Five Ways to Protect Clients from ‘The Sleazy Six’ Tax Season Scams

Click to join the CPA Trendlines Tax Season survey. Get the real-time trends, and benchmarks.
Click to the CPA Trendlines Tax Season survey. Get the real-time trends, and benchmarks.

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Tax Season 2017: What's Working. What's Not
Join the conversation. Get the answers.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Internal Revenue Service workers may be chronically understaffed, but they're not stupid. They’ve been in the tax collection business since the Civil War, and the IRS has been harvesting income tax since 1913. It has processed billions of tax returns, and it knows the tricks that taxpayers often try. It also knows the tricks that wanna-be cheats use to exploit the tax system, effectively robbing the honest people who pay what they owe.

For the last three years, the IRS has given a name to the most common schemes to swindle either taxpayers or the nation’s treasury. It calls them “The Dirty Dozen.” This year, half the dozen are scams by third parties that attempt to rip off taxpayers. The other half are taxpayer attempts to effectively rip off their government.

MORE on TAX SEASON:  Five-Point Action Plan for Turning Tax Scam Threats into New Opportunities  |  Taxes: Beyond Income to Gas and More   |   Readers Sound Off: What Tax Season Decline?  |  Overhyping IBM’s Watson Is Dangerous  |  Average Tax Refund by State   |  irms Face Staff Turnover Tsunami  |

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Sleazy tax tactics don’t do a practicing accountant any good. The slime taints the tax pro, and the pro may be put in the very uncomfortable position of having to defend the taxpayer before an IRS agent. This is not the light tax preparers look for at the end of the busy season tunnel. They’re thinking “Bahamas,” not “IRS office.”

Clients who know about the Dirty Half-Dozen will be disinclined to try a trick the IRS is expecting. Sharing the list will go far to ward off problems. READ MORE →

ANALYSIS: Local Firms Worldwide Are Losing the Wars for Talent and for Clients

Getting new clients tops the list of chief concerns for local firms worldwide. But the staffing shortage surges into second place. via IFAC

The eight moves smart firms are making today to win tomorrow's battles.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Does the tax and accounting profession have a role to play in global peace, harmony, and understanding?

You may think so, based on a new CPA Trendlines analysis of a global survey of small, local, and mid-size accounting firms.

The study paints a picture of a global community of local firms with shared aspirations, expectations, challenges, and opportunities – despite (or perhaps because of) rising nationalism, protectionism, and conflicting political regimes.

MORE on TALENT MANAGMENT: Global Tax Talent Shortage Mounting into ‘Perfect Storm’  |  Accountants without Borders: Tight Talent Pool Drives Salary Increases Nationwide  |  How to Create a Talent Management Strategy |  SURVEY FINDINGS: Talent Wars, M&A Frenzy Continue  |  Why Job Descriptions Matter  |  How to Develop Home-Grown Future Leaders  |  New Staffing Strategies for the Next-Generation Accounting Firm

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In fact, the research finds that the talent shortage plaguing Unites States firms is now turning into a global problem. That is, by no means, a good thing. But it is another item all firms across the globe can share in common. And it is another chink in the armor of the so-called traditional business model of the owner-operator accounting firm because most of the issues flow from two overriding factors: Rampant under-pricing or owner greed (or both) that fails to build up capital reserves for re-investment in the business, and the lack of access to other sources of funding.

It's enough to make us wonder if solutions to global problems are beyond the ability for individual nations to solve alone. Instead, multi-national worldwide strategies may be required. Maybe that's part of the reason the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is rebranding itself as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (still, just the "AICPA" to most).

But today, owning, operating or working in a perfectly "average" firm is not necessarily a sign of success. Instead, "average" seems doomed to obsolescence in irrelevancy – and on a global scale never before seen in the profession.

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SURVEY RESULTS: Firms Face Staff Turnover Tsunami

How to beat the staffing crisis: Join the survey. Get the answers.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

The accounting industry may be on the verge of a seismic shift. The results of a new CPA Trendlines survey of job satisfaction and personnel retention indicates a mounting tsunami of personnel migration in the near future, possibly on the heels of the busy season.

MORE on STAFF RETENTION: Effective Stay Interviews for CPA Firms  |  The 16 Biggest #FAILs in Delegation  |  Work-Life Balance: According to Whom?  |  Two Ways Your Strategic Plan Can Reduce Turnover  |  Top Firms Muscle Up with  Specialized Talent

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The survey, conducted in conjunction with practice management consultant Kristen Rampe suggests that barely half—just 52 percent—of respondents intend to definitely stay with their firms for the next six to 12 months. They describe their jobs as perfect for them right now.

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ANALYSIS: Global Tax Talent Shortage Mounting into ‘Perfect Storm’

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Good for talent; tough for employers: Retirements, turnover, and outsourcing.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

"Change is coming to the tax profession potentially as a 'perfect storm' in 2017," according to some leading executive recruiters, explaining the upcoming tax reform is still unknown but will likely result in tax professionals needing to quickly change and adapt to new rules and regulations.

MORE CAREERS & HIRING: Accountants without Borders: Tight Talent Pool Drives Salary Increases Nationwide  |  How to Create a Talent Management Strategy |  SURVEY FINDINGS: Talent Wars, M&A Frenzy Continue  |  Why Job Descriptions Matter  |  How to Develop Home-Grown Future Leaders  |  New Staffing Strategies for the Next-Generation Accounting Firm

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"Additionally," they say, "U.S. corporate tax departments will potentially explore outsourcing arrangements. Citing the arrangement between PwC and GE, they ask, "Is this a one-off situation or a transformational trend?" In the PwC/GE deal, GE hived off its tax department to PwC, which then assumed the GE tax department's activities as an outsourcing engagement.

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Immigrants: Surging Market for Tax & Accounting Services

Percentage of U.S. self-employed born abroad reaches 19.5 percent. Source: US SBA

Newcomers drive the nation's solopreneur sector.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Nothing says American like entrepreneurship. No nation offers such fertile soil for the seeds of business. And small businesses are the underlying energy of the American economy. Fed by inspiration, elbow grease, and gumption, they account for a disproportionate amount of the nation’s jobs, mobility, and innovation. When small businesses thrive, everybody thrives.

Three new reports on entrepreneurship from the U.S. Small Business Administration offer insights that may be of interest to CPA practices. Each report looks at one of three groups that are in the news every day: Millennials, seniors, and immigrants.

It may surprise many that the educated, tech-savvy millennials are increasingly less likely to start their own businesses.

READ MORE →

SURVEY: Accountants’ Best Advice for President Trump

Budaj

'Don’t screw this up.'

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Suppose you could have President Donald Trump’s ear for just five minutes—just the two of you in the Oval Office, and him eager to hear and heed your advice…

What would you tell him?

Floridian Deborah Budaj says, “I would discuss the timeline and plans for removing the burden of Obamacare from businesses, and also from individual healthcare plans.”

Martin J. Rooney would like to see some assistance for the hoi poloi: “We need to find meaningful work for the non-college educated people.  It may require some form of Government subsidy and hence taxes may need to rise, but without work, the forgotten people have no hope. They are not participating in the U.S. dream.”

Rooney

RELATED:  Why Accountants Voted the Way They Did  |  Accountants See Better Business Outlook following Presidential Election

On the off-chance that he might call in a CPA for some pragmatic and unbiased counsel, CPA Trendlines asked just such a question in our survey on the presidential election of 2016. As it turns out, CPAs are prepared for their summons to the Oval Office. They have opinions. They know what needs to be done. They aren’t necessarily in agreement, but if duty calls, over 1,000 CPA Trendlines members are prepared to proffer presidential pointers.

There is, of course, no shortage of snide advice.

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PRESIDENTIAL POST-ELECTION SURVEY: Why Accountants Voted the Way They Did

z_-election-chart-trump-v-clinton-concerns-v2How accountants voted and why.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

The CPA Trendlines post-election survey shows accountants split by different issues. Trump accountants tend to be most concerned about terrorism while Clinton accountants are more focused on global warming.

MORE SURVEY RESULTS:  Accountants Assess Business Outlook following Presidential Election

Part of the spread might be explained by gender. Just as the accounting profession tends to be owned and operated by more men than women, 67.7 percent of CPA Trendlines respondents were men – and roughly the same ratio of votes for Trump over Clinton. The demographics of the tax and accounting profession's practice owners and leaders -- the core of the CPA Trendlines community -- tend to match voting patterns beyond the profession. In that, accountants vote more like, well, voters, than accountants.

READ MORE →