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Closed for Tax Season? Looks That Way

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and AAutomation can send the wrong message.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I have an automatic email response and some clients and contacts criticized me for it. I am overloaded during tax season and this takes some pressure off of me. Here is the automatic email response I am sending out:

THANK YOU for your e-mail. Please accept my apology for this automated response. During tax season, most of my work days are scheduled with appointments and calls. I most always reply to emails and phone calls as soon as I can, usually the same day. Replies are slower during the months of February, March and April. Thank you for your patience.

ANSWER: That’s terrible!

MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR Q&A: 12 Must-Knows for Niche Markets | When Fees Don’t Keep Up With Cost Increases  | Lowballing and Why It (Usually) Doesn’t Work | Why the Average Fee Doesn’t Matter | How to Apply Value Pricing to Bundled Services | 6 Ways to Take a Client Beyond Tax Prep | 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Making Small Business Clients Happy | Client’s Difficult Daughter Balks at Bill | 10 Ways to Get New 1040 Clients | Tax Return Reviewer Ticking and Tying | 23 Reasons Clients Really Need YOU for Taxes | 5 Time Management Tips for an Overworked Accountant | Complaining Client? No Wonder! | Pricing, Billing, Costing: Don’t Blame Clients

You are running a business and tax season is just one part of it although concentrated into a highly intensive, pressure-filled period.


E-filing by Tax Pros Slows for Third Straight Week

After a fast start at the beginning of the season, the pace of e-filing by tax professionals continues to brake, compared with the same time last year. But the number of do-it-yourselfers is growing briskly.

IRS statistics for week ending March 6, 2015

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

Tax professionals e-filed over 33.4 million returns through March 6, 2015, down 4 percent from the over 34.8 million returns e-filed by the same time in 2014. READ MORE →

8 Factors in Practice Development Success

Businessman running in air with briefcaseHint: Be successful in life first.

By Martin Bissett
Understanding Selling

You know the identity of your first client, and if you buy into you, then there’s a good chance of potential clients being prepared to do so, too.

MORE ON SELLING: In Sales, Perception Is Reality | Success Begins With Accountability | Do You Realize You’re Failing? | Winning Your First Client

This is what we must remember about the purchasing of professional services such as accounting. If your prospective client is a Grade A or B style opportunity for your firm, then they are not buying the services you provide per se. The services are the vehicles of delivery;
the means to the end. The client is buying the relationship, and they are asking themselves:


Why Should CPAs Be Radical?

Businesswoman lassoing light bulbThe alternative is complacency. We all know where that leads.

By Jody Padar
The Radical CPA

CPAs must be “radicalized” so they cannot be lulled into com­placency and driven by reaction to their current firm or live­lihood. The changes that are happening in today’s fast-paced world need to be addressed.

MORE ON GETTING RADICAL: The Roots of ‘Radical’ CPAs | The First 3 Questions I Should Have Asked Before Starting My Own Practice

You and your team have already felt the changes. The silent majority of many employees are hurt, suspicious and feeling unheard. They see and experience the changes happening around them and don’t understand the complacency or the resistance to change from firm management. You may even be feeling this yourself within your firm of one.


3 Ways to Plug Your Firm’s Money Leaks

Money coming out of sink faucet and going down drainIt’s all about the daily processes.

By Sandi Smith Leyva
The Accountant’s Accelerator

Everyone is looking on the income statement to find places to cut their business expenses. But the best place to look is not on a report.

MORE ON SMALL-FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: 7 Ways to Get New Revenue from Old Clients | Draw New Clients In Like a Magnet | 11 Ways to Add Value for Clients | 9 Ways to Increase Sales through ‘Power Networking’ | 5 Things You Know That Clients Don’t | 3 Ways to Test Your Revenue Forecast | How to Work the Same Hours and Make More Money | If You’re a ‘Best-Kept Secret’ Cut It Out! | BUSY SEASON SURVIVAL TIPS: 5 Ways to Turn a Tough Day Into a Great One | Take Advantage of 4 Key Marketing Strategies  | Four Ways to Stop Leaving Money on the Table

It’s in the habits, processes and procedures that you and your team do through your workday. It’s also in the mindsets, the inner game you bring to your work.

Here are my top three money leak sources for you to look at and see what you can find:


5 Personal Touches for Tax Season

Businessman talking on phone in the officeOne is a can’t-skip.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Occasionally accountants lose touch with their clients, especially during tax season. Part of this is because of the crush of work, which is compressed into a pretty short period. We sometimes lose sight that we are working on something the clients consider one of the most important things in their lives at that moment.


Killing the CPE Hour: 10-Minute Courses Get the Green Light

Indiana society CEO Gary Bollinger speaks about the move to a competency-based system.



Maryland, Ohio lead nation in CPE revolution.

The Ohio Society of CPAs has launched a series of micro learning courses for certified public accountants that provide timely knowledge packaged in 10-minute modules.

The Ohio rollout follows by only days action by the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy to vote unanimously to adopt the final CPE regulations for “nano” learning, or 10-minute CPE increments.



The regulations take effect March 31 in Maryland, which joins Ohio as the only other state in the union to win official approval of this new CPE format.

The so-called “future of learning” is a professionwide initiative to advance the CPE model started by the AICPA.

“This is an important step in moving toward the future of learning for CPAs,” Tom Hood, Maryland society CEO, says.


IRS Defanged by 20 Years of Budget Cuts

IRS Criminal Prosecutions Over The Past 20 Years / TRAC

Prosecutions down 16 percent in 2014.

Budget cuts are clearly undermining  the nation’s ability to collect tax revenue and enforce tax laws, widening already gaping budget holes, CPA Trendlines data show.

For instance, tax prosecutions, which peaked during the early Clinton administration, bottomed during the Bush administration. READ MORE →

Retirement Plan Funding? What Funding?

Young businessman clipping hedge into dollar signWeighing 2 pros… and 6 cons.

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

Ninety-nine percent of all CPA firms’ retirement benefits are unfunded. (This excludes the many instances where firms carry life insurance on partners because it only covers retirement in the case of death).

MORE ON RETIREMENT: Vesting Can Cover Part-Timers, Too | Retirement Vesting: The Devil’s In the Details | Compromise Is In Order for Some Goodwill Payouts | If Clients Leave, Do You Reduce Retirement Benefits? | Why You’ll Get Less from Your Partners in a Buyout than You Might by Selling the Whole Firm | The Multiple of Compensation Method, Fully Explained | Clients Leaving? Time to Reduce Retirement Benefits | How to Set Terms and Limits for Goodwill Payouts | 4 Ways to Decide How to Pay Out Capital | Partners May Balk at Guaranteeing Retirement Obligations

There are two types of funding:


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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 →

4 Ways Women Leaders Improve Firms

Senior businesswoman studying proposalPlus 6 market advantages.

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

Most male leaders today under­stand how important it is to keep high-performing women in the pipeline and help them achieve their potential within the organization.

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 | 3 Ways to Initiate Informal Sponsorship | How to Establish a Sponsor-Protégée Relationship | 3 Roadblocks to Women and Men Working Together Well | Why Women Resist Networking and Powerful Role Models | Women Must See Politics as Leadership to Get Ahead | Mommy Bias Persists | Different Standards, Double Binds Challenge Women

These men are genuinely concerned about their firms’ inability to retain and advance the women they hire because having a substantial number of women leaders is a demonstrably significant benefit to the company, while a lack of gender diversity at the top of organizations can be very costly to the bottom line.

In an increasingly competitive market for talent, retaining the best people and placing them in executive roles where they can have the greatest impact is a business imperative. Abundant research shows that companies with higher percentages of women leaders and senior-level managers tend to outperform their competitors. READ MORE →

10 Things That Accountants Didn’t Need to Worry about 10 Years Ago

todal wave Dollarphotoclub_64529042Now, what do you do about it?

By Hitendra Patil
Pransform Inc.

There is a shift in how people make their buying decisions and actually how they buy. Accordingly, there is a total transformation how people sell their products and services. And it’s impacting the CPA business… in at least 10 ways: READ MORE →