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" »

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.

Continue reading "Tax technology: Outpacing the pace of change" »

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.

Continue reading "Plan your testing schedule with 2019 CPA Exam score release dates " »

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.

Continue reading "Don't look away! Blockchain isn't so bad.." »

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.

Continue reading "No more hitting the snooze button on revenue recognition" »

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

Continue reading "5 retirement planning tips for tax clients" »

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" »

How to avoid gift card fraud this holiday season

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

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

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

Continue reading "How to avoid gift card fraud this holiday season" »

Reflections on 2018: A year of change and opportunity

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Reflections on 2018: A year of change and opportunity" »

‘Twas the night before tax season

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

The nighttime felt heavy, and folks were up late.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While Dad stared at forms with immeasurable dread.

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

Had just settled in for the tiniest of naps.

Continue reading "‘Twas the night before tax season" »

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.

Continue reading "The world is your classroom: Build your 2019 learning plan in minutes" »

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

Continue reading "AICPA representing you in 2018 " »

4 things your clients don’t know affect their taxes

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

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

Continue reading "4 things your clients don’t know affect their taxes" »

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.

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

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.

Continue reading "It’s beginning to look a lot like tax busy season" »

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:

Continue reading "A recipe for success: Experiences to keep your clients coming back" »

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.

Continue reading "40 trends that the Auditing Standards Board has outlived" »

Americans want employers to show them the benefits

Shutterstock_648969952Today, the perfect job is about more than the money. Americans want employers to show them the benefits. New original research conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found that Americans value having a job with benefits more than one with a higher salary. Neal Stern, CPA and member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, spoke to AICPA Insights about the survey results and shared what you should keep in mind with respect to your own workplace benefits.

According to the survey, Americans are four times as likely to choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30 percent more salary but no benefits. What’s your reaction to this?

Neal Stern: I find it encouraging that so many Americans recognize the value workplace benefits bring to an overall financial plan. Some benefits, like health insurance, protect you from exposure to tremendous expenses that could seriously derail your financial wellness. These benefits often come at a lower cost than what it would take to buy the coverage on your own. This is largely because of employer subsidies and possibly more favorable pricing through a group, which leaves you more breathing room in your monthly budget. Looking beyond the financial benefit of a broad benefits package, it’s hard to over-estimate the value of peace of mind you get from being free of the worry of catastrophic expenses from an accident or illness.

Continue reading "Americans want employers to show them the benefits" »

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?

Continue reading "Wine, cheese and revenue recognition for everyone" »

3 tasks your organization can automate to save time

Shutterstock_695563669By now, you’ve heard how automation can save you from the boredom of copying and pasting all day. But you might still be wondering what processes your organization can automate to save time. Look no further. Here are three areas finance and accounting professionals can look at as automation opportunities.

Credit applications

Still running credit checks manually? There’s a solution for that. With automation software, your customers can go from application to decision in a matter of minutes, often without any direct involvement from you.

Continue reading "3 tasks your organization can automate to save time" »

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.

Continue reading "4 tips to identify audit client risks" »

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. 

Continue reading "Think sustainability’s unsustainable? Think again. " »

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.

Continue reading "Your life. Your terms: Four steps for reducing stress and reclaiming your life" »

5 tips to help small business clients prevent cyberfraud

Shutterstock_1017233524Imagine you’re at work on a typical Monday morning. Suddenly, an email from the CEO hits your inbox. It’s marked ‘urgent,’ so you open it right away. She needs you to wire $15,000 to one of your regular vendors ASAP. You make the wire transfer, and head to the break room to refill your coffee. There’s just one problem – that email wasn’t really from your CEO. And that bank account where you sent the funds? That’s not your vendor’s account. You just sent thousands of dollars to a cyber criminal. Uh oh.

It’s a scheme called executive impersonation, a type of business email compromise (BEC) scheme mentioned in an SEC alert issued last month. Unlike a typical scam email, which may have poor grammar or overly suspicious requests, BEC scams are convincing because the criminals spend time figuring out the corporate culture and common phrases and terms used by employees. CPAs should take note, because scammers could try to perpetrate a similar fraud against their small business clients.

Continue reading "5 tips to help small business clients prevent cyberfraud" »

The secret to less copying and pasting – Robotic Process Automation

GettyImages-459689741Remember the last time you copied information from one system and put it into another? Wasn’t that three hours of Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V fun? It wasn’t? Sounds like you might want to look at robotic process automation (RPA) then.

The name is long and slightly intimidating, but the actual use of RPA isn’t. Despite the name, the technology is accessible and easily integrated into your existing platforms. It increases efficiency and reduces mistakes. This means you can be more productive and can spend more time using your higher-value skills like data analysis.

So how can you get started using RPA?

Continue reading "The secret to less copying and pasting – Robotic Process Automation" »

Licensure under fire in the states

GettyImages-159754158A powerful narrative is taking shape across the country that could define the future of licensure. State legislators are coming together to challenge the necessity and value of occupational licensing. 

So far, there have been no direct challenges to whether CPAs should be licensed. However, there’s a national anti-licensure legislative strategy that does not distinguish between occupations and learned professions such as CPAs.

The changing legislative environment means we risk losing licensure as a means to protect the public. That would mean no licensed architects, no licensed engineers and no licensed CPAs. We’ve spent decades ensuring that only qualified and educated professionals can hold out as CPAs. Clients trust CPAs to act as their fiduciaries because they know the profession is well regulated.

Continue reading "Licensure under fire in the states " »

Cookie Consent Banner

Subscribe

Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:
Preview

CPA Letter Daily