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.

Continue reading "5 steps to get started with audit data analytics" »

Shake off this tax season’s pain points with these perfect pairings

May 8 blogChocolate makes a bitter coffee taste sweeter. A dry wine brings out the flavors of a well-cooked steak. Good pairings make everything better.

The same can be said for the work you do. Pairing solutions with the challenges you face can improve the final result. And this certainly applies to the most recent tax season.

We asked tax practitioners about what they experienced this spring, and in this informal AICPA Tax Section survey, we found out pretty much what we were expecting: It was a demanding one. (You can read more about the survey in this AICPA Tax Section newsletter article.)

Continue reading "Shake off this tax season’s pain points with these perfect pairings" »

A former FBI agent’s view on the recent Medicare fraud

Shutterstock_424331134Last month news broke about a wide-spread fraud that caused Medicare to lose roughly $1.2 billion. While this case is noteworthy for the huge price tag attached to it and the brazen nature in which seniors were targeted, similar scams are going on across the country that don’t get the same headlines. CPAs can play a role keeping their clients safe from fraud schemes like these by educating them on the importance of keeping their personal information safe and being cautious about who they communicate with — both online and offline.

To better understand how frauds like this work and how people can protect themselves, I spoke with Randal A. Wolverton, CPA/CFF. Wolverton is a member of the AICPA’s FLS Fraud Task Force and is a former FBI agent who specializes in financial crimes. He currently provides financial crime instructional programs to numerous local, state and federal law enforcement entities, various state and federal agencies, businesses and banking institutions and provides articles and insights on preventing fraud on his blog.

Continue reading "A former FBI agent’s view on the recent Medicare fraud " »

A solid password today keeps the hackers away

Shutterstock_400892836With identify theft becoming one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, days like World Password Day are crucial to raising awareness of online threats. I sat down with Jay Overcash, Director of IT Security Strategy, to talk about how people can protect themselves from hackers.

Why is a day like World Password Day so important?

As more and more of our lives move into the digital realm, we rely on authentication to protect our valuable online data and assets.  Usernames and passwords remain the predominant method for securing online data.  World Password Day is important as it draws attention to the need to adequately protect online data with a strong password.

Continue reading "A solid password today keeps the hackers away" »

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.

Continue reading "Keeping pace in a tax environment that never slows" »

The audit risk model: your first step in risk assessment

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

Rmm

The audit risk model is the foundation of any audit. This might seem like CPA 101, but are you correctly applying it to your engagements?

In doing so, your first consideration is your client’s risks of material misstatement (RMM), which is made up of inherent risk and control risk. As a reminder, inherent risk is the risk of material misstatement assuming no related controls, while control risk is the risk that your client’s controls won’t prevent or detect and correct a material misstatement. So how do you apply this to your audit?

Continue reading "The audit risk model: your first step in risk assessment" »

How small eco-friendly changes can mean big money in your home

April 26 sustainabilityDo you use plastic wrap to keep leftovers fresh? When you spill coffee on the floor, are paper towels your go-to clean up tool?

If you’re like me, you haven’t spent much time thinking about how disposable household products are adding to an Earth-health crisis.  

Americans produce an unsightly amount of trash each year — enough to reach to the moon and back 26 times. The worst part may be that more than 75 percent of this waste is recyclable, and 25.1 million tons of our trash is compostable food waste.

I’m guilty of adding to the problem. I used to throw out old food, plastic bags and shampoo bottles with reckless abandon. This not only caused injury to the environment but put a strain on my household’s budget.

Continue reading "How small eco-friendly changes can mean big money in your home" »

Master these 3 skills for your next video conference call

Shutterstock_1153859644For lunch meetings, there are nearby restaurants. For quick talking points over coffee, there’s your office Keurig or the coffee shop next-door. For everything else – every other type of meeting – there’s now video conferencing. The increase in work-from-home culture and the need for a more personal alternative to the standard phone call have made way for the perfect alternative: video-conferencing. Although some would see these conferences as an opportunity to be casual, it’s important to keep your professional image intact. The same reason you wouldn’t show up to your in-person business presentation wearing your pajamas might be the same reason you avoid turning on the webcam wearing a robe. To keep the other participants from gossiping about you in the private conference chat box, here are some human intelligence skills you should brush up on for your next on-camera business meeting.

Continue reading "Master these 3 skills for your next video conference call" »

How to manage clients’ high expectations for retirement

Shutterstock_156509381Mrs. and Mr. Penny are sitting in their CPA financial planner's office. Mrs. Penny, a 66-year-old community college professor, retires at the end of the school year with a modest pension. Mr. Penny, a 67-year-old construction foreman, plans to retire next year.

Neither paid much attention to their retirement savings until about five years ago, when they first engaged their CPA financial planner for tax advice.

“I hear Bora Bora is beautiful in the summers,” Mrs. Penny says to her husband, who nods and mentions taking off for the mountains in Austria after their beach trip.

Continue reading "How to manage clients’ high expectations for retirement" »

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.

Continue reading "How you can help reduce red tape for your firm" »

Why some healthcare companies are betting big on blockchain

Shutterstock_1094018936Quick -- what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word blockchain? If you said bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency, you’re not alone.  Most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrencies, trading, and remittance platforms. But blockchain technology, which serves as a digital ledger for information, is making a name for itself in several other industries. Retail, politics, and finance worlds alike are enthusiastic about the potential of blockchain. And now the healthcare industry is starting to lay some roots. Although it may not be fully ready to implement the technology yet, here are a few ways that healthcare payer and providers plan to use blockchain and thus reasons accountants should be at the forefront of groundbreaking solutions to saving billions in healthcare.”

Continue reading "Why some healthcare companies are betting big on blockchain" »

What to pack on your after-tax season getaway

MAINYou did it.

After 11 weeks of nose-to-the-grind work, you’ve successfully put another filing season behind you.

Looking back, you undoubtedly see how this year’s season was like no other. A government shutdown, tax transcript changes, new rules — you navigated them all. You’re a champion for your clients, and you deserve some time to rest and recoup.

However, this respite is limited, and you’ll be back to the grind before you know it.

As time is of the essence, here’s a list of the best places to recharge your batteries. And for a little extra help, you’ll find a few packing suggestions to ensure you have what you need when you get there.

Continue reading "What to pack on your after-tax season getaway" »

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.

Continue reading "Settling disputes: A job for artificial intelligence" »

Your tax practice could be on the edge of greatness. Push.

Shutterstock_712459222If there’s anything the past year has taught us about tax, it’s that getting too comfortable isn’t an option. Even though comprehensive tax reform doesn’t happen very often, it doesn’t take major revisions to the law to keep you on your toes. Fortunately, you can rely on items like the Tax Practitioner’s Marketing Toolkit to help you make sense of changes and engage your clients.

The past year has made for a busy season you’re probably relieved to see coming to a close. But before you break the snorkel and dive mask out of mothballs, or start browsing for the perfect vacation destination, take a good look back to assess your season while it’s fresh in your mind. How much of your work involved looking ahead for your clients? While helping them with tax planning for the coming year, how often did you run across their broader plans for the future? You might be surprised by how your answer can propel your firm to greatness.

Continue reading "Your tax practice could be on the edge of greatness. Push." »

CPAs play a leading role in financial literacy

Shutterstock_578172628Earlier this year, U.S. consumer debt reached $4 trillion for the first time ever-- with one trillion of that figure consisting of credit card debt alone, also a record high. Debt isn’t inherently bad if you have a plan to pay it off without incurring interest charges. But paying down loans competes with other financial priorities, like saving for retirement and creating an emergency fund. So, it’s no wonder that 40 percent of all Americans can’t cover a $400 financial emergency without borrowing money or selling something. Unfortunately, living paycheck-to-paycheck while struggling to pay off debt and grow their savings account is the reality for many Americans.

 

Continue reading "CPAs play a leading role in financial literacy" »

The worst busy season advice tax CPAs ever received

Shutterstock_562475698We can all use a little good advice from time to time. Whether it’s from a manager, a parent or a friend, the right guidance at the right time goes a long way.

Unfortunately, we also end up receiving unsolicited bad advice. During busy season, it’s the last thing tax practitioners need to hear, especially when it references how they should be handling their work and long hours.

You’ve probably received some second-rate advice yourself. As you think back on that, here are a few real-life pieces of bad busy season advice anonymous CPAs reported to us.

Continue reading "The worst busy season advice tax CPAs ever received" »

How to succeed in business according to female professionals

Shutterstock_488579674How do we encourage women to claim their seat at the table without having to wait for someone to pull it out? Being a woman in the workplace comes with its own set of possibilities and challenges. Yes, your perspective is unique and nuanced, but will it be supported if you’re the only woman in the room? So, how do we ensure female professionals are both heard and respected? In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Go Beyond Disruption podcast featured 13 avant-garde, innovative, and insightful women who provided the answers to these questions. Their answers covered tech and human intelligence topics, ranging from mindset adjustment all the way to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Kim Drumgo, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, shared her thoughts on what it will take for women to succeed. If you missed any of it, this is me sharing my notes. Here are some tips from trailblazing female professionals about how to succeed in business:

Continue reading "How to succeed in business according to female professionals" »

A tax practitioner’s friendly reminder on ID theft

ID Theft blog postYou knew this busy season would be a tough one. But just like every other season before it, you’ve rocked the challenge. With a little more than two weeks left to go, you’re well on your way to a hard-earned vacation.

At this point, what could go wrong? A lot if you’re not paying attention to the security of your clients’ information. 

I caught up with Minh Graham, CPA, of the AICPA Tax Practice & Ethics team, who shared her insights on the top five identity theft issues you should be considering as you head into the final stretch.

Continue reading "A tax practitioner’s friendly reminder on ID theft" »

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. 

Continue reading "Top considerations when building a business out of your home" »

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.

Continue reading "Believing in yourself: A CPA’s guide to self-trust " »

Busy season due diligence comes down to what you don’t know

Shutterstock_753092236I’m a self-professed rule follower. Except for maybe driving five miles over the speed limit on the highway, I sweat to even think about bending the rules. Most CPAs I know feel the same way. We stick to our professional rulebook, focusing on doing our due diligence and complying with each regulation like it’s our personal law. However, it’s not always easy to be a rule follower when you’re in the thick of busy season.

In my opinion, due diligence is all about using common sense, but there are additional due diligence rules — some old and some new — that are important for CPAs to remember during busy season.

Continue reading "Busy season due diligence comes down to what you don’t know" »

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.

Continue reading "Your stress isn’t just affecting you; it’s hurting business" »

The Future of Finance: How to thrive in the digital age

915179274-170667aOver the last year, I’ve hosted roundtables with hundreds of CFOs and finance leaders in cities around the world.  From Johannesburg to London to Boston, finance leaders all sang a similar tune when it came to their greatest pain point: they’re all looking to transform the finance function from a cost center to a value center. They’re keenly aware of the gap that exists between the “old world” of reporting and compliance and the “new world” of guidance and driving the business, and they want to narrow, if not entirely close, this gap.

Continue reading "The Future of Finance: How to thrive in the digital age" »

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.

Continue reading "Straighten up: Ergonomic tips for spending hours at your desk" »

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).

Continue reading "Let your humanity disrupt your technology use, not the other way around" »

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.

Continue reading "Flip or flop: Construction industry revenue recognition issues" »

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. 

Continue reading "Financial tips for female entrepreneurs" »

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?’”

Continue reading "4 ways to take charge and own your career" »

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.

Continue reading "Preparing for the future: 4 female thought leaders share insight " »

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.

Continue reading "New AICPA survey reveals clients’ top retirement fears" »

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.

Continue reading "Are you overlooking emotional intelligence in your career?" »

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.

Continue reading "Talking to clients about extensions — a tax season must-read" »

Hey managers! Your staff is stressed, and busy season isn’t entirely to blame

Shutterstock_420082801The symptoms of the flu are easy to spot: fever, cough, body ache, fatigue. When one of your employees has it, you know it. During busy season, there’s no contagion more dreaded – it can tear through your office and derail your productivity in a flash.

Well, that’s not true. There’s one thing more dangerous that’s out to infect your firm.

Stress is one of the top killers of productivity. Estimates suggest that about 550 million workdays are lost every year due to it. Compared to the flu’s 17 million lost days, that hand sanitizer on your desk may not be keeping your firm as healthy as you thought.

Continue reading "Hey managers! Your staff is stressed, and busy season isn’t entirely to blame" »

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:

Continue reading "Public speaking tips from the 91st Academy Awards" »

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?

Continue reading "Busy season grind got you down? 3 ways to reenergize." »

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.

Continue reading "Emotional rollercoaster: The psychology of starting a small firm or business" »

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.

Continue reading "Staying in love with your significant other – who’s also your business partner" »

How you can help states protect your CPA license

Advocacy blogShould the government license professions? It’s not a new question, but states across the country are taking new action in 2019. More than 30 states are considering legislation that would reduce or remove professional licensing requirements. CPAs are not exempt from this legislation.

These proposals represent a huge threat to CPA mobility. Right now, CPAs can work across state lines in 53 U.S. jurisdictions without providing any notification or paying any additional fees. CPA firms can operate the same way in 26 states thanks to CPA firm mobility.

Continue reading "How you can help states protect your CPA license" »

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.

Continue reading "How a CPA can help KonMari your finances" »

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.

Continue reading "6 funny TV shows that do taxes better than you do" »

5 reasons to keep your procrastibaking habit during busy season

GettyImages-545807004If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve probably seen posts tagged with #procrastibaking. If you aren’t familiar with the term, to “procrastibake” is to put off doing something you have to do in favor of baking. The term was featured in a New York Times article back in May and has increased in popularity ever since. And it’s a pretty likable concept – if you are a fan of sweets and don’t mind getting your hands and your kitchen a little dirty.

Sometimes you just need a break, and as you delve deeper into busy season, you may find that periodic diversions help you get more done. But why spend this time baking?

Continue reading "5 reasons to keep your procrastibaking habit during busy season" »

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.

Continue reading "IRS transcript changes: What to do now that busy season’s here" »

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).

Continue reading "How workplace trends are affecting small businesses" »

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.

Continue reading "5 busy season curveballs heading your way" »

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.

Continue reading "Data breaches are here to stay" »

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.

Continue reading "10 resources to help you cross the tax season finish line" »

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.

Continue reading "3 personal finance lessons the failed Fyre Festival can teach you" »

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.

Continue reading "Don’t overlook this crucial part of estate planning" »

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: 

Continue reading "3 reasons why all entrepreneurs should hire a CPA " »

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.

Continue reading "Evolving tech could mean evolving the CPA license" »

Cookie Consent Banner

Subscribe

Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:
Preview

CPA Letter Daily