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Busy Season 2015: Headaches from Obamacare

‘ACA is PITA BS for CPAs.’ Next year’s plan: ‘Become a monk.’

Next question: The smartest moves this busy season? Join the survey; get the results

By CPA Trendlines Research

As Busy Season 2015 grinds down, tax prep professionals are grappling with myriad and continuing issues with new rules, thin staffing and difficult clients, according to the CPA Trendlines annual Busy Season Barometer. But the new Affordable Care Act seems to be causing the most widespread aches and pains among accountants.


‘Selling’ Isn’t a Dirty Word

Don’t like selling? Call it something else.

Martin Bissett

Martin Bissett

By Martin Bissett
Understanding Selling

Being a successful person according to your own measurement of that, and your own goals and your own standards, is different for everyone.

If you’re comfortable with yourself, it’s very likely that others will be too. If you understand the value that you offer (how you can improve a client’s situation to move them closer toward their personal and professional aspirations), you’re likely to be able to convey that value in front of a prospect. That’s a huge part of successful business development that is not often talked about. READ MORE →

How Accounting Geeks and Techie Nerds Can Play Nicely Together



The budget demands it.

By Donny C. Shimamoto
Strategic Technology Decisions

Over the next few weeks, CPA Trendlines will present a series of articles based on conversations with Donny C. Shimamoto, CPA.CITP, and a leading advisor to CPA firms, that will look at issues in strategic technology budgeting for 

1. personnel,
2. hardware,
3. software,
4. licensing and subscriptions to IT-related services,
5. capital vs. operating vs. project expenditures, and
6. the IT asset lifecycle.

We’ll look at ways to use cloud computing to reduce costs and smooth budgets. These articles will offer concrete solutions whenever possible, but often they can do no more than suggest issues that geeks and nerds need to make relevant to their organizations. The solutions are as varied as the problems. And step one, as they say, is to recognize that there’s a problem. Shimamoto’s ideas are worth examining, and they inspire additional thoughts and questions.

Accounting geeks and IT nerds are folks from different countries, different cultures, different ways of life.

They speak different languages and they have different objectives within their organization. The accountants will never fathom – nor should they have to fathom – the hardware and software needs of the IT department. Likewise, IT has more important things to do than deal with the intricacies of accounting. READ MORE →

In a Pinch, Use Your Phone as a Scanner

Epson WorkForce DS-510 Sheetfed Scanner

Epson WorkForce DS-510 Sheetfed Scanner

With upfront scanning, 78% leverage on-screen review.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless 

One of the keys to optimizing accounting firm production processes is capturing information at its “root” source – the moment data enters your firm, regardless of the format – mail, fax, email or on a flash drive.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Standardize QuickBooks Support for Clients | How to Choose the Right Client Portal Solution | Automating Bank Deposits Offers Instant ROI | How to ‘Go Digital’ when Partners Demand Monthly P&Ls on Paper | Digital Tools Streamline Audit Production | Tech Tools for Today’s Properly Equipped Field Audit Teams | How to Cut Tax Prep Costs with Scanners | Why Firms Need Document Retention Standards | Intranet Is the Best Place for Firm Knowledge

Ideally, documents would be delivered already in a digital format such as email attachments or preferably through a portal, but the reality today is that a significant portion of accounting firm source documents arrive from clients in a physical paper format. Your firm will need to develop processes to efficiently scan, name and store these documents. READ MORE →

CPA Trendlines Subscribers Sound Off About 2015 Self-Filers

bullhornSome predict those clients will be coming back for cleanup.

Tax professionals are sounding off in CPA Trendlines Comments on an apparent upsurge in do-it-yourself amateur self-filers while e-filing by professionals is lagging last year’s rates for four straights weeks so far.

Bea Nahon


“Interesting that self-prepared is up and professionally prepared is down on a YTD basis,” says Bea Nahon, a Bellevue, Wash., CPA, and long-time advocate of women’s and small-firm interests.

“Is that because business is shifting to the do-it-yourselfers?,” Nahon says. “I suspect instead it’s due to the professionals bogged down in the mire of the TPR regulations. And the increasing trend of fraudulent self-prepared returns,”

“In fact,”Nahon adds alarmingly, “some of those self-prepared returns are likely going to turn out to be our clients, which we don’t discover until we attempt to e-file.”


Quote With Care When Asked for Valuation

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and A12 issues that might not have been addressed.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I was asked to do a quote on a business valuation for a startup that will be raising money on their second stage financing. How do I quote this?

ANSWER: This is a wide-reaching question and it is not possible to know initially what the client really needs. They could need a valuation, a business plan or a method of bringing in the investor.

Here are some of the many issues and variables:

Tax Pros Start to Make Up for Lost Ground in Pace of 2015 E-Filing

IRS processing nearly 98 percent of returns received.

Tax professionals e-filed more than 38 million returns through March 13, lagging 3.4 percent from the same time in 2014. Yet, that’s an improvement from last week’s 4 percent deficit.

RELATED: Have Fun This Tax Season! | Tax Preparation Fees: The National Averages [INFOGRAPHIC] | IRS Form 3115: a Sin and a Travesty | How to Get Paid Faster This Tax Season | Accountants See Solid Business Gains in 2015 | As Market Share Slips Away, Accountants Look Beyond the 1040 | IRS Emerges as Major Tax Season Competitor | Tax Pros Losing Market Share to Self-Filers

Last week, CPA Trendlines reported that the industry’s 33.4 million e-filings accounted for 53.6 percent of all the e-filed returns, compared with 56 percent in 2014. READ MORE →

15 Items for Your ‘Business Bucket List’

A vintage wooden bucket with metal ring supports and a handle and a aged paper attached to the front that reads "bucket list"If you don’t dream big for your business, who will?

By Sandi Smith Leyva
The Accountant’s Accelerator

Do you have a business bucket list?

Did you see the movie “The Bucket List”? Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson played men who didn’t have too long to live. They each wrote up a bucket list, a list of things they wanted to do or accomplish before they kicked the bucket (as we say in the South).

Why not apply the concept to your business? You can do this whether you have your own business or a job, although you have a bit more control when you’re the boss. What do you want to do before you retire or sell your business?

Here are 15 ideas: READ MORE →

Going Radical: The 4 Tenets of a ‘New Firm’

Happy young businessman jumping in tornadoThere are 4 keys, but they come down to meeting needs.

By Jody Padar
The Radical CPA

People often ask me: What makes a firm a “New Firm?” There are four fundamental tenets.

MORE ON RADICALISM: Why Should CPAs Be Radical? | The Roots of ‘Radical’ CPAs | The First 3 Questions I Should Have Asked Before Starting My Own Practice

These four tenets, although adopted dif­ferently within each firm, compromise a new set of values that most of the “movement” firms embrace. Ready? Here we go:

When ‘Quick and Easy’ Tax Season Research Isn’t

Businessman is dialing  phone for adviceFour reasons not to let one question stop a tax return in its tracks.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

I keep a few of the one-volume tax guides in my office so I could look up a quick answer when I need to. Recently a golf buddy emailed me a question that I thought I could answer quickly. He wanted to know that if he was in the “zero” percent capital gains tax bracket, did that apply to an unlimited amount of capital gains? Sounds like a simple question.

MORE ON TAX SEASON: 5 Personal Touches for Tax Season | Consistency Simplifies Tax Season | 11 Clear Client Instructions to Make Your Tax Season Easier | 3 Ways to Build a Tax Season Team | Have Fun This Tax Season | How to Get Paid Faster This Tax Season

Well I looked it up online and then in three one-volume tax guides. Only one source had thorough coverage of the issue. I ended up spending an hour on this “simple” question including my emailed response. Nothing is simple anymore.  READ MORE →

You Want Goodwill Payments? Give Proper Retirement Notice

Older man and younger man having meeting at deskNo transition – no goodwill.

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

If there is one takeaway in retirement planning, it would be this: “No transition – no goodwill.” Here’s what I mean.

MORE ON RETIREMENT: Retirement Plan Funding? What Funding? | Vesting Can Cover Part-Timers, Too | Compromise Is In Order for Some Goodwill Payouts | When Retiring Partners Take a Specialty With Them | If Clients Leave, Do You Reduce Retirement Benefits? | Three Ways to Calculate Goodwill Payable in Partner Buyouts, None of Them Great | Eat What You Kill? Then Maybe ‘Book of Business’ Is for You | The Ins and Outs of AAV for Goodwill | 5 Points to Consider When Paying Out Goodwill | Clients Leaving? Time to Reduce Retirement Benefits | 4 Ways to Decide How to Pay Out Capital | Partners May Balk at Guaranteeing Retirement Obligations

The best of times and the worst of times…

With apologies to Charles Dickens, who famously opened his classic “A Tale of Two Cities” with the above, here are two real experiences I had regarding transition, one of which was the best example of retiring partner transition I’ve ever seen and one the worst.


IT Hardware Gets Even More Complex (Great!)

Young businessman drawing computer network against server backdropSome questions for both accountants and IT.

By Donny C. Shimamoto
Strategic Technology Decisions

Budget season is a good time for accountants and IT wonks to get together for a heart-to-heart about hardware. Computers and peripherals aren’t like the hardware of yore. They’re omnipresent in the organization. They have strings attached. They have special issues in obsolescence. Sometimes it’s hard to draw a line between hardware and software.

RELATED: How Accounting Geeks and Techie Nerds Can Play Nicely Together

Here is a suggested a series of questions that accountants and IT wonks should address as they make budget decisions. Here are a few of the ones that relate to hardware: READ MORE →

Mentor or Sponsor? How to Distinguish Roles

Business partners smiling in an urban settingPlus 18 ways to help.

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

The practice of mentorship is well known and well established in today’s workplace. A mentor is someone who helps a more junior person learn, develop and achieve her professional goals.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Is Sponsorship Right for Your Firm? | And Now, a Few Words About Sex (and 14 Tips) | Make Flexible Scheduling Work for Everyone | Your Protégée Needs Your Feedback |  9 Ways to Promote Your Protégée to Others | 8 Ways to Help Your Protégée Focus on Career Opportunities | How to Start an Effective Sponsorship … and Follow Through | 3 Ways to Initiate Informal Sponsorship | 3 Roadblocks to Women and Men Working Together Well

Mentoring is the process by which the mentor and mentee work together to identify and help the mentee move toward those goals. But sponsorship is intended specifically to promote career advancement. READ MORE →

Do You Have 3 Computer Monitors? Why Not?

Panorama of Alesund, Norway, on three computer monitorsIt’s the new norm.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

The best place to start a conversation on computer hardware is with monitors – the easiest place to see an immediate return on your IT investment.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Standardize QuickBooks Support for Clients | How to Choose the Right Client Portal Solution | Streamlining Bill-Paying at CPA Firms | Automating Bank Deposits Offers Instant ROI | The 3 Reasons Firms Are Migrating to Digital Timesheets | Digital Tools Streamline Audit Production | Accounting Firms Run on More than Checklists Alone | Going Paperless Means Convincing Clients First | How to Cut Tax Prep Costs with Scanners | Making Digital Tax Process Easier Is All About the Workflow | Why Firms Need Document Retention Standards

Your computer monitors are your windows into all digitally stored information and are the foundation for improving every aspect of firm production. Transitioning tax production processes from physical to digital requires that all input screens and source documents be simultaneously viewable in a convenient format, which today means more screens per workstation. READ MORE →