Today's Features

Tax Filing Season 2016 Ends on Positive Notes

Chart of IRS statistics for week ending April 22, 2016.
[Click for larger image]
Pros handled 58 percent of e-filings.

By CPA Trendlines

After weeks of falling statistics, the 2016 filing season closed on positives in every category but one – .

MORE ON TAX SEASON: Most Tax Season Filing Stats Down | Tax Pros Preparing 58 Percent of E-Filings | Tax Filing Trends Remain Steady | Refunds Top $200 Billion Mark | Tax Filings, Processing Remain Slower | Pros Lose Ground in E-Filing | Tax Questions Up, Filings Down

There were 136.53 million individual income tax returns filed by April 22, with the April 18 deadline falling within that week. The total returns received were up 1.7 percent from 2015. Total returns processed numbered 129.46 million, up 0.9 percent. That puts the processing rate to date at 94.8 percent.

E-filing receipts totaled 122.55 million, up 2.6 percent. Tax professionals prepared 70.86 million, up 0.5 percent, and 51.68 million were self-prepared, up 5.7 percent.


Which Social Media Should You Use?

Social media words on cubesDon't pick a platform at random. Make an informed choice.

By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook

According to Quicksprout research, 75 percent of people are somewhat likely to share content they like online with friends, co-workers and/or family members. Forty-nine percent do it at least weekly.

MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: What Is Social Media? | How Social Media Works with Accountants’ Top 5 Marketing Goals

In the same study, 86 percent of marketers stated that social media is important for their business, while 89 percent stated that increased exposure was the number one benefit of social media marketing.

Pay Varies When Performance Varies

Closeup shot of a caliper measuring the word "Goals"Plus ways to measure both objective and subjective performance criteria (yes, it can be done).

By Bill Reeb and Dominic Cingoranelli
CPA Trendlines / Succession Institute

An important point to keep in mind is that we, as human beings, have good months and bad ones, good years and bad ones.

MORE ON PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT: Accountability Requires Clear Expectations | Accountability Is for Everyone | Succession Plan Requirements | Base Retirement on Today’s Operations | Who Decides What? | How Retired Partners Are Robbing their Own Firms | How Involved Should Retired Owners Be? | Firms Say What Would Change Retirement Pay

What is going on in our personal lives has a lot to do with how we perform in our professional ones. Therefore, if someone is going through a difficult time, such as a divorce, death in the family, major conflicts with extended family, etc., we can expect those events to spill over into our work life.

Desktops vs. Laptops

Businesswoman with both desktop and laptop computers, sitting on Pilates ballPlus a note about tablets.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Getting the right mix of mobility is critical for firms today. The accounting professional’s rule of thumb is that everyone who works out of the office one day per week or more and needs to be self-contained should have a laptop as their only machine.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Right to the Root, or Why Scanners Rule | Size Matters: In Desktop Monitors

The obvious exception to this is for tax or administrative personnel who would never work from remote client sites, but have a computer at home that they can use to connect to the firm via a secure remote access solution. The string of natural disasters over the past two decades and the transition to more cloud-based applications has led to some firms making the decision that ALL professional staff will utilize a laptop as their only workstation.

Staff Likes and Dislikes about the Accounting Profession

Three young businesspeople talkingPlus 28 facilitator questions before discussing staff issues at a retreat.

By Marc Rosenberg
CPA Firm Retreats

While everyone has their own thoughts, what staff like the most and least about their jobs have some common threads.

MORE on PARTNER RETREATS for PRO Members: 25 Ways to Turn Good Firms into Great Firms | Partner Buyout 101 | 27 Tough Questions Every Firm Needs to Address | Make More Money | System vs. System: Partner Compensation Best Practices | 10 Benchmarking Missteps | How to Address Partner Compensation at a Retreat | Partner Accountability: How and for What? | 18 Essential Management Questions to Cover at a Retreat | How to Decide Who Decides What | Management Styles: Partnership vs. Corporate | 30 Marketing and Growth Questions to Cover at a Retreat | How Marketing for CPA Firms Is Different | Why Create a Marketing Plan? | Thinking of Merging? Discuss It At a Retreat | How to Take Action After a Retreat | 12 Simple Rules for a Retreat

What staff like the most READ MORE →

Hate Meeting People? Try Improv (No Joke)

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and ATwo must-read books on communication and networking.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I am a very good accountant but have problems when I speak with people I meet whom I do not know. Do you have tips for me?

MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR Q&A: Everyone Needs Strategic Planning | Help Clients, Increase Revenue: Make Sure Everyone on Staff Knows Your Firm’s Full Menu of Services | I Made Partner, Now What? | 19 Ways to Stop Wasting Reviewer Time | How to Sell Your Practice | Why Gross Is the Method for Pricing a Practice | No Go On Pro Bono | When a Client Balks at Necessary Work | How to Advise an Executor | Why Your Clients Need Annual Minutes – And How You Can Help | 14 Ways to Use Timesheet Data | Why More Firms Are Trashing Timesheets | How Much Overhead Is Too Much?

ANSWER: There are many ways to break the ice when you meet new people that I could share with you, but I just read a book about that so will recommend it to you and will now provide a brief summary of the book.

More than Just a Phone Case: An Extra Touchscreen

FlipCase research project

Piezoelectric circuitry senses touches, squeezes, swipes.

By Rick Richardson
Technology This Week

With the exception of additional battery power, most every smartphone cover is purchased for protection. But Microsoft and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria are out to show how much more a case can be.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: App Wants to Be the Uber for Filing Taxes  |   Gadget Turns Your Smartphone into a 3D Printer   |  Tabletop-Sized Touchscreen |  Beware! Public Wi-Fi Is Just Not Secure  |  ZTE Announces New Tablet-Projector Hybrid at Barcelona  |  Uber Invites App Developers to Share the Ride  | Forget about Duracell or Energizer, Buy Amazon  |  Astropad Turns any iPad into Wireless Drawing Tablet   |   Chromebooks: Low-Cost Productivity Machines |  Budget Alternative to GoPro Cameras |  Mobile Printing Breakthroughs for Accountants  |  Samsung Unveils New Flexible Batteries |  Control All Your Entertainment Devices from Your Smartphone  |  Google Announces A Slew Of New Devices  |  Radar Turns Your Smartphone into a Baseball Speed Detector |  Hydrogen-Powered iPhone Runs for a Week  |  New Pocket-Sized Projector for the CPA Road Warrior |  More Rick Richardson for PRO MEMBERS: Go PRO here

When the FlexCase is opened, it doubles as an extended touchscreen for your device that can also be flexed for unique ways to interact with your phone.


3 Non-Performance-Based Comp Systems

Businessman sitting on scales with stack of coins in other trayHint: They don't eliminate arguments.

By Marc Rosenberg
Partner Comp: Art & Science

The common thread to non-performance-based systems is that partners’ compensation is not based on their performance, but on other factors that have nothing to do with performance. There are three main systems of this type:

MORE ON PARTNER COMPENSATION: The 3 Best Partner Compensation Formulas | Why Firms Use Partner Comp Formulas | 3 Tiers of Compensation | Partner Compensation 101| What Partners Earn and How They Earn It | Partner Compensation: An Art, Not a Science | How Partners View Compensation: It’s Not All about the Money | Why Most Partner Comp Systems Are Performance-Based

  • Ownership percentage
  • Pay all partners equally, or nearly so
  • Seniority


How to Fight Flextime Saboteurs

Businesswoman holding clock in front of her faceFlexible scheduling can benefit everyone, but some people don't see it that way.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

A talented, ambitious woman who works less than full time or takes extended family leave is extremely vulnerable to being derailed professionally.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 14 Ways to Keep Sex from Wrecking Something Great | How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | 17 Ways to Follow Through on Sponsorship | Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Standards for Women Still Differ | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Beyond Mentoring to Sponsorship

Whether because she is “out of sight/out of mind,” or because people doubt her commitment, she may be disregarded for promotions or high-profile projects.