Today's Features

Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers

Iceberg ahead: Tax hazards hidden below the surface.

8 good reasons to call every client for a year-end review.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Thanks to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the 2018 tax year has been unlike any other. CPAs and tax preparers have been busy helping clients make, or think about making, a new menu of possible adjustments to their financial plans.

The questions started coming in even before the Act was passed into law, and they haven’t stopped. In fact, as the end of the year approaches, the pleas for counsel are accelerating, according to a new survey.


Tax Shops Cut 6,200 Jobs

Signs of a hiring slowdown? Payroll agencies trim hours.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Are the heady days of hiring spikes over? Maybe, but the accounting profession still scores far more positives than negatives, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis.

MORE ON JOBS: Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10% | Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction | Steady Gains in Hiring at Accounting Firms | Tax Prep Services Slash 10,000 Jobs as Busy Season Begins | Tax & Accounting Wages Up 4% | Accounting Profession Shows Steady Growth | Accounting Profession Growing, But Slowly
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New records are being set in overall staff, in payroll staff, and in bookkeeping. Tax preparation services, meanwhile, continue to shed employees. And payroll agencies are cutting back on hours worked.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the industry.
  • Average hourly wages for key segments
  • Typical hours worked per week
  • Trends concerning women in the accounting workforce


Bored by CPE? You’re Missing Out!

Make the requirement work FOR you.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

CPAs are required to take continuing professional education courses each year. The amount varies by state, but every state has mandatory requirements.

MORE: Clients Buy Solutions, Not Hours | What Consulting Is | Mendlowitz: Why My Firm Merged with WS+B | A Long Time Ago, at a CPA Firm Far, Far Away … | When Discounts Don’t Work | Call Me Before You Do Anything | Learning to Delegate: Slow is Faster
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Some CPAs, like me, take courses and look for ideas to be able to serve clients better.

2019: Firms Grapple with Change

Another key: helping firm leaders retire with grace.

By Jennifer Wilson
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

It was another year of growth, but it was also one of change in firms, driven more by outside factors than by traditional growing pains.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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We're seeing significant shifts in firm leadership, as more partners transition out of their roles and begin the move to retirement. Partner groups are renegotiating buy/sell and other partnership provisions that to reflect today’s and tomorrow’s conditions.

2 Emerging Industries for Tax Resolution

Piggy bank with marijuana leaf painted on it, atop a calculatorCan you afford to pass these up?

By Michael Rozbruch, CPA
The IRS Audit Notice Checklist

When it comes to marketing I always say, “One is a lonely number, and you need more than one marketing strategy to attract prospects.” Let me take that one step further and say, you also need different groups of people to market to.

MORE: 6 Secrets to Getting Great Testimonials | 9 Secrets to Getting IRS Penalties Removed | Social Media’s Place in Your Marketing Strategy | KPIs That Accounting Firms Don’t Measure But Should | 10 Tips for Maximizing Referrals
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I have two hot tips for industries you should be focusing your marketing to because these two industries are going to produce a lot of clients who have tax problems that are going to need IRS representation. And those two new industries are cryptocurrency and cannabis.

6 Ingredients for Firm Value

Man preparing bread for bakingShould you merge? What can you offer your people?

By Domenick J. Esposito
8 Steps to Great

I am often asked two questions by small and midsized CPA firms:

  • How do we create significant firm value?
  • If we can get there, should we sell or stay independent?

MORE ON STRATEGIC PLANNING: 4 Ways to Add $100,000 in New Business Fees Every Year | 8 Steps to Small Firm Survival | 10 Roles of an Executive Committee | Why Do We Accept Poor New Business Results? | The Link Between Strategy and Winning on Value
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The answers to these questions, of course, depend on a firm’s particular facts and circumstances and one size does not fit all. Nevertheless, I am happy to share my perspective based on best practices.

How Accountants Can Ride the Artificial Intelligence Wave

Let machines crunch the data. You provide the insight.

By Hitendra R. Patil and Eli Fathi

You are already riding the AI wave to some extent because, most likely, your car has some AI built into it. You ride it to work. How about riding artificial intelligence at and in your work?

MORE ON ENTREPRENEURIAL STRATEGY: Automation Makes It Easier for Accountants to Offer Cybersecurity | The Why, What and How of Cybersecurity for Accountants  | The Client of the Future | Urgently Required: A New Definition of Accounting | Is Blockchain a Cloud Killer? | How to Beat Automation in Accounting | 3 Reasons Small Firms Stay Small | The New Needs of People at Accounting Firms | 4 Pillars of Future Firm Foundation | Do You Want a Practice … or a Business? | 3 Apps to Automate Business Networking
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In today’s economic environment, it’s not enough to offer services in the same way that it’s always been done and hope that business will thrive. Many accounting firms are embracing new technology, such as robotic process automation, cloud-based analytics and dashboards to offer a competitive edge but the industry has come to a crossroads. While these computer-assisted and rules-based tools are considered the norm, AI and machine learning solutions are driving the leading edge.

Are You a Box or a Funnel?

3 metal funnelsHarmonize, don’t just clash and resist.

By Bill Reeb

A college professor I know has had a difficult time harmonizing as his approach always escalated to clashing and resisting. And no, this isn’t a story about Michaelle in disguise, but someone else I had the pleasure of getting to know.

MORE: Tension Impacts Performance | Your Perception Will Shape Your Experiences | For CPAs: The Road to Wisdom Is Paved with Failure | Fear Stifles You in Every Way | Change the Way You Think | Let Go to Get Unstuck | Investing in Loss | You Might Be Your Biggest Obstacle | What to Stop May Be More Important Than What to Do
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He had a definite approach to teaching and was good at it. He believed in setting very high standards for his students and passing only those who achieved a specific level of excellence.

2019: Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring

And mergers are getting tougher. Ouch!

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Survey

Firms are stepping up their efforts to be more liberal and staff-friendly with their staff policies. More unlimited PTO polices including many variations of this, working remotely, staff setting their own hours, etc.

Unfortunately, I am not seeing any changes in the lip service most partners give to staff mentoring. Eighty percent of firms never make it to the second generation – many reasons for this but a big one is that the quality of partner mentoring sucks.

The Agile Accountant

Scrum line art illustrationLearning a lesson from software programmers.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Agile project management conjures up the image of scruffy software programmers surrounded by empty pizza boxes at 3 a.m. hacking away at producing the next Google.

MORE: The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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What could Agile possibly bring to accounting and income tax preparation?

Actually a lot, and it could transform your workflow and provide a quantum leap in the efficiency of your project management.


Yes, Home Equity Loans May Still Be Deductible

But watch out for the lower dollar limit.

By Barry J. Friedman, CPA

Contrary to early reports, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows taxpayers who buy, build or substantially improve their homes using either a home equity loan, home equity lines of credit (HELOC) or second mortgages to deduct interest on the loans.

MORE: How to Challenge Property Taxes | Portability: Sharing the Estate Tax Exemption | Tariffs: What Clients Need to Know Now | New SALT Deduction Limit: What Clients Need to Know | Passwords: How to Beat the Hackers
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That's the good news. But if clients take out the loan to pay for personal living expenses – credit card debt, for instance – they can't deduct the interest from their taxes.