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Plus more than 3,000 need-to-know tips, tools and strategies – business-know-how articles – for your firm, your business and your career.

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Refund Fraud Keeps IRS Busy

IRS-CI’s Return Preparer Program statistics over the past three fiscal years

IRS-CI’s Return Preparer Program statistics over the past three fiscal years

Identity theft also is part of the program.

The IRS' Criminal Investigation Division is conducting fewer investigations with reduced staff, but there still is plenty of activity in its Refund Fraud Program, which includes the Return Preparer Program and the Questionable Refund Program.

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IRS Criminal Investigations Drop with Staff Cuts

Chart of IRS staffing levels

Investigations are down 20 percent.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Despite high-profile victories in the Credit Suisse and Bank Leumi cases, the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division is struggling with lower staffing levels and a continuing decline in the number of cases pursued. READ MORE →

Two Ways to Retire, and One’s Not Pretty

Older businessman taking a coffee breakThe graceful way to slow down and phase out.

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

There are two ways that partners slow down as they approach traditional retirement age:

Announced – the “cooperative” way to slow down. The partner openly and willingly informs the partners that she wishes to slow down. This change in status is usually related to the retirement process, but some partners who are not retirement-minded may wish to work less than full time in order to pursue other life goals.

MORE ON RETIREMENT: Mandatory Retirement Varies by Firm Size | How to Transition Clients from Retiring Partners | Retirement Plan Funding? What Funding? | Retirement Vesting: The Devil’s In the Details | When Retiring Partners Take a Specialty With Them | Three Ways to Calculate Goodwill Payable in Partner Buyouts, None of Them Great | The Multiple of Compensation Method, Fully Explained | Clients Leaving? Time to Reduce Retirement Benefits | Partners May Balk at Guaranteeing Retirement Obligations

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Busy Season 2015: Worse and Worser

z tax 2015 better or worseAfter a bad year for many practitioners, watch for the consolidation and shakeout to come.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Before Busy Season 2015 had even begun, tax professionals were worrying most about the new rules and regulations they’d be facing, among them, the Affordable Care Act.

Join the survey; get the results

Indeed, so-called Obamacare loomed largely over the 2015 season, but practitioners found bigger problems with Form 3115, tougher competition and fee pressures. So much so, that a significant number of practitioners swore this tax season would be their last. And with merger season coming close on the heels of busy season, the profession should brace for a new wave of consolidation and shakeout, according to the CPA Trendlines analysis.

See Comprehensive Coverage of Busy Season 2015 READ MORE →

Gender Bias Still a Problem

Businesswoman opens door to brick wall5 ways men receive preferential treatment.

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

Gender bias reflects entrenched beliefs and assumptions about women based on stereotypes about appropriate roles and behaviors for women.

Unconscious thoughts about the kinds of work women are and are not suited for, especially if they are mothers, remove highly qualified women from consideration for leadership opportunities and positions.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Why Women Are Overlooked (And How to Fix It) | 3 Ways Men Are Favored in the Workplace | Women Need Promotions, Not Just Advice | Mentor or Sponsor? How to Distinguish Roles | 4 Ways Women Leaders Improve Firms | CPA Firms Must ‘Man Up’ and Get Women On Board

In the past, working women suffered overt discrimination and explicit bias. They were told outright they were not “fit” for certain jobs, were too emotional and unreliable to be given responsible roles, and were taking the place of men who needed to support families. Sometimes the bias was ostensibly intended to “protect” women and occasionally it was hostile. But it was out in the open and women understood the barriers they faced. READ MORE →

3 Steps to Truly Reliable Backup

cloud iStock_000038172310SmallIf you still have a tape drive, you won't for long.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Your firm’s safety net in the event of any disaster is your data backup. It better be consistently performed and securely stored offsite.

Typically, firms have a problem when their old backup systems fail or the tapes don’t complete because there's too much data to fit. This is becoming a common problem as more data and more applications add significantly more volume, making the backup application require more storage and a longer running time to complete.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Moving to the Cloud? Do These 6 Things First | 4 Steps to Save On Hardware Spending | In a Pinch, Use Your Phone as a Scanner | Do You Have 3 Computer Monitors? Why Not? | Standardize QuickBooks Support for Clients | How to Choose the Right Client Portal Solution | Streamlining Bill-Paying at CPA Firms

When to Hire an Admin Assistant

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and ADo the math. Hire the best.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I seem to be wasting a lot of time and can’t put my finger on it. I go home at night feeling I am more behind than when I started that morning and my chargeable time is dropping. What suggestions can you make?

ANSWER: Many professionals, not just CPAs are spending more and more time on non-business purpose activities. I don’t want to say nonessential because booking a flight or setting up a client meeting is essential, just that it is not what you are being paid for – it is not your business purpose. This person I spoke to, and many others in similar circumstances, need administrative assistance.

MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR Q&A: How to Notify Clients of a Partner’s Retirement | 7 Ways to Lose a Client’s Trust | Quote With Care When Asked for Valuation | Closed for Tax Season? Looks That Way | 12 Must-Knows for Niche Markets | How Much Should You Pay To Buy, Sell or Merge an Accounting Practice? | Is Joint Representation a Conflict? | When Fees Don’t Keep Up With Cost Increases | When Large (or Any) Clients Need Backup Assurances | Lowballing and Why It (Usually) Doesn’t Work

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E-filing by Tax Pros Gains More Ground

Nearly 100 million individual returns have been filed.

With the tax season winding down, the IRS had received more than 99 million individual tax returns as of April 3, down 0.8 percent from 2014. More than 97.9 percent of those had been processed – 97 million, down 1.2 percent from last year.

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 READ MORE →

Selling vs. Attracting to Build Relationships

Martin Bissett

Bissett

Break down unspoken barriers. Are you just about compliance?

By Martin Bissett
Understanding Selling

It’s about time to realize that value is not about time.

When I look back on the research that has been conducted by various groups as to the biggest obstacles accounting firms cite to growing their practice,

  • 50 percent said creating opportunities,
  • 25 percent said knowing how to close deals
  • and the remainder said having self-confidence in presenting and then being able to positively differentiate from their competition.

MORE ON SELLING: When Selling, Don’t Chase New Fees, Attract Them | Selling Accounting Services Doesn’t Have to Be Hard! | ‘Selling’ Isn’t a Dirty Word | 8 Factors in Practice Development Success | In Sales, Perception Is Reality | Success Begins With Accountability | Do You Realize You’re Failing? | Winning Your First Client

It’s the final category of having self-confidence in presenting and then being able to positively differentiate from their competition that dictates how easy or difficult the other elements of creating and closing opportunities become for the firm.

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Being Radical Is All About Your Customer

Think in a new way, starting now.

Padar

Padar

By Jody Padar
The Radical CPA

Once you begin brainstorming about your new processes, you need to think about it from as many different viewpoints as possible, with an emphasis on design thinking. The easiest way to define design thinking is to look at it from your customer’s perspective instead of yours.

MORE ON RADICALISM: Being Radical Starts with Being the Change | Why Start Being Radical Now? | Going Radical: The 4 Tenets of a ‘New Firm’ | Why Should CPAs Be Radical? | The Roots of ‘Radical’ CPAs | The First 3 Questions I Should Have Asked Before Starting My Own Practice

It’s not all about you. I know, I know. But hear me out. It’s hard to look at your firm from a customer’s perspective. That’s why we gravitate to a firm-centric point of view. This point of view asks questions like:

  • What do we sell customers?
  • How can we reach customers?
  • What do we need to establish with our customers?
  • And how can we make money from our customers?

We’re think­ing about ourselves internally. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who only thinks of themselves, yet that is the way we run our firms.

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Want to Be Stress-Free? Use Your Strengths

Woman tossing exclamation points into air24 ways you may be better than you think.

By Sandi Smith Leyva
The Accountant’s Accelerator

How many times a day do we tell ourselves with the little voice in our head that we’re falling short of the ideal we have for ourselves? “I forgot to add the salt, so I ruined the recipe.” “I’m not good enough.” “I was mistaken.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I didn’t get picked for the finals.” “Nobody likes me.” And so on.

MORE ON SMALL-FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: Could You Use More Energy This Tax Season? | 15 Items for Your ‘Business Bucket List’ | 3 Ways to Plug Your Firm’s Money Leaks | How to Work the Same Hours and Make More Money

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SURVEY RESULTS: Latest Comments on Busy Season 2015

The CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer 2015:
Join the survey. Get the results

By CPA Trendlines Research

As results pour in from the final days of the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer 2015, it's clear that practitioners' experiences range widely, from outright euphoria to bleak despair.

See Comprehensive Coverage of Busy Season 2015

Here are a few the latest comments, verbatim...

  • Better than last year. Volume is up significantly and good smoothness of preparation svc and knowledge of clients.
  • We added a small tax practice in an adjoining town
  • I didn't have any clients with Obamacare non-compliance

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NEW SURVEY RESULTS: The 2nd Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Report

Randy Johnston, CEO and founder, Network Management Group, Inc.; Leslie Garrett, Ph.D., CEO of Insight Research Group; and Brian Tankersley, editor of the publication announce the release of their 2nd Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey eBook. The survey is published in cooperation with CPA Trendlines. 

“We are very pleased with this year’s survey participation, we have respondents from all 50 states and our number of respondents doubled over last year’s results, further validating the data,” said Garrett.

Available for sale exclusively at Store.CPATrendlines

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