probably not getting a lot of those days in right now.

During busy season, you have a limited number of hours to watch the best programming available. You need to be sure you’re taking advantage of the precious free time you have and getting only the good stuff.

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IRS transcript changes: What to do now that busy season’s here

Shutterstock_1099316927Busy season is here.

If you’re a tax practitioner, you’re no doubt gearing up for what lies ahead. A big part of busy season prep is making sense of the recent changes to IRS transcripts and the resulting steep transcript learning curve. You may be wondering if you can still get the information you need to serve your clients.

While complex, cumbersome and somewhat confusing, transcripts are incredibly helpful. Authorized tax practitioners can assess a taxpayer’s overall standing with the IRS by reviewing one or a combination of four types of transcripts: tax return, tax account, record of account, and wage and income.

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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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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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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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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

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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.

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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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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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Wine, cheese and revenue recognition for everyone

Shutterstock_1081684592If you think the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) new revenue recognition standard is only applicable to those in the wine and cheese crowd, think again. The standard impacts companies of all sizes, from specialty shops to corporate lenders. You don’t need to be in an industry with specialized revenue to turn your attention to the new standard. At the Center for Plain English Accounting, we’ve been receiving questions from practitioners on their client’s behalf for some time now. We picked out a couple and provided answers to help you understand the new standard (ASC 606).

How to identify performance obligations under the new standard.

Question: My client runs a direct sales gourmet cheese business. Individuals who join the Cheese Club pay a monthly membership subscription fee of $49.95 and receive $49.95 each month in “Mozzarella Moola” to spend whenever they please. Members of the Cheese Club also receive 25% off all purchases and receive exclusive early access to purchase new products. In this scenario, what are the performance obligations?

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4 tips to identify audit client risks

Shutterstock_729823828This blog post is the second in a series on risk assessment, a significant audit quality issue. View the first blog post here

Anyone who owns a home has had some experience with lawn care. Maintaining a healthy lawn is easy when you have a lush field of bluegrass, but when things start to get patchy, that’s where the real work comes in. That’s when you have to get a good understanding of what is going on with your lawn and what might be causing the patches. Only then can you pick the right treatment.

Auditing a set of financial statements is no different. To perform an effective audit, you must first gain an understanding of your client and identify their specific financial reporting risks. Until these steps are complete, you have no basis for planning the rest of your audit procedures.

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Think sustainability’s unsustainable? Think again.

IStock-614011264As a CPA, you build strong relationships with your small business clients, so you’re not surprised when one of your clients, who is running a startup, asks for a meeting to talk about her goals for the coming year and beyond. She is looking to enable growth by attracting new investors, to continue recruiting quality talent and to differentiate the company in the marketplace by giving it a competitive edge going forward. You want to help, but where do you start?

Rethinking the business  

While such goals can sometimes seem daunting, you know that there are simple steps she can take to improve her chances of achieving all three: Make changes that ensure her company is operating in a sustainable manner. There are some direct results of embracing greater sustainability. These include fostering innovation, driving financial performance and improving risk management, according to a Harvard Business Review article. Other benefits include improved brand image, greater appeal to employees and investors and increased ability to comply with regulations. 

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Your life. Your terms: Four steps for reducing stress and reclaiming your life

Shutterstock_603744017Life is stressful, there’s no doubt about it. But you have the choice to maintain a different perspective, instead of letting stress overtake you every day. Here are four steps to reduce stress and live a well-balanced life:

Step one: Get clear on your purpose

Living life on your own terms requires clarity of purpose. Do you know what matters to you most, and why?  Consider the life wheel. There are eight buckets on the wheel: family, work, money, personal growth, health and wellness, spirituality, community and living environment. You must decide which three or four are most important to you, and why. Time is limited, which means you can’t weight all life areas equally. When you know your “what” and your “why,” you’ve got power—the power to dial up the time and energy for what matters most, and the power to pull back on what doesn’t.

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